Spotting before a period can cause panic or distress among women. You might spend days wondering why you are spotting before your period. So, why am I spotting before my period? This question may result in sleepless nights; knowing the causes can help avoid that. Spotting before your period may or may not concerning but usually it is considered harmless. It can also be an early sign of pregnancy. Other causes of such spotting include hormonal imbalance, implantation bleeding, polyps, or other health conditions. All of these conditions may need proper medical evaluation and diagnosis.
What Is the Difference Between Spotting and Periods?
Spotting is light bleeding from the vagina that occurs outside your regular period, while the Menstrual cycle occurs one time in a month after completing its 20-21 cycle. Spotting typically involves a small quantity of blood. It is usually only noticeable on your underwear or toilet paper after wiping. Spotting is generally irregular and can occur anytime, although some women experience it simultaneously each month. There can be a variation in color texture (usually light pink), which is usually different from your regular period.
Bleeding when you are not supposed to have your period is considered intermenstrual or abnormal vaginal bleeding. A period is heavier, while spotting is light. Generally, any time you bleed and when you are not supposed to have your period falls under the category of spotting.
Menstrual bleeding happens approximately every 20-21 days. Bleeding due to your period is usually regular and predictable, although it can fluctuate slightly. Other symptoms: Bleeding caused by a period may be preceded or accompanied by nausea, breast tenderness, and cramping. Menstrual blood is primarily bright red, though there can be a bit of variation, a brownish tinge, or a black blood period.
What causes spotting before periods?
Spotting has various causes. Usually, spotting is harmless but rarely indicates a serious underlying health condition. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Birth control pills
Your hormonal birth control may be the culprit if you spot between periods. Hormonal birth control is available in the following forms:
Spotting on birth control can happen spontaneously or if you:
- start taking or using a hormone-based birth control method
- take birth control pills irregularly or skip the pills
- change the dose or switch birth control
- use birth control for an extended period
If you are wondering how to stop IUD bleeding and spotting, talk with a doctor if your symptoms are not improving. Another common concern amongst women is plan b spotting vs. implantation bleeding, which can be similar.
Talk with your healthcare provider before and after taking any birth control pills. If the bleeding continues for days, seeking medical attention will help you solve your issue.
Another common concern amongst women is plan B spotting vs. implantation bleeding, which can be similar sometimes. It’s good to discuss all the possible side effects with your healthcare provider before taking any birth control or Plan B pills.
Light spotting at the start of pregnancy is relatively common. It’s called implantation bleeding, which occurs when the egg gets fertilized and is implanted in the uterus. A certain number of pregnant women may notice spotting during their first trimester. The color of the blood can range from light to pink, brown, or red. Spotting after sex during pregnancy can occur as well. It typically shouldn’t raise any alarm, but informing your healthcare provider will help you stay away from the unwanted effects.
The spotting that is not common and can affect you badly is the spotting in your second trimester. It should not be overlooked, and you should inform your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Moreover, if you experience heavy bleeding or pelvic pain, they are concerning signs of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy that needs immediate medical assistance.
Ovulation spotting is the light bleeding around your menstrual cycle when an ovary releases an egg. Such spotting before the period typically occurs 14 days before menstruation.
Spotting during ovulation may be light pink or red. It usually lasts for 1 to 2 days and occurs mid-cycle.
Other signs and symptoms of ovulation may include:
- increased production of cervical mucus
- cervical mucus with a consistency similar to egg whites
- a change in the position or firmness of the cervix
- Changes to basal body temperature before and after ovulation
- increased sex drive
- a dull ache on one side of the abdomen
- breast tenderness
- heightened sense of smell, taste, or vision
Trauma can be one of the reasons why you experience spotting. It can be physical and sometimes psychological which leads to fluctuations in hormone levels (spike of cortisol levels), leading to pinkish brownish spotting on the following day after trauma.
Reproductive health conditions
Three common reproductive health conditions that are directly linked with the spotting between your periods are:
- Polyps: Benign growths on the cervix or uterus that may cause unusual discharge, bleeding after sex, or spotting between periods.
- Fibroids: Uterine growths that can lead to heavy periods, pelvic pain, and urinary issues, potentially affecting fertility.
- Endometriosis: Tissue resembling the uterine lining grows outside the uterus, causing symptoms like pelvic pain, heavy periods, painful intercourse, and bowel problems.
- PCOs: Irregular bleeding or spotting a week before the period can signify polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This condition typically results when a person’s ovaries or adrenal glands produce high amounts of male hormones, also known as androgens.
Certain medications can lead to bleeding between periods. Commonly, these medications include:
- hormonal drugs
- blood thinners
- thyroid medications.
If you are experiencing spotting rights after you have started medication, seek medical attention, as your doctor may switch your medication.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including gonorrhea or chlamydia, can cause spotting between periods or post-intercourse.
Other STI symptoms include:
If you have any STI symptoms, consult our doctor for treatment.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Abnormal or irregular bleeding between periods is a common symptom of pelvic inflammatory disease. A woman can develop PID if the bacteria travel from the vagina to the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries.
Other PID symptoms can include:
- painful sex
- pain while urinating
- pain in the lower or upper abdomen
- foul-smelling vaginal discharge
PID may be severe or life-threatening if the infection spreads to the bloodstream. Therefore, antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat PID.
Vaginal bleeding is usually the first symptom observed for the cervical cancer. If the spotting is continuous with the pain, it’s a good time to check yourself for cervical cancer with the healthcare provider.
What are the treatments for spotting
Spotting is not a medical condition but indicates the underlying condition as a symptom. It can tell that something not unusual or abnormal is happening in a female’s reproductive cycle that caused it. Leading factors can vary from stress and trauma to serious medical conditions like cervical cancer or PCOS.
Treatment options vary according to the underlying cause of the spotting.
If it is due to stress, treatment can include therapy sessions with the psychologist that can reduce the stress or anxiety leading to spotting.
If the cause is serious, including cervical polyps, fibroids, or cancer, it will need a pelvic exam from the healthcare provider before any treatment options. Over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or Advil can effectively reduce pain with other treatment options.
What you can do to prevent or stop spotting
Practically, if you observe spotting, you can not stop it immediately. If the origin cause of the spotting is not related to any serious condition, it will stop on its own.
If it is the indication of any serious medical condition, it will need correct medical diagnosis and treatment options to be followed for the prevention of spotting.
When to consult a healthcare provider
Medical spotting can stop and go away on its own if it does not indicate any serious underlying condition. If it is, it will stay persistent and irregular. Seek medical attention if the spotting is persistent.
Your doctor will question your symptoms and medical history. After that, they might perform a physical exam and pelvic exam accordingly. Some commonly asked questions include:
- When did the bleeding start?
- How long does your period last?
- When does the bleeding occur?
The doctor may order the following tests to investigate the cause :
- Pap smear.
- Thyroid functioning tests.
- Complete blood count (CBC).
- Pregnancy test.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
FAQs About Spotting Before Period Answered by Your Doctors Online Team
Spotting occurs irregularly and can occur in between cycles. Where as light period bleeding usually occurs at the time of the period.
Signs that indicate low progesterone include regular periods, spotting before a period, mood swings, and sleep disturbances.
Waiting at least a week after your missed period is a better time to take a pregnancy test.