Why Am I Spotting Between Periods?

It can be a little unnerving to experience spotting or bleeding at unexpected times between your periods. There are many reasons women may spot between periods, and while some of those reasons are nothing to worry about, others are more serious.      

At Kelly Morales OB/GYN, our team provides compassionate, patient-centered gynecological care to women in the San Antonio, Texas, area using the latest evidence-based medicine. Dr. Morales understands the frustration and worry that unexpected spotting can bring. 

Our care team has curated this information on spotting between periods to help you understand what’s normal and what’s cause for concern.

Is spotting between periods normal?

Most women experience unexpected bleeding between periods at least once in their lives. This intermenstrual bleeding is typically lighter than a period and is commonly referred to as spotting. 

If you experience spotting between periods, jot down the date on your calendar and write down any other changes you notice in your menstrual cycle. You should also make note of any other symptoms associated with the spotting.  

What causes spotting between periods?

There are many different reasons you might spot or bleed between your periods. For young women who are closer in age to puberty and older women nearing menopause, spotting is often caused by hormonal fluctuations. 

Here are some of the other common causes of spotting between periods:

Hormonal contraceptives

The most common reason women spot between periods is hormonal birth control. This is especially true when you first start any form of hormonal contraceptives as your body adjusts to the new hormones. 

Some forms of hormonal contraceptives include:

If the spotting doesn’t change after three months of using the hormonal birth control, talk to Dr. Morales. 


Some women spot during ovulation, most likely because of hormonal changes in progesterone levels related to ovulation. Ovulation spotting typically lasts 1-3 days in the middle of your cycle and isn’t cause for concern. 


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes enlarged ovaries with many small cysts. PCOS can cause many symptoms, including irregular periods and spotting between periods. 

Endometriosis and other conditions

Conditions that affect the uterus, like endometriosis, adenomyosis, and fibroids, can cause spotting, cramping between periods, and heavy, painful periods. Other conditions that affect the cervix and vagina, such as polyps or injury, can also cause spotting. 

Implantation bleeding

Some women experience light spotting when the fertilized egg implants into the lining of the uterus. This spotting may be accompanied by mild uterine cramping. 

Ectopic pregnancy

When the egg and sperm implant in your fallopian tube rather than the uterus, the resulting pregnancy is called an ectopic pregnancy. In addition to vaginal spotting, ectopic pregnancies typically cause pain and other symptoms. 

An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening emergency. If you suspect you may be pregnant and are experiencing pain and spotting, call your doctor. 


Sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause bleeding between periods. Other infections, like pelvic inflammatory disease or an infection of the cervix, can also cause unexpected vaginal bleeding.  

Certain cancers

Although it’s rare, bleeding between periods can indicate certain types of cancers, such as cervical cancer and uterine cancer. Cervical cancer is most common in sexually active women between ages 30-45, while uterine cancer typically affects menopausal or postmenopausal women. 

Because there are so many possible reasons for spotting between periods, it’s important to pay attention to any other symptoms you may have. Dr. Morales will be able to better diagnose the cause of your spotting and identify any underlying condition with a clear picture of all of your symptoms.

When do I need medical attention for spotting between periods?

Most times, spotting between periods isn’t a cause for an emergency visit. But since intermenstrual bleeding is never normal, you should talk to Dr. Morales about any spotting at your regular visit. If you have heavy or persistent bleeding or spotting between periods, it’s important to call for medical advice sooner. 

Ready to talk to us about spotting between periods? Our compassionate team at Kelly Morales OB/GYB can help. Contact our San Antonio office by calling 210-570-7277 to schedule an appointment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How Can I Prevent Birth Control Side Effects?

You love the effectiveness and convenience of hormonal birth control — but not the side effects these contraceptive methods sometimes bring. Learn how you can stop unwanted side effects in their tracks.

Endometriosis in Teens: What You Need to Know

If your teen suffers from painful periods and heavy bleeding, endometriosis could be the cause. Take a moment to learn what you need to know about this painful condition and how it affects adolescents.

5 Signs of Perimenopause

Are you confused about whether you’re in perimenopause or how you can tell? We’ve got you covered. Learn more about this transitional stage in a woman’s life and how to recognize the signs that you’re experiencing it.

What's Causing Your Irregular Periods?

Do you have periods that last longer than eight days, come every few weeks, or maybe only every few months? Learn what might cause your irregular periods and whether you should be concerned.

The Impact of STDs on Your Reproductive Health

More than 20 million cases of STDs are diagnosed annually in the United States. Learning you have an STD triggers a host of reactions, including concern about your reproductive health. Get the facts on how STDs influence your fertility.

Preparing Your Daughter for Her First Well-Woman Exam

To help her build a solid foundation for healthy adulthood, it’s important to teach your daughter the importance of routine health care — including teen well-woman visits. Here’s what your teenager can expect during her first visit with us.