What is spotting?
Table of Contents
Spotting refers to light vaginal bleeding that occurs outside of regular menstrual periods. Generally, spotting involves a small blood amount. You may see it on wiping cloth or toilet paper after use of the restroom or in the panty. It commonly needs a panty liner if you want protection and not a tampon or pad.
Spotting or bleeding any time other than when you get a period is considered intermenstrual bleeding or abnormal vaginal bleeding. Spotting happens because of different reasons between periods. Sometimes, it can be a symptom of a serious problem, but there is no need to worry.
A different range of factors can lead to spots, and every female’s pattern may be different.
Some features of spotting include:
The female may spot for one day, start again, and stop bleeding. Some females experience spotting intermittently during the month.
Linked With Expected Menstrual Cycle Events
Unexplained spotting is often not regular. But spots can also happen with ovulation. Some females feel a day or two of light spotting each month.
May Linked with Injuries or Other Symptoms:
It has abdominal pain.
Usually, A Different Color from A Woman’s Regular Menstrual Period
Some females get brown blood and others get lighter spotting, odd smells, and different texture.
It May Linked to Hormonal Birth Control Prescription
Beginning on new hormonal birth control may change the amount and bleeding timing.
Causes Of Spotting Before Periods?
There are many reasons you might get spotting before your period. Many of these causes can work effectively to treat or manage it.
Hormonal birth control tablets, injections, patches, implant, and rings can all causes spotting between periods.
Spotting can occur spontaneously or when you:
first, begin using a hormone-based birth control method
Avoid doses or do not consume birth control pills in a right way
Change the dose type of birth control
Use birth control for more time
Sometimes, birth control is utilized to treat abnormal bleeding in your periods. Talk to your physician if your symptoms do not worsen or improve.
Around 3% of women get spotting linked with ovulation. Ovulation spotting comes as light bleeding that happens around the time in your menstrual cycle when your ovary releases an egg. For several women, this can be like between 11 days to 21 days after the first day of the last period.
Ovulation spotting may be red or light pink and will remain for around 1-2 days in the middle of the cycle.
Other signs of ovulation may include:
- more cervical mucus
- cervical mucus that gets the consistency and looks like egg whites
- a position change or cervix firmness
- lower basal body temperature before ovulation followed by a sharp rise after ovulation
- high sex drive
- dull ache or pain one side of the abdomen
- breast tenderness
- an intensified smell sense, vision, or taste
- Paying close attention to these symptoms may increase the narrowing of the window to conceive.
Implantation spotting may happen when a fertilized egg attaches toward the inner lining of the uterus. But all do not experience implantation bleeding when they get pregnant.
If it does not happen, implantation spotting occurs some days before your next period should happen.
Implantation bleeding is commonly light pink to dark brown, lighter in flow than a typical period, and does not last as long as a typical period.
You may also get after implantation:
- mood swings
- breast tenderness
- light cramping
- pain in your lower back
Implantation bleeding is not something to worry about and does not cause any harm to an unborn baby. However, if you experience heavy bleeding and know that you are pregnant, you should get medical help.
Spotting throughout pregnancy is not unusual. Around 15-25% of females will get spotting during their first trimester. The bleeding is frequently light, and the color may be red, pink, or brown. Usually, spotting is not a cause for anxiety, but you should let your physician know if you are seeing symptoms. If you get pelvic pain or heavy bleeding, contact your health care provider right away. It could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.
As you reach menopause, you may get months where you do not ovulate. This transitional time is named perimenopause.
Perimenopause can begin 8-10 years before menopause when the ovaries gradually create low estrogen. It usually starts in a female’s 40s, but it may begin in the 30s also.
Perimenopause remains till menopause, the point when the ovaries stop producing eggs. In the last 1-2 years of perimenopause, the reduction in estrogen stimulates.
At this stage, a different female may have different symptoms. Females are still getting menstrual cycles during this time and can get pregnant.
During perimenopause, your periods get more irregular and some spotting. You might also avoid your periods altogether or get menstrual bleeding that is lighter or more than usual.
Trauma toward the cervix or vagina can sometimes lead to irregular spotting. It can be because of
If you are experienced sexual assault or were forced into sexual activity, you should get care from a trained healthcare provider.
Organizations like the Rape-Abuse-&-Incest-National Network-(RAINN) get support for survivors of sexual assault or rape.
Cervical polyps or Uterine
Polyps are small abnormal problems get that can happen in different places, including the uterus and cervix. Most polyps are noncancerous or benign.
Cervical polyps commonly do not have any symptoms but may cause:
light bleeding between periods
light bleeding after sex
Your doctor can easily notice cervical polyps during a routine pelvic exam.
Generally, no treatment is required unless they are leading to bothersome symptoms. If they do need to be removed, removal is commonly easy and does not have pain.
Uterine polyps can only be noticed on an imaging test such as ultrasound.
They are most often good, but a small percentage can increase in cancer. These polyps most commonly happen in people who complete menopause.
Symptoms may include:
- abnormal menstrual bleeding
- bleeding after reaching menopause
- heavy periods
Some people may only get light spotting, while others get no symptoms at all.
Sexually Transmitted Infection
Sexually-transmitted-infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia can lead to spotting after sex or between periods.
Other symptoms of STIs include:
Burning or painful urination
yellow, green, or white discharge from the vagina
itching of the anus or vagina
Talk to your doctor if you see an STI. Many STIs can be treated with lower complications when caught early.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Abnormal bleeding during periods is a general symptom of Pelvic-inflammatory-disease.
You can increase PID if bacteria spread from the vagina to your uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes.
Other symptoms include:
- pain in the upper or lower abdomen
- extreme sex or urination
- raised or foul-smelling vaginal secretion
If you feel any symptoms of PID or an infection, check with your doctor. Different infections can be successfully treated with the correct therapies.
Uterine fibroids are cells growth on the uterus. You may have symptoms with spotting like pelvic pain, heavy periods, painful intercourse, lower back pain, and urinary problem. Some females with uterine fibroids do not get any symptoms. Fibroids are also commonly manageable and reduce with own time.
Fibroid growth is linked to the following:
- Genetic changes
- Growth hormones
- Displaced cells in the body being before birth
- The number of micronutrients — nutrients that the body requires only tiny amounts of — in your
- Extreme stressors
It is thought that fibroids form with a combination of different factors.
What Are the Signs of Uterine Fibroids?
Most females with uterine fibroids occur without symptoms. However, fibroids can lead to different symptoms depending on their size, location in the uterus, and how near they are to other organs in the pelvic part.
Abnormal bleeding is the common symptom of a uterine fibroid. If the tumor is placed within the uterine cavity or closes the uterine lining, it may lead to extra menstrual bleeding. The uterine fibroid may also create bleeding between periods.
Uterine fibroid symptoms can include:
Prolonged or heavy menstrual periods
Abnormal bleeding within menstrual periods
Pain during sex
Lower back pain
Difficulties during pregnancy and labor, including a 6-time higher risk of cesarean section
Reproductive problems, like infertility (very rare)
A firm mass, often placed near the center of the pelvis
A sense of heaviness in the pelvic area (lower abdomen)
Lower abdomen Enlargement
Endometriosis occurs when an endometrium-like cell grows out of the uterus in areas like the abdomen, ovaries, and bowel. This condition can lead to spotting or bleeding between periods, as well as other symptoms.
Around 1 out of every 10 females in the USA get endometriosis, but several cases go without a diagnosis.
Other symptoms and signs of endometriosis include:
pelvic pain and cramping
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Irregular bleeding in between periods may be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome. This condition occurs when a female’s ovaries or adrenal glands produce more male hormones.
Some female with PCOS does not get their periods at all or get very few periods.
Other signs of PCOS include:
- abnormal menstrual periods
- weight gain
- pelvic pain
- unnecessary hair growth
Stress is a body response to outer changes. When you get stressed in life, such as family, work, or some internal cause, you will get physical, emotional, and mental responses.
Stress harms your body in different ways. It helps your body’s fight or flight response. While this ability is created to keep you safe in an urgent situation, feeling these again and again can cause a significant problem. Living under more stress can lead to several health problems, like:
- Tense muscles
- Stomach problems
- Low sex drive
- Vulnerable immune system
- Menstrual spasms
Stress affects all the health conditions of the body, including fluctuations in the menstrual cycle. Some females may get vaginal spotting because of high emotional or physical stress.
Certain medicines like thyroid medications, hormonal drugs, and blood thinners can lead to vaginal bleeding between periods. Your doctor may be able to recommend alternative medications.
An underactive thyroid can lead to spotting after your period ends. Other signs of an underactive thyroid include:
- weight gain
- dry skin
- sensitivity to cold
- thinning hair
- puffy face
- muscle weakness or aches
- high cholesterol levels
- slowed heart rate
Some medical issues like liver disease, diabetes, bleeding disorders, kidneys disease may cause spotting between periods. Talk to your doctor if you get a problem and spotting.
Some cancers can cause spotting, abnormal bleeding, or different types of vaginal discharge. These may include:
- cervical cancer
- ovarian cancer
- vaginal cancer
- uterine or endometrial cancer
Most of the time, spotting is not a symptom of cancer. But you should check with your physician, especially if you are already having menopause.
Is It Spotting or Your Period?
Spotting is different than period bleeding. Spotting occurs in the following ways:
- Light blood flow
- Blood color look like pink, red, or brown
- Blood does not flow more than 1-2 days
- Menstrual Period
- Period blood flow is heavier and needs tampon or pad
- Remain for 4-7 days
- Blood loss occurs around 30-80 mL
- Period blood flow occurs in 21 to 35 days
Should I take a pregnancy test?
If you are of reproductive age, you may assume pregnancy might be the reason for spotting, that time you can take a home Pregnancy test. A pregnancy test measures the HCG amount in urine.
This hormone rapidly rises when you’re pregnant. If the test comes positive, make an appointment with OB-Gyn to confirm your results. You should also check your doctor if your period is more than a week late and get a negative test. Your doctor will test everything and determine the missed period.
Risk Factors for Spotting
Spotting is more likely to happen in some women who:
you are reaching menopause
you are pregnant
taking birth control, including IUD in place of previous birth control method
Getting infections while doing sex on organs includes pelvic inflammatory disease and STDs.
Have fibroids tumors on the uterus and cervical polyps
Get polycystic ovary syndrome
Provide your full medical history after visiting your doctor for a diagnosis or spotting or bleeding between periods. If you manage a menstrual cycle calendar, it will help.
Your provider may ask:
- How Long Have You Got Bleeding Between Periods?
- Does it occur every month or is this occurring the first time?
- At what point in your menstrual cycle did the bleeding start, and how long did it remain?
- Do you get menstrual cramps while bleeding between periods happens?
- Is the bleeding get worse after doing more physical activity?
When To See A Doctor
You should check with your doctor if you get unexplained spotting between periods. Although it may not be a cause of concern as it goes on its own.
Try to record exactly when you are getting spotting and other symptoms so that you can discuss them with your physician.
You should take the doctor advice if you are getting spots with the following symptoms:
- abdominal pain
- heavy bleeding
- easy bruising
- pelvic pain
It is also necessary to make an appointment with your physician if you have already gone through menopause and get spotting. Your doctor does a pelvic exam, recommend a blood test, and check for other symptoms.
If you are pregnant or had an abortion or miscarriage, it is essential to tell your doctor. The same applies if you experienced any injury or had any intrauterine surgical or medical procedure. Your physician asks about your age, first periods, whether you are on birth control or sexually active. Remember to inform your health care provider about any medication you are taking.
You might get a pelvic exam, including a Pap smear if you have not had one recently. Additional tests like imaging tests and blood tests might be required as well.
The treatment of spotting and bleeding depends on the diagnosis and cause of uterine or vaginal bleeding.
What Are The Possible Complications Of Spotting?
Spotting can be a sign of a serious health problem. Ignorance to seek medical treatment can lead to serious complexities and long-term damage. Once the hidden cause is diagnosed, you need to keep up with the treatment plan that you and your doctor create especially, for you to lower the risk of potential complications, including:
bad effects of treatment
low red blood cell count
Finding difficulty to participate in normal activities
Does Spotting Happen Because of Miscarriage?
Many women fear that spotting in early pregnancy is a symptom of miscarriage, but this is not always the case. Approximately half of the females who get spotting in early pregnancy do miscarry. It means that half of the females who spot in early pregnancy do not have a miscarriage. Spotting later in pregnancy is usually not dangerous, but there are times when it is severe.
Between 10-30% of females who deliver full-term, normal babies report that they had spotting at some limit throughout pregnancy.
Anyone who gets spotting during their 2nd and 3rd trimester should talk to their doctor.
Spotting in the Early Years
Spotting between periods can be different in the early years of the reproductive cycle.
When you first get your period, it may be unusual for months or even years. It is because your brain, uterus, and brain are still going on getting in sync hormonally.
Unless your bleeding is more prolonged or heavy, it is commonly not a problem, according to Dr. Ford. Once you get sexually active, spotting after intercourse increase a red flag. It is generally true if you are doing unprotected sex or have begun sex with some partner.
Bleeding can indicate a sexually transmitted infection, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, that should be managed promptly. Often the cervix can be different or just bleed easily from the infection.
Another condition that can cause bleeding after sex is cervical entropion, in which the delicate glandular cells bordering the cervical opening develops over the surface of the uterus.
More rarely, after-sex spotting can be a symptom of cervical cancer.
Your doctor can take a Pap smear, a unit of cervix cells from the uterus starting at the vagina top to examine for STIs and strange cancerous cells or precancerous.
Mid-cycle bleeding could also mean that you are pregnant and could have a miscarriage, although spotting during pregnancy does not always mean the pregnancy will be lost. Ectopic pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg matures outer of the uterus in fallopian tubes, can also begin to bleeding.
Bleeding In Between Periods in the Middle Years
After reaching your 30s, the chance that spotting could show endometrial cancer, which is a type of uterus cancer. Obesity also promotes your risk of endometrial cancer, even if you are a young female. We are seeing more and more endometrial pathology like that due to the obesity epidemic.
We have to concern about that in less obese females, even if they are younger. Spotting in between periods becomes more worrisome after the age of 35 because it could be an early symptom of endometrial cancer.
Fibroids, hormonal changes, and polyps are very common than endometrial cancer. It is one of those things, but unless you get it evaluated, you do not know if you are one of 1000 people who experience cancer. Fibroids start to grow, which can form in the uterus, which is a possible cause of irregular bleeding if they grow into the uterine lining. Polyps, another type of benign growth, can also develop in the uterus or over the cervix and lead to bleeding. Both polyps and fibroids can be removed by surgery.
Endometrial hyperplasia, in which the uterus lining grows out of the uterus thicker and has abnormal bleeding. While this condition is harmless, it can be the root of cancer in some cases.
If your physician suspects that you may get endometrial cancer, the doctor will take some tissue samples from the endometrium to analyze cells under a microscope. Other tests, like an ultrasound, may be utilized to determine if bleeding is lined with fibroids or polyps.
Which is the common cause of bleeding between periods?
Hormonal changes and imbalance are the most common cause of bleeding between periods.
Who is most likely to get bleeding on hormonal contraceptives?
Females who skip birth control pills or do smoking are more likely to get bleeding than non-smokers.
What to do if bleeding occurs with other symptoms?
If you get dizziness, fever, pain, bruising, and bleeding, visit your doctor.
Spotting happens because of several reasons. Some of them need quick medical treatment, while others do not harm. Getting bleeding other times than the period is considered abnormal.