What Is The Difference Between Your Period Spotting And Bleeding
The word bleeding refers to both spotting and your period. Spotting tends to be lightermore spotty, while your period is heavier. Technically, any time you bleed and it is not attributable to your period, it falls under the definition of spotting.
The bleeding that takes place during your period happens approximately every 28 days . You can generally tell that bleeding is menstrual based on the following criteria:
- Regular and predictable: Some women can set their calendar to their cycle, but even if yours fluctuates here and there, there is likely some sort of visible pattern and you know approximately when to expect your period and how long it will last.
- Other symptoms: Often, your period is preceded or accompanied by a range of different symptoms such as headaches, breast tenderness, and cramping.
- The color of the blood: Menstrual blood is usually bright red and can contain clots.
This is in contrast to spotting, which frequently has the following characteristics:
- Irregular and unpredictable: While some women experience spotting on a regular basis or at the same time each month, it can also be highly unpredictable.
- Injuries or other symptoms: An injury or trauma to the vagina or cervix can cause spotting.
- The color of the blood: You may see brown spotting or blood that is a different color, texture or intensity from your usual menstrual bleeding.
You Have Done Something New With Contraceptives
Millions of women in the US use some form of birth control. Spotting is a common and normal side effect if you are starting, stopping, or switching birth control medications. Estrogen helps keep the lining of the uterus in place. Changing or messing with the estrogen levels in your body as a result of varying your birth control use could lead to spotting in between periods. This type of spotting does not last for longer than 1-3 months as your body tries to adapt to the new estrogen levels.
Spotting is usually a side effect of using hormonal contraceptives which may include a combination of oral contraceptive pill, injections of long-acting artificial progesterone, a rod containing slow-release progesterone usually inserted in the upper arm, or intrauterine system devices that releases progesterone implanted into the womb. Treatments that involve progesterone alone frequently result in spotting. Spotting here usually occurs as a result of the drop in hormone levels.
When you start taking hormonal contraceptives, it is common to experience spotting around two weeks after your last period. Your periods will normally get back to the standard routine within six months. The spotting caused by hormonal contraception should usually stop after a month or two of starting but may reappear when ceasing it.
If you use hormonal contraceptives like a depot injection or rod, you may experience spotting between your first two or three periods after the installation.
What To Do If You Are Not Sure If You Are Spotting Or Having Your Period
Talk to your doctor or other health care professional if you are not sure if it is your period, or if you are spotting.
Remember, spotting is light bleeding that does not get heavier like a typical menstrual period. The normal menstrual period usually is associated with some other symptoms like breast tenderness or cramps as described previously, and often is accompanied by heavy flow. During the first day of your period bleeding may be light, but it typically becomes heavier over the next few days.
Light bleeding that does not worsen and is not associated with the symptoms of a your period is likely to be spotting.
You should always contact your doctor or other health care professional if you experience any vaginal bleeding, spotting if you are pregnant or if you have reached menopause, or any time you have unusual bleeding that concerns you.
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How Is It Different From A Period
Spotting is lighter than a period. Sometimes you wont even see it in your pants, youll just notice it on your loo roll when you wipe after going to the bathroom. In fact in many cases it wont be worth using a tampon because there wont be enough blood. A liner will do the trick here. You may also notice the blood that appears when you are spotting is more pink in colour, as opposed to darker red.
You are likely to know the difference, as your period tends to bring along PMS symptoms that youll recognise, such as bloating, cramping, sore breasts, tiredness, mood swings and so on – spotting doesnt produce these symptoms. Your period will also likely follow a regular schedule so you can predict it, whereas spotting is less predictable as it turns up randomly in between periods.
When Do I Need Medical Attention For Spotting Between Periods
Most times, spotting between periods isnt a cause for an emergency visit. But since intermenstrual bleeding is never normal, you should talk to Dr. Morales about any spotting at your regular visit. If you have heavy or persistent bleeding or spotting between periods, its important to call for medical advice sooner.
Ready to talk to us about spotting between periods? Our compassionate team at Kelly Morales OB/GYB can help. Contact our San Antonio office by calling 210-570-7277 to schedule an appointment.
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What Causes Spotting Before Your Period
Almost all women experience spotting between periods from time to time. Often, it is normal and no reason for concern but in some cases, it can be an indicator of another problem. In this article, well talk about what causes spotting before your period or in between periods and when you should seek help. Please note that this article will focus only on spotting experienced by non-pregnant, reproductive-age women.
You Are Experiencing Ovulation Spotting
Ovulation spotting is very regular for certain women and is nothing to be worried about. Women can notice spotting a day or two into ovulating. When you ovulate, it is common to experience light spotting, usually pale pink in color. There are several potential reasons for ovulation spotting. For example, it can be caused by the surfacing of ovarian follicles. When a follicle matures and bursts, it can cause mild pain and some light bleeding. An increase in your estrogen levels during ovulation can result in light spotting or bleeding. It is also important to note that ovulation time is when you are most fertile. Be sure not to mistake this type of spotting with menstrual spotting!
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Spotting On The Birth Control Pill: Should You Be Worried
Having breakthrough bleeding is quite common if youre taking birth control pills.
The reasons for spotting while on birth control vary from person to person and also depend on the type of pills you use.
If you have just started taking the pill, you may bleed between periods as your body adjusts to the changing hormone levels. Spotting between periods should stop after a few months and is not dangerous.
Skipping a pill or two can also lead to spotting. This is normal and nothing to worry about. Remember that its important to take oral contraceptives consistently and correctly in order for them to be effective at preventing pregnancy.
You Have A Decline In Estrogen
One out of ten women experience light spotting during ovulation in their menstrual cycle because of a brief that happens when an egg is released from an ovary. This type of spotting usually occurs about ten to fourteen days before your next period. Spotting can also occur due to reduction of the level of estrogen which usually precedes ovulation. This type of spotting occurs due to alteration of the amount of estrogen that is stimulating the endometrium. The decline in estrogen causes women to experience brown vaginal discharge, or spotting. They can also experience cramping and slight pain.
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Diagnosis Of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
To discover why you are spotting, your medical personnel may conduct a number of tests which includes the following:
- General examination
- Examination of your medical history
- Examination of your menstrual history
- Physical examination
- Carrying out Pap test and blood tests
- Vaginal ultrasound
- Endometrial biopsy.
Reasons Why You Might Be Spotting
Spotting is normal and in most cases nothing to worry about. If you are spotting it might be a result of any of the reasons below:
1. Hormonal contraceptives
It’s common for women who have just started using hormonal contraceptives such as the combined pill, an implant, or a patch to experience bleeding in between periods in the first few months.
Important: If the bleeding lasts more than a few months, you should speak to your doctor about it. They might consider switching out the hormonal contraceptive for a non-hormonal one like the copper IUD.
You may also experience spotting if you skip a day or two of the pill because your hormone levels will drop, which may trigger spotting.
In the first few weeks of pregnancy, some women might experience what’s called implantation bleeding.
Implantation bleeding happens when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of your uterus. This can cause small blood vessels in your uterus to erupt, leading to spotting. Implantation bleeding normally occurs within five to ten days after conception. However, if you are bleeding heavily during pregnancy this might be a sign of a complication like ectopic pregnancy and you should contact your doctor.
3. Vaginal tears
If your vagina isn’t properly lubricated before inserting or taking out a tampon or before engaging in penetrative sex, it can cause small vaginal tears which can make you spot. If you have a vaginal tear, you might also experience some pain.
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Starting A New Hormonal Contraception
Spotting isnt uncommon when you start a new hormonal contraception, says Dr McClymont. Usually, this spotting stops spontaneously after a few weeks or months. Its also common to experience spotting if you miss a dose of the contraceptive pill.
However, if youre experiencing new spotting thats developed after youve been using a contraceptive for a few months, when you havent previously had spotting, and when you havent missed any doses, you should speak to a doctor, adds Dr McClymont.
Vaginal Dryness Or Infection
Vaginal dryness can sometimes cause spotting because the vaginal tissue is more delicate when dry. This can occur for several reasons including:
Menopause – During menopause estrogen levels drop and can result in vaginal dryness.
Medications: Vaginal dryness can be caused by medications. Some anti-depressants, allergy medications, and breast cancer treatments can have the side effect of vaginal dryness.
Breastfeeding: While nursing it can be normal for hormone levels to lower. This can cause a temporary vaginal dryness.
Vaginal infection can also cause bleeding between periods. This kind of infection can be caused by bacteria or yeast. There are typically other symptoms such as odor or vaginal discomfort.
Pelvic infections of the cervix, uterus or fallopian tubes can sometimes cause bleeding between periods. This is often accompanied by pelvic pain and bad-smelling vaginal discharge.
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How K Health Can Help
Spotting can be concerning when youre not sure whats causing it. Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a doctor in minutes. K Healths AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
Spotting A Week Before Your Period: Should You Be Worried
If its a week before your period and youve just noticed a little bit of blood, dont panic!
Later on, well go over some of the most common causes of spotting. But first, heres a quick list of symptoms to watch out for. If youre experiencing spotting along with any of these, make sure to make an appointment with your health care provider as soon as possible.
- Pain in your lower abdomen
- Worsening or more frequent symptoms
- Spotting or any other vaginal bleeding after menopause
If you have any of these symptoms, then you should seek professional advice as soon as possible. Now lets get into some of the reasons why you might be experiencing spotting.
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Youre About To Begin Or End Menstruation
Periods often have a few days of light bleeding and a few days of heavier bleeding. Many people bleed lightly at the beginning and end of their period. This will look about the same as your normal period blood. Period blood often changes in color, consistency, and flow from one day to the next.
You may have spotting for a few days leading up to your period while your uterus prepares to shed its lining. After your period, the bleeding may taper off slowly. You may only notice a little blood on the toilet paper you use to wipe, or you may see stains accumulate on your underwear throughout the day. This is all considered normal.
Other signs that youre beginning or ending your period include:
- sore or swollen breasts
Should I Take A Pregnancy Test
If youre of reproductive age, and you think pregnancy might be the reason youre spotting, you can take an at-home test. Pregnancy tests measure the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin in your urine. This hormone rises rapidly when youre pregnant.
If your test comes back positive, make an appointment with your OB-GYN to confirm the results. You should also see your doctor if your period is over a week late and you have a negative pregnancy test.
Your doctor can run tests to determine if an underlying condition is responsible for your missed period.
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Spotting Vs Your Period: Key Takeaways
Your menstrual cycle doesnt end when your period does. Your reproductive system stays in flux and its important to keep track of any unexpected changes in your cycle.
If youre unsure how to approach this topic with your primary care physician or OB/GYN, here are some questions to ask yourself: 2
- Are you pregnant?
- How long has the spotting persisted?
- Are there any other associated symptoms?
- Are you taking any medications?
- Have you missed your period or had a heavier or irregular period?
Spotting can be bothersome, but understanding and taking note of changes in your reproductive health can help you spot potential problems earlierand, at the very least, might save you from another pair of stained underwear.
This article is informational only and is not offered as medical advice, nor does it substitute for a consultation with your physician. If you have any gynecological/medical concerns or conditions, please consult your physician.