Once you reach your thirties, the chance that spotting could indicate endometrial cancer, a type of cancer of the uterus, increases. Obesity also boosts your risk of endometrial cancer, even if you’re a younger woman.
Spotting between periods definitely becomes more worrisome after the age of 35, because it could be an early sign of endometrial cancer. Hormonal changes, fibroids, and polyps are far more common than endometrial cancer. It’s probably one of those things, but unless you have it evaluated, you don’t know if you’re that one in 1,000 people who has the cancer.
Fibroids, benign growths that can form in your uterus, are more likely to cause irregular bleeding if they grow into the uterine lining. Polyps, another type of benign growth, can also grow in the uterus or on the cervix and may cause bleeding. Both fibroids and polyps can be removed surgically.
Endometrial hyperplasia, in which the lining of the uterus grows too thick, can also cause abnormal bleeding. While this condition is benign, it can be a precursor to cancer in some cases.
If your doctor suspects you may have endometrial cancer, he or she will take a sample of tissue from the endometrium so that the cells can be examined under a microscope. Other tests, such as an ultrasound, may be used to determine if bleeding is related to polyps or fibroids.
The long march toward menopause — which officially occurs when a woman has not menstruated for a full year — begins for most women during their fourth decade. As your ovaries begin winding down egg production, your period is likely to become irregular. You may skip a cycle here or there, have your periods unusually close together, or experience heavy bleeding.
As people’s ovaries start to age, you can see mid-cycle spotting. That’s very normal and it comes from fluctuating hormone levels. It can be hard to tell what’s normal and what’s not during this tricky time of life. If your normal period was three to five days and now you’re bleeding seven to 10 days and it’s heavy, then it’s probably not a normal period.
Taking hormones to cope with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes can also contribute to irregular bleeding.
After menopause, any vaginal bleeding is cause for concern. If somebody’s having spotting when they’re postmenopausal, that’s definitely abnormal and needs to be looked into.