spottingVaginal bleeding between menstrual periods — what most of us call Spotting — is a common problem. When bleeding occurs between normal periods, there are many possible causes. Because spotting can indicate a serious underlying condition, you should see your doctor for testing, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Vaginal bleeding is considered to be abnormal if it occurs:

* When you are not expecting your menstrual period.
* When your menstrual flow is lighter or heavier than what is normal for you.
* At a time in life when it is not expected, such as before age 9, when you are pregnant, or after menopause.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding has many possible causes. By itself, it does not necessarily indicate a serious condition.

Causes of Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods
1. Hormonal imbalance: Estrogen and progesterone are the two hormones that regulate your cycle. If they get out of balance, you may have spotting. Dysfunctional ovaries, thyroid gland problems, and starting and stopping birth control pills, can all affect your hormone balance.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone imbalance that interferes with normal ovulation and can cause abnormal bleeding.
2. Intrauterine device: also may increase your chances of spotting or heavy periods.
3. Pregnancy complications: Complications during pregnancy can cause spotting. Both miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies — which is when the fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus— can cause bleeding.
4. Uterine fibroids or polyps: These are non cancerous growths that form in the uterus. They are not uncommon in women who have had children.
5. Infection: Infection of the pelvic organs may cause vaginal bleeding, especially after intercourse or douching.
6. Cancer: Less commonly, cancer of the cervix, vagina, uterus, or ovaries may cause bleeding.
7. Rare causes: Other possible causes of vaginal bleeding are rare : having an object in the vagina, extreme stress, and diabetes.

When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:

* You are pregnant
* There is any unexplained bleeding between periods
* There is any bleeding after menopause
* There is heavy bleeding with periods
* Abnormal bleeding is accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, dizziness