The Most Common Breakthrough Bleeding FAQs

Breakthrough bleeding is something many women deal with in their lifetime. This bleeding between menstrual periods can range anywhere from light pinkish-red to dark reddish-brown and can happen for several reasons.

Today, we wanted to provide answers to some frequently asked questions about why it happens and when to worry about breakthrough bleeding.

What Is Breakthrough Bleeding?

When a woman bleeds or experiences spotting any time outside of her normal menstrual cycle, it is called breakthrough bleeding. The blood can be light in color and look as if your period is just starting, or it can be darker depending on the underlying cause.

What Causes Breakthrough Bleeding?

Breakthrough bleeding can be caused by several conditions, and it can be nothing to worry about or it may require medical treatment. If you are experiencing these issues, determining what is causing the bleeding should be your first priority. Some of the conditions that can cause breakthrough bleeding include:

Different Forms Of Contraception
Both oral birth control pills and IUDs contain hormones that help regulate your reproductive cycle. It is very common to experience breakthrough bleeding when you start a new contraceptive routine. It may also take time to figure out which type and which dose work best for you, and it may take your body several months to adjust. Normally, your doctor will advise you to contact them if you experience breakthrough bleeding after the third month of starting a new birth control method or if the bleeding is heavy.
Infection And Disease
Infections that are transmitted through sexual means, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, can cause you to bleed in between periods. Conditions such as vaginitis and pelvic inflammatory disease can also cause this symptom. Sometimes the other symptoms that would indicate something is off are less noticeable, such as cloudy urine, or you may experience burning while urinating, pain during sex, or an unusual odor. If you have any of these symptoms, you need to see your doctor to find the cause.
Endometriosis and Adenomyosis
These two conditions, often referred to as the evil sisters, can cause breakthrough bleeding. They occur when cells that are supposed to grow to make up the lining of the uterus begin to grow in other areas. Cells that are growing outside of the uterus cause endometriosis, and cells that grow inside the muscle wall of the uterus cause adenomyosis. Both conditions can cause breakthrough bleeding because these cells function just as they would if they were located in their proper place in the uterine lining. Each month, this lining builds up and then bleeds while shedding. These cells growing out of bounds also go through this cycle. If you feel adenomyosis is the underlying cause of your breakthrough bleeding, contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center to learn about a treatment that can alleviate it.
Cervix Sensitivity
Your cervix sits right at the bottom of the uterus and above the vagina. Sometimes a vaginal exam or vigorous intercourse can irritate the cervix and cause it to bleed. It also becomes softer during pregnancy and may become more prone to irritation during this time.
Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids, or myomas, are irregular, benign tumors that grow in or on the uterus. They can be tiny, like a grain of rice, or grow to be huge, like a pumpkin. Women can have one fibroid or several at the same time, and they can distort the size and shape of the uterus. In fact, sometimes women are mistaken for pregnant because their fibroids are causing their abdomen to protrude. Women with just a few small fibroids often do not have any symptoms, while women with several or large fibroids suffer horrible discomfort caused by heavy bleeding, breakthrough bleeding, pelvic pain, and more. If you suspect fibroids are causing your breakthrough bleeding, you should seek a consultation with an interventional radiologist like those at the Atlanta Fibroid Center. They can tell you about a safe, non-surgical treatment that can get rid of your fibroids and your breakthrough bleeding.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization in Atlanta, GA

How Long Does Breakthrough Bleeding Last?

There is no set amount of time that breakthrough bleeding can last, and it varies depending on what is causing it to occur. Sometimes it lasts a day or two and resolves on its own, or it can last longer. If it persists for more than a week, it is time to see your doctor to find out what is going on.

When Should I Worry About Breakthrough Bleeding?

Experiencing breakthrough bleeding doesn’t always mean something is wrong. It can happen for many common reasons that resolve on their own, such as your method of birth control or the fact that your cervix is irritated. If you are experiencing additional symptoms, heavy bleeding, or pain, there may be some underlying cause that requires medical intervention. Women who are in their menopausal years and have not had a period in at least a year should contact their doctor if they begin to experience breakthrough bleeding. It is recommended that you keep track of your symptoms so you can give your doctor an accurate description of what you are experiencing so they can determine the underlying cause.

How Do You Stop Breakthrough Bleeding?

If you want to prevent breakthrough bleeding, you first need to determine why it is happening, and then you can begin a plan of treatment. If your issues are a result of birth control, then adjusting the dose or the type you are using may solve the issue. In some cases, hormonal therapy or other medication may be necessary to treat the underlying condition.

In cases of breakthrough bleeding caused by uterine fibroids, the best treatment is to get rid of the fibroids. This can be done safely and without surgery using a procedure called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).

How Does UFE Stop Breakthrough Bleeding?

UFE is done by an interventional radiologist like Dr. John Lipman or Dr. Mitchell Ermentrout at the Atlanta Fibroid Center. The procedure is done as an outpatient, so you can go home to recover, and there is no overnight stay in the hospital.

Fibroids are a bit like parasites, meaning they latch onto a blood vessel that is attached to the uterine artery, and they begin siphoning off blood. During the UFE procedure, a special catheter is used to strategically place tiny particles in these areas that cut off their access to this stolen blood. Without it, the fibroids begin to shrink and die, relieving the associated symptoms. If uterine fibroids are the cause of your breakthrough bleeding, you will no longer have to worry about dealing with it again.

The biggest advantages of UFE over a myomectomy or hysterectomy include:

  • There is no surgery or use of general anesthesia;
  • Your uterus is left undisturbed and uncompromised;
  • The recovery time is only a week, vs 4 to 6 weeks with surgery;
  • No hospital stay.

Who Can Help Me If I Have Fibroids Causing Breakthrough Bleeding?

The experts at the Atlanta Fibroid Center have over 40 years of experience in performing the UFE procedure and have helped countless numbers of women get rid of symptoms caused by fibroids and adenomyosis. In fact, their reputation is such that women travel from everywhere to undergo the UFE procedure with their highly qualified and experienced doctors.

If you have fibroids or adenomyosis and would like to be free from their nasty schedule-dictating, hostage-situation-like vices, contact us today to set up a consultation. You can have your life back without having to sacrifice your uterus or risk the complications of surgery.

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