Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
Causes And Symptoms

Most women do have bouts of abnormal vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods sometime in their lives. This is considered as a normal occurrence.

But vaginal bleeding is deemed to be abnormal if it occurs:-

  • when you are not expecting your normal menstrual flow.
  • when your menstrual flow is lighter or heavier than what you normally experience.
  • at a time when it is not expected, before a child reaches 10, when you are pregnant or after menopause.

Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding : Common Causes

Placenta Privia - Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding


Light vaginal spotting during pregnancy may be normal but any bleeding when you are pregnant should be checked by a doctor.

Heavy vaginal bleeding that occurs before the 12th week of pregnancy may indicate a serious complication. The possibility of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage should not be ruled out.

And heavy bleeding that happens after the 20th week of gestation is not a good indication either, as this might be linked to placenta previa.

Placenta previa (as shown in the above picture)occurs when a baby’s placenta partially or totally covers the mother’s cervix - the doorway between the uterus and the vagina. Placenta previa can cause severe bleeding before or during delivery.


Ovulation refers to the release of a single, mature egg from the ovarian follicles. Bleeding may occur during the middle of a menstrual cycle (mid-cycle).

Ovulation bleeding tends to be pink or red in color, is lighter than a normal menstrual flow and generally last 1-2 days. Mid-cycle bleeding that last longer than a couple of days could be symptoms of a medical condition such as endometriosis.

Menstrual Cycles

Menstrual cycles that are longer than 35 days or shorter than 21 days. The lack of periods for 3-6 months (amenorrhea) is also abnormal.

Birth Control Methods

Contraceptive pills can cause abnormal vagina bleeding which is known as breakthrough bleeding. which is minor bleeding between periods during the first few months after starting on the pill. Abnormal bleeding may also occur when the pill is not taken at a regular time each day.

Intrauterine device (IUD) increase the chance of spotting or heavy periods.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an inflammation or infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Other than lower abdominal pain, fever and smelly vaginal discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding is one of the common PID symptoms.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STDs or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gohorrhea and Chlamydia can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods while genital/vaginal warts have symptoms of bleeding during or after sexual intercourse.


Lack of estrogen after menopause may be a cause of abnormal bleeding during intercourse when there is vaginal dryness and vaginal walls are thinner.

Abnormal uterine bleeding after the age of 40 (lighter or heavier than what you normally experience) is probably a sign of peri-menopause.

Lesser known causes of abnormal bleeding from the vagina could be due to:-

  • Underactive thyroid (low thyroid function).
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Uterine fibroids – a common cause of heavy periods.
  • Structural problems of the female reproductive system – urethral prolapsed and polyps.
  • Cancer of the cervix, uterus, ovaries and vagina.
  • Extreme emotional stress.
  • Ectopic pregnancy

Seek Medical Advice

Do not be shy about vaginal health problems. Find out what WebMD has to said about abnormal bleeding.

Abnormal bleeding should not be ignored if it:-

  • is accompanied by smelly vaginal odor.
  • occurs after intercourse when you are not menopausal or there is blood in the urine. 
  • happens suddenly when you are menopausal and have not had your period for 1 whole year.
  • occurs when you are pregnant.

Most of the time a medical examination and a discussion with the doctor will reveal that abnormal vaginal bleeding is just a minor problem.

And if it turns out to be something serious, you have a good chance of overcoming the disease when it is discovered early.

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