What Is Breakthrough Bleeding?
It refers to the bleeding that occurs when the body is trying to adjust itself to increase in the level of hormones happening from the consumption of contraceptive pills. It is also a result of menstruation that takes place outside the usual menstrual time period. The bleeding pattern is determined by the manner of birth control.
This condition is more commonly known as Spotting.
When Does Breakthrough Bleeding Occur?
It can generally occur at various stages of use of birth control means, such as at the beginning of the regimen, or when there is an effort to change brands. The bleeding mostly stops by itself and generally lasts for only one or two cycles. In most cases, the bleeding is only moderate. However, it may be heavy in some cases.
Who Suffers From Breakthrough Bleeding?
Women who use hormonal contraceptives are the common sufferers of this condition. It is also more often seen in individuals who have been smokers for a long time. Estrogen and progesterone are the hormones that are commonly responsible for this syndrome. These contraceptive hormones may either be taken as a combination or even alone. Breakthrough bleeding can arise when these hormones are often taken in oral or in any other form.
Other than oral form, hormonal contraceptives may also be administered as subcutaneous implantation in the form of a birth control device, patches and injection. Such contraceptive devices can also be directly positioned into the vagina as a Vaginal Ring contraceptive instrument.
Breakthrough Bleeding Causes
It is typically a result of the regulation of the physical system in reaction to the absorption of Progesterone and Estrogen hormones. Some other causes of Breakthrough Bleeding include
- Hormonal effects of ovulation
- Excessive thickening of the Endometrium lining
- Sexually transmitted disorders
- Ovarian cysts in the early stages of pregnancy
- Thyroid disorders
Natural levels of circulating hormones can vacillate even in the absence of hormonal birth control methods such as contraceptives, thereby resulting in bleeding. Moreover, a slump in functioning of the Thyroid glands can also lead to this occurrence. Changes in diet as well as body weight can also act as reasons for breakthrough bleeding. In some cases, medicines like anticoagulants can be a causative factor for unusual bleeding from the uterus as they intervene in the assemblage of platelets. This can lead to the thinning of blood.
Breakthrough Bleeding Treatment
The treatment for breakthrough bleeding usually depends on the cause. If bleeding occurs due to use of birth control methods, the healthcare provider may use cure to adjust the amount of hormones in the drugs. If that is not possible, the physician may substitute that drug with an altogether dissimilar contraceptive method. The patient may also be recommended to quit smoking. This can eliminate or reduce bleeding between menstrual periods.
Breakthrough Bleeding Complications
If the spotting or abnormal bleeding becomes worse or is attended by weakness, vaginal discharge or pain, a more acute medical condition may be the cause. In such cases, patients may be recommended to undergo further medical checkups. The aim of medical evaluation is to rule out abnormal thyroid function, gynecological malignancy or even infection.
In most cases, bleeding is not a medically threat to a person. In most cases, however, it can be unpleasant and unpredictable.
Breakthrough Bleeding In Pregnancy
It may be entirely normal to suffer from this condition during pregnancy. Bleeding of any type during pregnancy can be a cause for worry. Fortunately, not all cases of bleeding during pregnancy are acute.
Estrogen Breakthrough Bleeding
Normal menstrual bleeding in the ovulatory cycle is a result of a decline in progesterone due to the demise of the corpus luteum. It is thus a progesterone withdrawal bleeding. As there is no progesterone in the Anovulatory cycle, bleeding is caused by the inability of estrogen – that needs to be present to stimulate the Endometrium in the first place – to support a growing Endometrium. Anovulatory bleeding is hence termed estrogen breakthrough bleeding.
How to Stop Breakthrough Bleeding?
This condition can be stopped by the following methods.
Try to gain as much weight as any woman of your age should have. An abnormally thin build can contribute to lower levels of estrogen hormone. Petite women are generally found to have this issue. Gaining weight can help avert this disease. A nutritionist or doctor can guide you about right foods that can help increase your body weight.
Smoking causes many health problems and also reduces the level of estrogen in the human body. Cessation of smoking can help avoid as well as recover from this condition much faster.
Substituting oral contraceptive
Hormonal contraceptives are a common cause of estrogen reduction in the body. Using another contraceptive drug as a substitute can avoid this problem. However, this can be true only if it does not have any estrogen-reducing property.
Estrogen reduction can also be countered by taking Vitamin C or grapefruit juice along with hormonal contraceptive pills. Having birth control pills during night, when there is no food in the system, can also prevent this condition. It is best to consult your doctor before taking all these steps.
How Long Does Breakthrough Bleeding Last?
This condition usually lasts for up to 2 or 3 days. In some cases, Breakthrough bleeding period can be just a few hours. In certain situations, a woman may suffer from this syndrome for as long as 5 days.
Breakthrough Bleeding In Early Pregnancy
Heavy Breakthrough Bleeding is quite common in the early stages of pregnancy. Nearly one-fourth of all pregnant women may suffer from spotting during early pregnancy. If bleeding arises along with cramping and stomach pain, immediate medical treatment is necessary.
What Does Breakthrough Bleeding Look Like?
Spotting appears as a heavy bright red discharge.
This type of bleeding occurs in the very initial stages of pregnancy. It happens when the egg implants itself into the wall of the uterus. It takes place around the same time as menstrual period and hence, makes it hard to differentiate between the two factors.
Breakthrough Bleeding After Menopause
This condition is also common in post-menopausal women. Breakthrough menstrual bleeding usually arises as a result of hormonal imbalance. This is diagnosed with the aid of different tests such as blood tests and pelvic examination. Blood tests are conducted to measure level of different hormones in the human body. The objective of pelvic examination is to ascertain whether the uterus and the ovaries are normal.
However, occurrence of this condition may also signify that menstruation has kick-started once again and menopause has not occurred in the woman.
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Written by anirudh
on September 30th, 2011. The article was last updated on September 30th, 2011