It can be frightening to see a bloody drop even though you don’t expect it. However, bloody discharge is not always an indication of an emergency. The cause of bleeding can be determined by your age, lifestyle, and past medical history.
Causes of bloody discharge
It does not always mean that there is something wrong. There are many instances when bloody discharge can be normal.
The most common type of bloody discharge is the shedding or spotting of the uterine membrane. This can signify that your period or menstrual cycle is about to begin. A regular period occurs every 28 days or approximately 14 days after regular Ovulation.
Your period colour may change throughout your cycle. It could start with pink, yellow or black blood, and then transition to burgundy, red blood, or vice versa.
During Early Puberty
The age factor is often important in irregular menstruation. Menarche or the onset and maintenance of menstruation is a natural process that occurs in most girls around 12 years old.
It’s not uncommon to have your first period and then not have another for several months. This can lead to bloody discharge appearing on an irregular basis. It can take some time for the hormone cycle responsible for regular menstruation and Ovulation to mature.
Perimenopause & HT
Perimenopause refers to the period leading up or your last period. Perimenopause is the period leading up to menopause, or your last period.
Perimenopause is a time when menstrual cycles change. You may experience shorter, longer, heavier or lighter periods than normal. Some periods may be missed.
Hormone Therapy (or HT) refers to a combination hormone therapy for female hormones estrogen or progesterone medication. Uneven bleeding is a known side effect.
Although bleeding during pregnancy can be a problem, it is quite common in the first trimester or first three months of a normal pregnancy.
Around 15% to 25% of pregnant woman experience bleeding during the first trimester. The bleeding is usually light and happens after fertilization (when fertilized eggs are implanted in your uterus lining). This bleeding is sometimes known as implantation bleeding but is not to be considered a problem.
Although implantation bleeding is quite common, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider if you notice bleeding during pregnancy. This could indicate something more serious.
Concerning Bloody Discharge
Sometimes, bleeding between periods or bloody discharge can indicate more serious conditions. It is important to monitor your symptoms holistically and to see your healthcare provider. Bloody discharge can often be a sign of more serious conditions.
Endometriosis A chronic inflammatory condition where tissue that is normally found in the uterine line forms in other parts of a woman’s reproductive or endocrine systems.
The symptoms can vary in severity and cause irregular menstrual cycles or spotting during periods. Endometriosis can be difficult to diagnose. It’s important that you monitor symptoms such as severe cramps, unresolved pelvic pains, painful sex and fatigue.
Common cancers that affect women rarely present symptoms in the early stages. Early symptoms can include bleeding or spotting that isn’t related to menstruation.
- Uterine carcinoma is the most common form of gynaecological malignancy in the United States. It refers to two types mainly of cancers that affect the uterus: Endometrial cancer and uterine Sarcoma. Both can cause bleeding after menopause or between menstrual cycles.
- Cervical cancer is found in the cervix. Most cases can be attributed to the HPV, a sexually transmitted disease (STI), and the human papillomavirus. Uncontrollable bleeding is one of the first signs of cervical cancer. It can happen during or after menstruation.
- Ovarian Cancer A woman’s ovaries, and the surrounding structures, can be affected by this type of cancer . There is often no evidence of early symptoms. Younger ovarian cancer patients may have germ cell tumours, which are tumours that originate from the cells that make the eggs. These cases can lead to abnormal vaginal bleeding, or bleeding that is similar to a period.
Burst Ovarian Cyst
A fluid-filled cyst that forms inside or on top of an ovary is called an ovarian cyst. These cysts are common and often resolve themselves. However, in rare cases they can burst and cause abnormal bleeding or bloody discharge.
Burst ovarian cysts can cause sudden and sharp pain on one side. This is often experienced after strenuous activities or sex.
- Vaginosis: Bacterial vaginosis is a condition where the normal balance in the vaginal flora has been disturbed by sex, body products or antibiotics.
- STIs: Bleeding and spotting can be a sign of an STI. This could include chlamydia or gonorrhoea or trichomoniasis. STI symptoms can include abnormal discharge or pain in the vaginal area.
Although bleeding in early pregnancy is not uncommon, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
- Ectopic Pregnancy. An Ectopic pregnancy is a cause of bleeding during early pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implanted somewhere other than the uterus wall. This is usually in one of the Fallopian tubes. Sometimes, ectopic pregnancy is only diagnosed by vaginal bleeding.
- Miscarriage – While it is very distressing, but not uncommon miscarriage (also known as early pregnancy loss) refers to the termination of a pregnancy within the first 20 weeks (or approximately four and a quarter months). A miscarriage is characterized by bleeding, from heavy to light, and fluid and tissue discharge.
- Preterm Labour: Preterm labour is defined as any pregnancy that occurs before 37 weeks. Preterm labour symptoms include changes in vaginal discharge (bloody or watery mucus), pelvic pain and contractions.