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What Are Spotting And When Can They Occur?

The term “spotting” usually refers to slight bleeding that occurs between periods. You may have spotted one week before the period, after sex, or just before menstruation. But how can you really differentiate brown spotting before the period from menstrual bleeding itself? What are the most common causes of spotting? Let’s go into more detail.


What is spotting?

If you’re like most women, you can not wait for your period to finally end, so you can do without panty liners for another month, put on your normal underwear, and get back to the usual routine. But has this ever happened to you? Just when you think that you have it behind you, you see a few bloodstains – of course in your favorite underpants.

Spotting – mild vaginal bleeding between periods – occurs in many women and is usually not a cause for concern. But it does not hurt to know why they occur and when you need to worry. Most cases are harmless and no medical intervention is needed, but in some cases, an expert may need to be consulted and possibly undergo treatment.

Join Flo and let us explain the most common causes of spotting between periods.

Spotting bleeding vs. Differences in the period

Your vaginal discharge looks a bit like a spotting, but according to the predictions, today should be the first day of your menstruation. Are you sure that instead of your period you have spotting and not your actual period?

Menstruation is a natural process of bleeding. Your uterine lining will be repelled, so it may be hard to distinguish spotting before the period of menstrual flow. 

Your menstrual blood can range in color from red to dark brown. At the end of your period, it can look almost black like ink. If the bleeding is severe and scarlet (ie light red with a hint of orange), you should go to the doctor.

However, there are some differences between period bleeding and spotting. Spotting is a kind of mild hemorrhage – no lasting (1-2 days) and strong flow like menstruation. They should not be accompanied by strong cramps or blood clots. The color is light brown or pink.

Signs of spots can occur at any time while your period has its own cycle. Spotting may occur in the middle of your cycle because it’s mainly related to ovulation, but sometimes it’s a sign of other things happening in your body. Even if the spotting occurs after your period, this is normal.

Are spotting normal before the period?


Although spotting is a common symptom, many women may be concerned. Especially if you are used to having a regular period, it can be a mild shock and may even upset you when you first spot spotting in your underwear. 

But before you worry, remember that spotting is benign in most cases and does not require further investigation or treatment. And even if you have to go to the doctor in your case, it is better for you to get help from an expert as soon as possible, so that you have the best options available.

Spotting a week before the period: should you be worried?

So it’s still a week to your period and you’ve discovered mild spotting. The most important thing first: do not panic! Your spotting is probably not something you need to worry about, so stay calm and put the whole thing into perspective.

First, take a look at our list of the most common causes of spots – so you get a better idea of ​​what the most likely causes are. Then you should make a timely appointment with your gynecologist. The sooner you get medical advice, the sooner you can calm down and rethink your options.

If you are still worried about your spotting, here is a list of the symptoms you should look out for:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • fever
  • Worsening or more frequent onset of symptoms
  • Spotting or another vaginal bleeding after menopause

If you have any of the above symptoms, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Brown spotting before the period: what does that mean?

You now know that spotting is slight vaginal bleeding that occurs between periods. You also know that they can look different with different women or even be different sometimes with the same woman. The color of the blood can vary greatly: fresh blood is light red, but older blood can be brown or even black.

No matter what the color looks like, look at Flo’s guides to the common causes of spotting during the periods. This will give you a feeling for the possible diagnoses and can estimate how urgent you need to go to the doctor.

Possible causes of spotting before periods

There are several causes of spots – these are among the most common:

  • Hormonal contraceptives. If you use a hormonal contraceptive (whether it’s a pill, patch, injection or something else), you may experience spotting during the first three months of use. Health experts call this ‘breakthrough bleeding’ and it could be related to changes in the lining of the uterus caused by the hormones in your pills.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia. STIs are becoming more common in many parts of the world and can spread rapidly as they often cause no symptoms. In addition to spotting, STIs can cause abnormal vaginal discharge, abdominal pain with fever, and pain when urinating or having sex. If for some reason, you believe that you have an STI, you must have your health and that of your partner tested immediately.
  • Uterine fibroids or polyps. These are benign (non-carcinogenic) tumors that grow in the mucosa or muscle of the uterus. Polyps cause strong periods, irregular periods of varying degrees of progression and severity, and make them difficult to conceive. Fibroids are associated with pain, constipation, and problems with urination.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). The ovaries of women who have this disease do not release their eggs in a normal manner as they are surrounded by fluid-filled sacs. At PCOS, the value of the male hormones (androgens) in your body increases and that’s why you have spots. PCOS increases the likelihood of high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Cancer in the reproduction system. This includes, among other things, uterine cancer. These cancers are more common in women after menopause, but may also affect younger women. If you are over 40 and you have noticed spotting between your periods, you should go to the doctor so he can examine you accordingly.
  • Perimenopause. As you approach the menopause, the hormone levels in your body change, and as a result, the lining of your uterus thickens. This can make it harder to predict the timing of the period. It can also lead to spotting and other symptoms.

Keep in mind that most women who have spotting do not have to worry and do not need medical treatment. However, sporadic bleeding occurs in a few cases due to a more serious underlying disease, so investigations are needed.

If you are worried about the above-mentioned conditions or are worried about spotting for other reasons, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor.

Spotting while taking the pill: should you worry about it?

Breakthrough bleeding – spotting between periods – is common during pill intake.

The causes of spotting while taking the pill vary from woman to woman and also depend on what type of pill you take.

Once you start taking the pill, you may bleed between periods due to the hormone disruption your body needs to get used to. This should stop after a few months and is not dangerous.

Purging one or two pills can also cause spotting. This is normal and you do not have to worry. Please keep in mind that an irregular intake of oral contraceptives can lead to an unwanted pregnancy.

Spotting during ovulation

Although rare, some women discover fluid from the cervix that has blood or pink in it during ovulation. This is generally considered normal.

Hormonal changes during this time are a possible explanation for such an outflow. Before ovulation, the level of estrogen increases, which can lead to spots. Use Flo to record the changes in your vaginal discharge and get helpful advice and tips.

Spotting after sex: what does that mean?

Some women experience spotting or sexual intercourse bleeding known as postcoital bleeding.

Causes of bleeding after sex are:

  • Friction and damage to the vaginal mucosa and cervix during intercourse due to dryness and inadequate hydration
  • Inflammation in the vagina and cervix
  • sexually transmitted diseases
  • endometriosis
  • Taking oral contraceptives etc.

Normally, this type of discharge does not occur repeatedly, is not a health risk and is not a cause for concern.

However, if the bleeding occurs regularly and/or is accompanied by pain after having sex, you should contact a gynecologist to find the cause.

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