Breakthrough Bleeding: Signs, Causes, How to Stop It

Breakthrough bleeding is a condition wherein a woman bleeds when pregnant or during the menstrual cycle. Many people have very little knowledge as to what it’s all about. That’s why we’ll be taking a look at the causes of breakthrough bleeding. And how to deal with it.

first trimester cramping

The menstrual cycle in women is one unique cycle. In different women, it presents with different symptoms. Averagely, menstruation occurs every 28 days. But for some, it occurs every 21 days or every 35 days. On average as well, it would last for about 5 days. Some can have it for just 3 days while for some it would last for about 7 days. As to flows, some people have light flows. This means that the blood flow is really small. But for some they have a heavy flow, the blood flow is really much. Breakthrough bleeding occurs during the menstrual period or during pregnancy. This is any bleeding or spotting you notice during these periods.

Most women usually don’t pay so much attention to breakthrough bleeding. Or to put it in better terms they do not recognize breakthrough bleeding. For some people, it happens during the normal regular menstrual period. That’s why it’s very important that you take note of changes in your menstrual cycle every month. People that smoke, for instance, is at high risk of experiencing breakthrough bleeding. Let’s take a closer look at what breakthrough bleeding is all about. The causes and also how to deal with it.

Causes of Breakthrough Bleeding

Causes of Breakthrough Bleeding

There are many causes of breakthrough bleeding. It could be a result of hormonal changes in the body. It could also be as a result of a miscarriage. Some of the causes of this bleeding would resolve naturally on its own. But for some they won’t so it’s advisable to talk to your doctor about it.

Change in birth control pills

This bleeding is commonly seen among people that are using birth control pills. Or even other contraceptives such as IUD. This is commonly seen a few months after you switch to a new pill. The exact cause of why this happens isn’t known. Some believe that it could be a result of changes in hormones in the body.

Even with this, women taking pills might experience more bleeding when:

  1. You miss pills in your cycle
  2. When you start taking new supplements or medications while using the pill
  3. When you vomit persistently or have diarrhea, this affects the balance of hormones in the body

When pills are used over an extended period of time, breakthrough bleeding is bound to happen. It would occur for some months after you start. Then you would notice that the blood is dark brown. This is indicative of old blood.

When it comes to IUDs you would notice changes in blood flow until your body is able to adjust to the changes in hormones. As for copper IUD, there is no change in hormone but women still experience bleeding. So the bleeding is common to the two types of IUD.

It’s important to notify your doctor if the bleeding is quite heavy. Or if you experience bleeding after you have sex. Also, contact your doctor immediately if you have the following symptoms:

  1. Heavy bleeding
  2. Abdominal pain
  3. Vision changes
  4. Chest pain
  5. Serious leg pain


There are times when STIs cause breakthrough bleeding. STIs are infections that are transmitted through sex. When a person has unprotected sex it can be transmitted from one person to another. It could also be as a result of conditions such as vaginitis, cervicitis, endometritis, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

You know that the breakthrough bleeding is as a result of infection if you have symptoms such as:

  1. Pelvic pain
  2. Cloudy urine
  3. Heavy periods
  4. Unusual odor
  5. Pain during intercourse
  6. Burning in the pelvis
  7. Abnormal vaginal discharge

The good thing is that with antibiotics you can treat infections. So it’s important that you go see a doctor when you notice any of these symptoms. Leaving it untreated can lead to many other health problems.

Sensitive cervix

When your cervix gets injured or irritated, you would have spotting or bleed. The cervix is located just below the uterus. And a sensitive cervix would cause the discharge of blood. When a person is pregnant as the cervix is soft. That’s why a person might bleed after sex or when a vaginal exam is done. It could also be as a result of the opening of the cervix before the due date. This is known as cervical insufficiency.

Miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy

Women that bleed during pregnancy still give birth to healthy babies. But there are times that blood during pregnancy is indicative of a miscarriage. It could also be as a result of an ectopic pregnancy. A miscarriage happens when the baby in the womb dies before 20 weeks. As for ectopic pregnancy, this is when the implantation occurred in the fallopian tube. Implantation occurs normally in the uterus.

Fibroids: When fibroid develops in the uterus it could lead to bleeding. Fibroid masses can be caused by either hormones or genetics. People who have family members that have had fibroid are at higher risk of having a fibroid. Also, black women are known to have an increased risk of having a fibroid.

How to Stop It

You might not be able to prevent or stop breakthrough bleeding. It’s actually dependent on the exact cause. The best option you have is to consult a doctor. Your doctor would find out the cause and proffer possible solutions to the problem.

For some causes, the bleeding would normally stop on its own. If it’s caused by pills or even a sensitive cervix then it would stop on its own. So you wouldn’t have to worry about the treatment method to opt for.

If you suspect from the signs and symptoms that you have, that it’s as a result of infection, then treatment is needed. Talk to your doctor about it. Medications would be given to help treat the infection. Once the infection is dealt with then the bleeding would stop.

Usually, breakthrough bleeding isn’t the main cause for concern. But the side effects that come with it. That’s why it’s very important to be observant as a woman. And also make sure you take necessary steps when needed. This is important because serious health issues can arise when you don’t attend properly to breakthrough bleeding.

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