My dreams became bloodstained. I will repeat your anointing [cervical screening] was clear ‘to myself, over and over, like a mantra; and I kept pushing myself that the blood appeared at the same time every month.
“The timing of ovulation varies according to the length of a woman’s cycle,” says Bailey, “Ovulation generally occurs 14 days before a period. In a regular cycle of 28 days, this means that ovulation in the middle of the cycle will take place on day 14.
“For women with longer cycles, such as 35 days, ovulation is likely to occur on day 21. There is no test to prove that bleeding is secondary to ovulation: therefore, the diagnosis of ovulation bleeding is based on the timing and nature of the bleeding. “
I did not know what to make of it: the pieces of information I had gathered online, or the blood that kept flowing into my vaginal discharge and onto the toilet, rolled in my hand. But when I had been seeing blood in different colors for a full week, I knew I could not continue to try to make self-diagnosis.
“Any irregular, heavy, or painful bleeding between periods should be examined by your doctor,” says Bailey. An ultrasound scan of the pelvis can be performed to rule out polyps, fibroids or thickening of the lining of the endometrium. Often, irregular bleeding is due to hormone imbalances; but infections are a common cause of intermenstrual bleeding, and women should seek an STI screen at a GP or sexual health clinic.
“Bleeding after sex requires a full assessment of the cervix, which is called a colposcopy; and women over 25 should always attend for cervical smear testing when called.”
I managed to get a scan. The results clearly came back, and I was assured that the bleeding I was experiencing could be attributed to ovulation bleeding and nothing more. I had what Bailey describes as a “diagnosis of exclusion,” meaning other causes were excluded.
I asked Bailey if the “dramatic fluctuation” she described between estrogen and progesterone, which could potentially lead to heavier bleeding, could be caused by stress; to which she replied that “yes, it can.”
Now things were starting to pick up: I was overly stressed at work during the time I was experiencing that heavy ovulation hemorrhage (and the fear surrounding the hemorrhage itself, ironically, did not help my stress levels). But I should have gone to my family doctor right away, rather than trying to make self-diagnosis.
This is not to say that there are no useful resources out there; but even though my bleeding was no cause for concern, I could not have known for sure (and I could have spared myself months of worry). Ovulation bleeding can be a result of hormonal imbalances caused by stress; but it is by no means a guaranteed reason for a hemorrhage.
Currently, there is not enough information available about ovulation bleeding; and so anyone who experiences any unusual bleeding should always make an appointment with their GP. I would never want anyone to be as scared as I am; and it is essential that we gain more clarity about the causes, signs and manifestations of this lesser known vaginal bleeding.
If you are concerned about irregular vaginal bleeding, it is advisable to make an appointment with your GP to discuss diagnosis and treatment. You can find your local GP here.