It is possible to confuse vaginal bleeding with a second period. Unusual vaginal bleeding can be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as:
This article will discuss possible causes of two periods in the same month, how to tell the difference between a period and vaginal bleeding, and when to contact a doctor about multiple periods or other bleeding.
Is it normal to have 2 periods in 1 month?
For some people, it may be normal to have two periods a month if it happens occasionally. However, it is not normal to systematically have two periods per month.
A typical menstrual cycle can range from 24 to 38 days. Every person is different, however, and your cycle may vary from month to month. You may simply have a shorter menstrual cycle which results in more frequent periods.
Learn more about what happens during a menstrual cycle.
For teenage girls who have just started menstruating, it is normal to have irregular menstrual cycles, including having two periods in 1 month. The years leading up to menopause can also include changes in menstrual patterns that increase the frequency of your periods.
However, for people who have gone through menopause, vaginal bleeding is not an expected symptom. Bleeding after menopause can be a sign of a serious illness, including some types of cancer.
If you are past menopause and have any type of vaginal bleeding, contact an OB-GYN.
What could cause 2 periods in 1 month?
Many factors can cause you to have two periods in 1 month:
People using hormonal birth control may experience breakthrough bleeding, which is spotting or bleeding that occurs between periods. Depending on the amount of bleeding, someone may mistake this bleeding for a second period.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), types of hormonal birth control that can cause breakthrough bleeding include:
- low-dose and ultra-low-dose oral contraceptives
- intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- contraceptive implant
ACOG explains that this type of bleeding usually goes away within a few months of starting these types of birth control. Contact an OB-GYN if you have questions or concerns about bleeding that occurs while using hormonal birth control.
Perimenopause is the phase when your body begins to go through menopause, when menstruation stops.
A first indicator of perimenopause is often a change in your menstrual cycle. This may include more frequent periods.
If you have extra periods and your OB-GYN has ruled out other conditions that may be causing bleeding, they may determine that you have entered perimenopause.
Learn five signs that you may be in perimenopause.
Your thyroid produces hormones that regulate how your body uses energy. Thyroid conditions can affect many body functions, including menstruation.
If your thyroid produces too much or too little hormone, it can cause symptoms, including heavy or irregular periods.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, about 1 in 8 women will have thyroid problems.
Learn more about recognizing the signs of thyroid disease.
Other causes of irregular periods
A variety of other conditions can cause irregularities in your menstrual cycle, which can include less frequent or more frequent periods. These include:
- strenuous exercise or physical training
- extreme weight changes
- eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- unmanaged diabetes
- Cushing’s syndrome
- certain medications, including medications for mental health disorders and epilepsy
If you have persistent changes in your menstrual cycle or any unexpected vaginal bleeding that concerns you, contact your OB-GYN.
What could cause vaginal bleeding?
Vaginal bleeding is different from menstruation. It occurs at times when bleeding is not expected, such as after menopause or between periods.
Second period vs vaginal bleeding
It can be hard to tell if the bleeding you’re experiencing between menstrual cycles is a second period or unexpected vaginal bleeding.
A 2016 research paper describes the differences as follows:
Causes of Vaginal Bleeding
Unexpected bleeding between periods that occurs frequently could be a sign of an underlying condition. Possible causes of vaginal bleeding include:
Learn more about the causes of vaginal bleeding and when to contact a doctor.
Discuss with your OB-GYN if you frequently have two periods in 1 month so they can make a timely diagnosis and begin appropriate treatment. Also contact your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
These symptoms may indicate an underlying condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment, such as:
- thyroid disease
- certain cancers
For some people, it may be normal to have two periods in 1 month. Young teens who have just started menstruating or people transitioning through menopause may experience irregular periods, which may include more frequent cycles.
In other cases, unexpected vaginal bleeding could indicate an underlying condition. Contact your OB-GYN for bleeding that occurs before puberty, after menopause, during pregnancy, or between periods in the early reproductive years.
If you experience bleeding with additional symptoms, such as abdominal pain or cramping, passage of blood clots, or signs of infection, contact your OB-GYN immediately.