Bloody Discharge: Causes and Treatment

Seeing bloody discharge when you didn’t expect it can be worrying. But bloody discharge can be normal and isn’t always a sign of an emergency. Age, lifestyle, and medical history all play a role in determining the cause of bleeding.

This article will explain common causes of bloody discharge, when to see a healthcare provider, and how to treat or prevent it in the future.

Causes of bloody discharge

A bloody discharge doesn’t always indicate a problem. In fact, in many cases, it points to a normal body response.

menstrual cycle

Menstruation is the shedding of the lining of the uterus, the most common bloody discharge. It can indicate the start of your menstrual cycle or menstrual cycle. It occurs on average every 28 days or about 14 days after regular ovulation.

The color of your menstrual cycle may change during your cycle, starting with pink, brown, or black blood and transitioning to burgundy or red blood.

in early adolescence

Age is often a factor in menstrual irregularities. menarcheor the onset of menstruation, is a normal process that usually occurs around age 12 in girls.

After your first period, you usually don’t have your period for several months, which can lead to irregular bloody discharge. This is because the hormone cycles responsible for ovulation and normal menstruation can take a while to mature.

Perimenopause and HT

Perimenopause is the stage that leads to menopause – or your last period. In general, most women begin to notice perimenopausal symptoms in their 40s, with an average age of 47.

Changes in the menstrual cycle during perimenopause are normal. Your periods may be shorter, longer, heavier or lighter than usual. You might even miss some periods.

Hormone therapy or HT refers to a combination of the female hormone estrogen and/or progesterone medication. Some women may take these medications to relieve perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. A known side effect of HT is irregular bleeding.

pregnancy related

While bleeding can be a problem during pregnancy, it’s actually quite common during the first trimester of pregnancy or normal pregnancy.

About 15% to 25% of pregnant women experience bleeding in the first trimester. Bleeding is usually light and occurs after fertilization (when a fertilized egg implants in the lining of the uterus). This type of bleeding is also sometimes called implantation bleeding and is nothing to worry about.

While implantation bleeding is common, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about bleeding during pregnancy, as it may signal a more serious condition.

Causes of bloody discharge

In some cases, bloody discharge or bleeding between periods may indicate a more serious condition. In all cases, it’s important to fully track your symptoms and consult your healthcare provider, as bloody discharge is often one of many symptoms that aid in the diagnosis.

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endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory disorder in which tissue normally found in the lining of the uterus forms in other organs of the female reproductive or endocrine system.

Symptoms vary in severity and may cause irregular menstrual bleeding or spotting between periods. Diagnosing endometriosis is challenging, so it is important to monitor for other symptoms, such as severe cramping, unexplained pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, fatigue, and bladder problems.


Many common cancers experienced by women rarely cause symptoms in the early stages. If early symptoms do appear, they are usually extramenstrual bleeding or spotting.

  • Uterine cancer is the most common gynecological cancer in the United States. It mainly refers to two cancers that affect the uterus: endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. Both can cause bleeding between menstrual cycles or after menopause, among other symptoms.
  • Cervical cancer occurs in the cervix and most cases are attributed to humans papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection (STI). One of the most common early symptoms of cervical cancer is irregular bleeding. This can occur outside of menstruation, heavy menstrual bleeding, or post-coital bleeding.
  • Ovarian cancer affects a woman’s ovaries and surrounding structures. There are usually no early symptoms. But young ovarian cancer patients often have germ cell tumors (tumors that start in the cells that make eggs) or sex cord stromal tumors (the structural tissue cells that hold the ovaries together and produce estrogen and progesterone). In these cases, abnormal vaginal bleeding or menstrual-like bleeding is a common symptom.

Bursting ovarian cyst

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form inside or on top of the ovary. They are common and usually resolve on their own, but in some cases burst and are associated with abnormal bleeding or bloody discharge.

A ruptured ovarian cyst usually causes severe and sudden pain on one side of the pelvis. This usually happens after sex or strenuous activity.

infectious cause

  • Vaginosis: Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common condition in which the normal balance of vaginal flora is disrupted by sex, body products or antibiotics, resulting in an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria. Symptoms are usually mild, but may include post-coital bleeding, a burning sensation or a “fishy smell” when urinating.
  • STIs: Bleeding or spotting between periods can also be a symptom of an STI such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or Trichomoniasis. STI symptoms may be accompanied by abnormal discharge, or pain or itching in the vaginal area.

pregnancy problems

Although bleeding is common in early pregnancy, you should always check with your healthcare provider as some cases may be cause for concern.

  • Ectopic pregnancy: One cause of abnormal bleeding in early pregnancy is an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy usually occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the wall of the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. Vaginal bleeding is sometimes the only sign of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Miscarriage: Although very disturbing but not uncommon, a miscarriage (also known as an early-trimester miscarriage) is a miscarriage before the 20th week of pregnancy (or about four and a half months). Typical symptoms of a miscarriage include bleeding (from spotting to heavy bleeding) and discharge of fluid and tissue.
  • Preterm birth: Birth that begins before 37 weeks is called a preterm birth or preterm birth. Signs and symptoms of preterm labor include changes in vaginal discharge (bloody, watery, mucus), abdominal or pelvic pain, and contractions.

Thyroid disease

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the front of the neck. In addition to controlling metabolism, heart rate, and other functions, thyroid hormones also play a vital role in reproductive health.

Women are 10 times more likely to develop thyroid disease than men, This can lead to menstrual complications. Too much or too little thyroid hormone can make your periods too light, heavy or irregular. Thyroid disease can also cause your periods to stop for several months or longer, a condition called amenorrhea.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic condition that affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age and impairs fertility. The symptoms of PCOS vary, making this chronic disease so confusing.

A common symptom of PCOS is irregular, irregular or heavy periods. This is because people with PCOS often have higher levels of male hormones, called androgens, which lower the proportion of female sex hormones, such as those that control the menstrual cycle.

This can result in missed periods for several months, or two or more irregular periods in a month.

Obstructive cause

Bleeding doesn’t always indicate a medical condition. Sometimes a common obstruction causes a bloody discharge.

  • Retained tampons: It’s easy to forget about tampons in the vagina. Forgetting to remove one before intercourse or before inserting the other can cause discomfort and, in some cases, bleeding.
  • IUD: An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, flexible plastic device shaped like the letter T. It is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Some IUDs may lighten the menstrual cycle or prevent a woman from having them altogether. During the first three months after insertion, spots between periods are common.

anatomical reasons

Bloody discharge may also indicate a benign growth or mass in the genital area.

  • Polyps: Uterine polyps, also called endometrial polyps, are usually small, spherical pieces of endometrial tissue that attach to the uterus by a stem. Many people experience abnormal uterine bleeding, including bleeding between periods or after sex.
  • Fistula: A fistula is a passage or hole that forms between two organs or organs and the skin. A fistula that forms in the vaginal wall is called a vaginal fistula. There are several types of genital fistulas. In all cases, symptoms may include fluid leaking or flowing out of the vagina, including blood or pus.

When to see a healthcare provider

Any unexplained vaginal bleeding between periods is a reason to see a doctor. This is especially important if you have not yet gone through puberty, have gone through menopause, or are pregnant.

If you have periods, your healthcare provider may ask you questions about the timing, duration, and amount of bleeding. Consider using an app, calendar, or journal to track your cycle.

Additionally, your healthcare provider may ask questions about any other symptoms you experience. Therefore, monitoring for any pain, dizziness, or other discharge will help guide them to the cause.

To help diagnose your bloody discharge, they may do a pelvic exam, blood work, colposcopy, ultrasound, hysteroscopy, or other diagnostic tests.


A bloody discharge may be normal and is not always a sign of an emergency. In many cases, this is a normal body response. When bloody discharge occurs during menopause, later in pregnancy, or with other symptoms, it may indicate a more serious condition. Age, lifestyle, and medical history all play a role in determining the cause of non-menstrual bleeding, so it’s important to keep track of your symptoms and consult with your healthcare provider.

VigorTip words

It can be shocking to see blood on your underwear when you didn’t expect it. Our bodies are always communicating with us, using symptoms to guide us about natural processes or abnormalities. When it comes to bloody discharge, it’s not always bad news. Tracking your period is an easy way to help you understand your body cycle, what’s normal and what to flag.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is a slight bloody discharge normal?

    Yes, a mild bloody discharge may be normal during puberty, early pregnancy, or perimenopause. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have a bloody discharge outside of your menstrual cycle, after menopause, or with other symptoms such as severe pain.

  • What does a small amount of bloody discharge mean?

    A little bloody discharge can mean many different things, from implantation bleeding in early pregnancy to normal menopause symptoms. It can also point to a more serious condition, so be sure to keep track of any other symptoms to help your healthcare provider make a diagnosis.

  • Can stress cause vaginal bleeding?

    Yes, hormonal imbalances caused by chronic stress can lead to irregular periods, abnormal vaginal bleeding, amenorrhea, heavy periods, dysmenorrhea, and premenstrual symptoms.