From puberty onward, we quickly become experts in our personal cycles and body changes: flow, discharge, pain, itching, discomfort during sex. But there's one symptom that can always seem worrisome, no matter what the situation: spotting between periods. Seeing the telltale red or brown staining on your pants, no matter how slight, can lead you to jump to frightening conclusions. And it's true; there are some unexpected reasons you might be bleeding mid-month.
Intermenstrual bleeding, as the professionals call it, is actually fairly common in young women, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Most often, it's known as "breakthrough bleeding" between periods, and it's quite normal. Other common causes of spotting include switching birth control methods, uterine fibroids, or the beginnings of perimenopause (the transition time before full menopause is established).
If the spotting is light, lasts only a day or two, and you have no other symptoms, there's likely no cause for worry. However, if the bleeding is prolonged or gets progressively heavier, it's time to call the doctor. Ditto and a half if you also have symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, dizziness, or vaginal discharge, warns WebMD. And if you're postmenopausal, any bleeding at all should be brought to your doctor's attention.
Below are some of the surprising reasons you might be experiencing spotting between periods. With a couple of exceptions, these are (thankfully) fairly unusual situations. Still, any unexpected change in your cycle or body is a signal to get checked out.