Why Am I Bleeding 2 Weeks After My Period?

JANE FLANAGAN / YOUR BODY

Some people experience a menstrual cycle that is on average 28 days long, which means (roughly) monthly periods. The first day of your cycle is counted from the first day of your period. 

If you’re bleeding 14 days after your last period, it could be that you have a shorter abnormal menstrual cycle. Or, it could be non-period bleeding. Let’s explore!

What Could Cause Bleeding Between Periods?

The average adult menstrual cycle is 32 days long. But that doesn’t mean that everybody’s cycle runs like clockwork. Some of us have shorter or longer cycles. And some women have very irregular periods.

Also, it’s worth noting that even if your cycle is around the commonly referenced 28 days, most calendar months are slightly longer. This means your period won’t begin on the same date every month and, over time, may shift to an entirely different time of month. 

The combination of:

  • A menstrual cycle range less than every 31 days, plus 
  • A period that falls at the start of one month 

could result in two periods occurring within the same calendar month.

A shorter or irregular menstrual cycle may be caused by:

  • Anovulation: The lack of ovulation—when your ovary releases a follicle (oocyte)—in a menstrual cycle
  • Endocrine abnormalities like, hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism: An abnormally functioning  thyroid may cause an abnormal menstrual cycle, including absent, heavy, irregular, or erratic periods

Is Vaginal Bleeding Really a Second Period?

Every 21 to 35 days, a new reproductive cycle starts as the uterus sheds its lining and menstruation occurs. Period flow can last anywhere from a few days to a week and can range from light to heavy.

But if you’re bleeding 14 days after your last period, don’t jump to the conclusion that it’s necessarily a second period. There are many possible reasons for uterine or vaginal bleeding between periods, a phenomenon called intermenstrual bleeding

It’s definitely worth noting how much uterine or vaginal bleeding is occurring and understanding whether you’re spotting or experiencing heavy bleeding. 

In general, spotting would mean a few drops of blood on your underwear or toilet paper with wiping. You might want to wear a panty liner or Leakproof Underwear, but you don’t require a tampon or pad.

If you’re bleeding more heavily, to the point where you need a pad or tampon, it’s worth consulting a doctor to understand whether the bleeding is due to menses (a period) or another cause. Abnormal blood loss could be a cause for concern, as it could potentially result in, or exacerbate, anemia and/or be due to an underlying cause. 

But what could those causes be? Given the specific timing of the question, it could be ovulation.


A Potential Cause: Ovulation

Your ovary releases a follicle (oocyte) each month, around days 13–15 of a 28-day menstrual cycle. After the oocyte is released from the ovary (ovulation), it moves into the fallopian tube. 

For many women, the days around ovulation go completely unnoticed. But for some, ovulation is an event they may feel and notice due to other associated symptoms. One of those symptoms could be, light spotting.

During reproductive ages, the ovary releases an oocyte every month. This event occurs when a dominant ovarian follicle ruptures and releases an oocyte. After ovulation, the oocyte moves through the fallopian tube for 12-24 hours, waiting to be fertilized.

Rupture of a dominant ovarian follicles can cause some light spotting and some women can even feel it happen in the course of their normal menstrual cycle.

That feeling usually manifests as a slight twinge or pain on one side of your abdomen. This pain is called mittelschmerz. It translates literally as “middle pain”. It’s the name for the slight twinge or cramp that some women may experience when the follicle releases the egg roughly 13-15 days before their next period starts.

While it can be uncomfortable for some, mittelschmerz can often be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers and home remedies, according to the Mayo Clinic

Learn More About What Happens When You Ovulate

The best way to understand whether your bleeding may correspond with ovulation is to track your cycle using an app or diary. 

If you’re experiencing vagina or uterine bleeding outside of ovulation, there are many other possible causes. Tracking when spotting occurs is important, so you can share these details with your doctor if necessary. 

Other Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

Below is a list of the most common reasons you might be bleeding or spotting between periods. While this list is not exhaustive, it does cover common causes, including birth control methods and other causes.

Birth Control Causes

  • Birth control pills: According to Medical News Today, irregular bleeding between periods can occur in the first 6 months of taking a new birth control pill, or switching between birth control pills. Doctors sometimes refer to this as breakthrough bleeding. Usually light red or reddish-brown, the blood tends to look similar to that at the start or end of a period.
  • Morning-after pill: According to the Mayo Clinic, the morning-after pill can cause bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding. Spotting or light bleeding can occur up to 1 month after taking emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy, although most people who take the morning-after pill do not experience bleeding between periods. 
  • Intrauterine device (IUD): Some women with an IUD for birth control may also experience non-period bleeding. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "Breakthrough bleeding happens more often with low-dose and ultra-low-dose birth control pills, the implant, and hormonal IUDs."

Other Causes

  • Trauma or medical examination: If you’ve experienced rough sex or a pelvic exam including a speculum, you may also experience vaginal bleeding.
  • Medications: Certain medications may cause abnormal vaginal bleeding. Your pharmacist should advise you of any side effects of medication.
  • Stress: Increased stress may trigger many reactions, including breakthrough or abnormal uterine bleeding.

Common Infections

The following infections may cause abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods. It’s worth noting that most infections are treatable. However, it's important to see a doctor as infections can become more serious if symptoms are ignored.

  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI), including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an ascending infection of the upper female reproductive system

Pregnancy-Related Causes

  • Implantation bleeding: After a sperm fertilizes an egg, the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. Sometimes, implantation may cause spotting known as implantation bleeding.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: Signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding.
  • Pregnancy: According to the American Pregnancy Association, 20% of women experience spotting during the first 12 weeks of being pregnant.
  • Miscarriage: Heavy spotting is one of the symptoms of miscarriage.
  • Breastfeeding: Depending on the frequency of breastfeeding and your own individual hormone levels, spotting may occur before full periods return.

Other Causes

  • Fibroids or polyps: Symptoms of these benign tumors can include irregular or heavy periods and heavy bleeding between periods.
  • Endometriosis: According to the Mayo Clinic, women with endometriosis may experience occasional heavy menstrual periods, and bleeding or spotting between periods (intermenstrual bleeding).
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a syndrome associated with abnormal ovulation that can sometimes make it difficult to get pregnant. It can also cause abnormal bleeding, including irregular menstrual periods or none at all.
  • Blood clotting disorders like von Willebrand disease, which affects the blood's ability to clot—can result in bleeding between periods. Warning signs include heavy bleeding after injury, frequent prolonged nosebleeds, or routine procedures such as dental work.
  • Other health conditions, like hypothyroidism, liver disease, or chronic kidney disease can cause non-period bleeding.
  • Cancer: Cancer or precancer of the cervix, uterus, or (very rarely) fallopian tube can cause spotting or abnormal bleeding.

Perimenopause & Menopause

  • Perimenopause: The time before menopause is known as perimenopause. During perimenopause, hormone levels fluctuate greatly. These hormonal shifts can have an effect on ovulation and your entire menstrual cycle. Some women notice irregular or skipped periods and abnormal bleeding between periods during perimenopause. 
  • Vaginal dryness: As vaginal mucosa gets thinner due to lack of estrogen after menopause, it is also more vulnerable to irritation which can cause bleeding.
  • Cancer: According to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, spotting in post-menopausal women can, in some cases, be an early sign of cancer and should always be investigated further.

Risks

Depending on the cause of intermenstrual bleeding, the risks to your health will be different. However, anemia is one risk that is common to all causes, especially those that result in heavy bleeding and particularly when paired with heavy periods.

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body's tissues. It can have many causes, including heavier menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods (intermenstrual bleeding).

Anemia doesn’t always have symptoms. But, according to the Mayo Clinic, some signs and symptoms of anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chilly hands and feet
  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeats

When to Seek Medical Advice

If bleeding is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it warrants getting some medical advice from your doctor.

  • Heavy periods with a lot of clotting
  • Irregular periods
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Pain or a burning sensation when peeing
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge and/or redness, irritation, or itchiness of the vagina or external genitalia (vulva)

Even if you don’t have any of the above symptoms, don’t ever ignore abnormal vaginal bleeding or abnormal uterine bleeding in the following situations:

  • If you think you’re pregnant: You should always see a doctor as soon as you think you may be pregnant to be administered a pregnancy test
  • When it happens frequently: If spotting seems to happen frequently and randomly, you should definitely schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable provider.
  • It begins after unprotected sex: Unprotected sex can put you at risk for STIs and other infections, so if you notice spotting after unprotected sex, it’s wise to visit a doctor
  • You are on medication: If spotting can be a side effect of any medication you are on, you should seek out professional help
  • Spotting occurs post-menopause: It is never considered normal for anybody post-menopause to experience spotting or vaginal bleeding; speak to your doctor

Track Your Menstrual Cycle in a Journal or App

If you suspect you’re bleeding at irregular intervals, it’s a really good idea to start tracking your cycle in a journal or app. This can help you understand the rhythms of your own body and communicate any concerns to your doctor. 


But even if your periods are regular, it's still good practice to track them so you know when your next one is likely to start and when you're ovulating. Remember, everybody has their own cycle and flow, and it may be affected by many factors—both internal and external.


What to Track

When you’re tracking, pay attention to bleeding, but also other symptoms, including:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Cramps or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness 
  • When the bleeding started, and whether it was earlier or later than anticipated
  • How heavy the flow was, and whether it was lighter or heavier than usual
  • How long your period lasted, and whether it was shorter or longer than previous months

You can even make notes about sudden increases in libido or mood changes. Remember that bleeding may be a symptom of many different causes.


When to Talk to Your Doctor

If bleeding continues, seek medical advice. Have the information you've tracked in your diary medically reviewed by your doctor. This will help you speak to your doctor with more certainty and provide them with valuable information to help with a diagnosis.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Chimsom T. Oleka, M.D, Written by Jane Flanagan — Updated on October 9, 2021.