Period Spottage
April 20, 2006 11:13 AM   Subscribe

MenstrualCycleFilter: So it seems that I'm being plagued by light-to-heavy spotting every couple weeks...

A couple weeks after my period ends I start spotting blood again. Sometimes it's light but other times it can become "regular menstrual cycle" heavy. The spotting can last anywhere from a few days on and off or two weeks straight.

I noticed this started happening after I became a vegetarian (whereas before I never had spotting, but my periods were MUCH heavier). Lighter periods overall but spotting inbetween. What gives?
posted by zippity to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Are you on the pill? Do you eat a lot more soy than you used to? True, a small study showed no evidence that soy prevents the effectiveness of oral contraceptives...but it is an interaction that's under investigation.

(I know that I only spot when I'm a twit and forget to take my pill for a couple of days.)
posted by desuetude at 11:28 AM on April 20, 2006

I'm not sure, but I've had a few instances of spotting in the past (both light and heavy), and it's always been when I've started a new herbal supplement (but not a vitamin). I was on the pill each time (first Ortho-Tricyclen Lo, and then Yasmin). The spotting would continue until my next period, and then stop when the period was over (even when I continued taking the supplements). If it has anything to do with it, I have PCOS; the times that I spotted I do recall feeling my ovaries cramp up a bit more than usual.

If this sounds relevant, and you end up speaking to a doctor about it, perhaps she might draw a correlation. I never asked any of my doctors about it, because it always seemed to correct itself and didn't cause me any alarm.
posted by penchant at 11:40 AM on April 20, 2006

After you became a vegetarian? I don't know, but if you're not getting enough iron . . .? Or protein. Make sure that you're eating a very balanced diet. Some spotting is totally normal, but if I were you and this kept up I'd be seeing a doctor.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:49 AM on April 20, 2006

Best answer: I don't really know either, but thought I'd pass on that when one of my friends was having periods every 2 weeks for a while, her gyno told her to take pre-natal vitamins because all that bleeding means you're losing vitamins and minerals...
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 12:01 PM on April 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Depending on your age, it may be a result of peri-menopause. The 5 to 15 years before menopause often comes with unusually light, heavy, irregular, or more frequent periods.
posted by zarah at 12:02 PM on April 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Are you pregnant?
posted by crazycanuck at 12:03 PM on April 20, 2006

I experienced this for a few months and after an endometrial biopsy it was determined I had endometritis -- a week or so of doxycycline (an antibiotic) cleared it up. Most of the references you'll find on endometritis refer to post-pregnancy issues, but that wasn't my problem (by about 24 years -- I'm perimenopausal now). My PA said it often just happens for no discernible reason. (I've been a vegetarian for many, many years, that isn't it.)

The biopsy's no fun, but not too bad and it only takes a few minutes. Ask your gynecologist about it.
posted by redheadeb at 12:07 PM on April 20, 2006

How old are you?
posted by raedyn at 12:16 PM on April 20, 2006

Do you have a female roommate who is on a different type of Pill than you, assuming you are on the Pill? For example, are you on a triphasal pill like Ortho-tricyclen and your roommate on a monophasal pill like Ovcon? If so, her monophasal cycle could be causing you to have two periods a month. I experienced that one with my last female roommate.
posted by onhazier at 12:42 PM on April 20, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies thus far mefites! To answer your questions:

1. I am not taking any kind of birth control (conversely, I am definitely not pregnant)

2. I actually do not eat any soy at all, though I did when I first started being vegetarian. I haven't consumed any soy products in the last couple of months.

3. I am in my early 20's, so it's probably not due to menopause. :]
posted by zippity at 12:44 PM on April 20, 2006

Best answer: I am not trying to scare you but please, please go get yourself checked by your gyno. I started having the same thing and then it got worse, very heavy bleeding and after he did a D & C I found out I had uterine cancer. (I am ok now--caught it early enough.)
posted by govtdrone at 12:57 PM on April 20, 2006

Did you recently start or stop exercising heavily? Did you recently start or stop going through a lot of stress?
posted by salvia at 2:28 PM on April 20, 2006

I know having heavy periods while eating a lot of meat is a typical cluster of symptoms in chinese medicine. It happened to me, and the tea I was recommended really helped.

Any Chinese Medicine / acupuncture types out there who can say if the opposite is true -- suddenly no meat => spotting? Or you could ask a professional (lots of schools have cheap consultations).
posted by salvia at 2:37 PM on April 20, 2006

You may be experiencing some spotting after you ovulate, given the timing. Some women do notice spotting after ovulation. Most women ovulate between 12 and 16 days after their period begins. (Do not assume you always ovulate at day 14 of your cycle, which they tell you in school; this is an average but is not necessarily true for you.)

If you are interested in learning more about your body, I HIGHLY recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. You can take your basal body temperature (available for $10 at any drugstore), which can help you determine when you ovulate. The TCOYF book has some advice for women trying to become or prevent becoming pregnant, but it also has great tips for any woman who wants to learn more about how her body works.

In brief, typically your basal body temperature (the temp of your body just when you wake up) is at a lower level from the time your period begins to the time you ovulate. After ovulation, progesterone causes your body temperature to rise, perhaps by 0.5 degrees or higher. You'll know your period is coming when your temperature falls back down, and you'll know that you're pregnant if your temperature stays high for 18 consecutive days.

By taking your BBT, you might learn when you are actually having your period and when you are ovulating, and you can use that information to speak with your dr. See Good luck!
posted by stonefruit at 4:48 PM on April 20, 2006

Best answer: I had your same problem (after being a vegetarian for many years, though I never considered whether that had anything to do with it, and none of the doctors I consulted ever asked me about it). Gradually, the spotting became really serious, amounting to a full-on heavy flow nearly every day of the month, with quite painful cramping. This went on for nearly a year while we attempted to control it with various chemical methods (including bc pills, the Nueva ring, and injected hormones). Nothing worked, and eventually I became constantly ill and generally depressed.

The diagnosis ended up being simply dysfunctional uterine bleeding, cause unknown, since all my hormone levels were normal, as was every other damn level tested, from thyroid to blood sugar to you name it. Sonograms revealed that my uterine lining was abnormally thickened and that I'd developed polyps as well. In the end, only surgery resolved the problem. (By the way, I'm older than you, but like you, nowhere near menopause.)

If you read the information here you will see that there are literally dozens of potential causes for what's happening to you, from something as serious as cancer (as in govtdrone's situation) to as manageable as stress. What happened to me may have nothing to with your situation, and I am truly not trying to be an alarmist, but I wanted to let you know that something serious could be happening to you to be causing this, so be careful. See a doctor. Get your hormone levels checked, have a Pap smear, and get a sonogram if you can manage it if the first tests don't reveal any problems. My situation, just recently resolved, stole away a lot of my happiness. I wish I'd been more aggressive earlier about treating and ending it, in retrospect.
posted by melissa may at 4:54 PM on April 20, 2006

If you're not pregnant or on birth control, haven't abruptly changed your diet or lifestyle very recently, and if this is a new symptom that is now occuring regularly, then it's time to go to the gyn and get checked out.
posted by desuetude at 6:36 PM on April 20, 2006

I've had pretty erratic periods all my life, but it wasn't until I went on the Pill that I realised that my on-again-off-again periods were actually a cycle of periods and spotting. My spotting is quite unobtrusive, so I'm lucky in that case.

I do urge you to get to a gyn though. My doctor noticed an irregular blood vessel that bled profusely on minimal contact, during a pap smear. I had a hysteroscopy and uterine curettage last week (camera in the uterus, plus samples taken) to see if it was a sign of anything more malicious. So far, all signs point to no, but I don't find out the results until June.

See the gynacologist, and while you're waiting, get yourself on the vitamins. The spotting could just be benign, but extra vitamins will be a good thing regardless.
posted by chronic sublime at 5:15 AM on April 21, 2006

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