Weight Loss & Spotting

Spotting refers to menstrual bleeding that occurs between a woman's regular periods. Stress, eating disorders and extreme weight loss can all cause menstrual irregularities, such as total cessation of periods, reports Medline Plus. Although spotting is not specifically mentioned as a possible side effect of weight loss, hormonal irregularities that may result from extreme dieting and exercising may cause mid-cycle bleeding.

A woman is measuring her waist. (Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Significance

Most women of childbearing age will experience spotting or light bleeding at some point in their lives, reports St. Johns Providence Health System. Spotting typically lasts 24 to 48 hours.

Spotting can occur due to hormonal change. Hormonal fluctuations can be due to excessive vigorous exercise, yo-yo dieting and stress, all of which can result in weight loss.

Considerations

Rapid and severe weight loss in women may also lead to complete cessation of periods, medically referred to as amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is often caused by eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, over-exercising and malnourishment, according to the website ChildDevelopmentInfo.com.

Prevention/Solution

Lifestyle adjustments may prevent menstrual irregularities. Eating a nutritious diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats is generally recommended for a missed menstrual cycle caused by dramatic weight loss. Cutting back on exercise may also help regulate periods, reports Medline Plus.

Precautions

Spotting between periods may indicate medical problems such as sexually transmitted infections, thyroid disease, uterine fibroids, polyps or even cancer. Spotting can also be a side effect of contraceptives. It is especially common in women with intrauterine devices or IUDs and those who take the birth control injection Depo-Provera, notes St. Johns Providence Health System. Contact your doctor if you have any unexplained spotting between periods.

Outlook

Start a menstrual diary if you have spotting or other vaginal bleeding that is not normal for you, advises Medline Plus. Noting the dates and lengths of your periods and spotting can help your health provider identify the exact cause of your between-period bleeding.

It's best to lose no more than 1 to 2 lbs per week, advises the Mayo Clinic. A successful weight loss program is based on a healthy, low-calorie diet combined with moderate exercise.

Tell your doctor if you are prone to binge eating or starvation or exercise excessively. You may benefit from professional therapy.

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