There are several things that could cause bleeding between periods, such as changes to your hormonal levels, use of hormonal contraception or contraceptive devices, an infection, or an injury, for example.
Changes to your hormonal levels
Some women may experience bleeding about 10-14 days after their period. This is usually caused by a temporary drop in levels of the hormone oestrogen at the time of ovulation (when an egg is released by an ovary). This is quite normal.
As well as reduced oestrogen levels, you may also experience other hormonal imbalances, which are completely harmless. This could be as a result of stress, or a recent change of diet. Your doctor will be able to diagnose this by taking a blood sample, and can advise you about possible treatments.
Use of hormonal contraception
If you have recently started taking hormonal contraceptives it is not uncommon to experience bleeding between periods due to the drop in hormone levels. This will usually happen around two weeks after your last period, and is often referred to as breakthrough bleeding. Your periods will usually become more regular within six months, and the bleeding between your periods should stop after a month or two. Bleeding between periods can also occur if you forget to take one of your oral contraceptives.
However, if bleeding occurs at other points during your menstrual cycle, you should consult your doctor in order to rule out the possibility of other conditions.
If you use other hormonal contraceptives such as a depot injection or rod, you may have some slight bleeding between your first two or three periods after you have the device fitted. Many women have heavier, longer and more painful periods, but this may improve over time. If you have prolonged bleeding it may be possible for your doctor to give you additional medicine that can help control the bleeding. They may also check the bleeding is not due to other causes such as an infection.
Vaginal bleeding may occur during certain fertility procedures - for example, during the egg collection stage of IVF treatment. Usually it is mild to moderate bleeding with some cramping. However, if you experience heavy bleeding, you should contact your fertility clinic or doctor for advice.
When to seek help
If you are bleeding very heavily or you feel faint or that you might pass out, call triple zero (000) immediately and ask for an ambulance. If calling triple zero (000) does not work on your mobile phone, try calling 112.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about bleeding between periods, check your symptoms with healthdirect's online Symptom checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Last reviewed: July 2015