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Cramping & spotting brown in between periods

Spotting can happen at anytime during your menstrual cycle, but it is more likely to happen between periods. According to Mothernature.com, about 5 per cent of women experience menstrual spotting. Spotting is defined as a light staining of blood, which happens normally around the time of ovulation, but could also happen outside of this time. Here are some of the most common causes of cramping and spotting between menstrual periods.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is condition caused by the endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus. During a normal menstrual cycle, the lining in the uterus thickens and fills with blood and tissue, to await the reception of a fertilised egg. When this fertilisation doesn't take place, the egg, uterine lining, and blood, break down and flow through the cervix as a menstrual period. With endometriosis, this lining will grow anywhere in the body and will bleed from wherever this growth takes place. The two main symptoms of endometriosis are cramping (sometimes severe) and spotting (or irregular bleeding).

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, some women experience light bleeding around the time of their normal menstrual cycle called "implantation bleeding" or "spotting." This usually happens around the fourth week of pregnancy. Implantation bleeding may be pink or light brown, and in some cases may resemble a light menstrual flow. This bleeding occurs when the fertilised egg burrows into the endometrial lining. During the time the lining thickened up in the menstrual cycle, it also filled with blood, so when the embryo burrows into it, a small amount of blood may escape.

Perimenopause

Perimenopause (menopausal transition) is a period of time that occurs two to three years before the onset of menopause. During this time the hormone oestrogen, which controls the function of the ovaries, begins to decrease. This decrease can cause the period to become sporadic, heavier, lighter, longer or shorter. Also during this time, women may find that they experience spotting and cramping. Once menopause begins, women may experience spotting after sexual intercourse, due to a lack of vaginal lubrication, contributed by the lack of oestrogen.

Hormonal disorders

According to the National Institutes of Health, hormonal disorders such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) may cause irregular bleeding and spotting between periods. Normally the hormone oestrogen gradually rises, causing one of your ovaries to start producing an egg. Midway through your cycle oestrogen spikes; causing the ovary to release the egg, in the ovulation process. With PCOS, oestrogen sends an irregular amount of hormone to the ovary, causing the ovary to close before the egg is released, or to open before the egg is produced. This fluctuation in oestrogen also causes the hormone progesterone to fluctuate, which may cause irregular periods and often leads to spotting.

Use of oral contraceptives

Birth control pills are known to cause in between bleeding and spotting. This is due to the low dose of hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) used in the pills to prevent pregnancy. Combination birth control pills contain the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, and they are often used to not only prevent pregnancy, but also to control the menstrual cycle.

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About the Author

April Khan is a medical journalist who began writing in 2005. She has contributed to publications such as "BBC Focus." In 2012, Khan received her Doctor of Public Health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She also holds an Associate of Arts from the Art Institute of Dallas and a Master of Science in international health from University College London.