While women have a menstrual cycle every month, there are still times when your cycle will do something that confuses you. Vaginal spotting refers to a time when a small amount of blood passes from the vagina. It can be bright red, rusty brown or pink in color. This may happen for just a moment, or it can last for several days.
Women who experience spotting may be confused. It seems like your period is about to start, but nothing happens. There are many reasons why spotting can happen, and it is often just a perfectly normal occurrence. On occasion though, it could be a sign that something more serious is wrong with your body.
What Causes Spotting Instead of a Period?
There are many times when spotting occurs instead of a period that are perfectly normal. Often, spotting will occur for a day or two prior to your menstrual cycle starting. It can also occur due to:
If you have a brown or pinkish discharge a few days before your period, it could actually mean that you are pregnant. Normally, an egg is fertilized by sperm around ovulation. About 5 to 10 days later, the egg will actually implant itself on the wall of the uterus. When this happens, it can cause slight blood loss as the uterine lining is disturbed. At this stage of pregnancy, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the symptoms of early pregnancy and premenstrual symptoms. Many of the symptoms in early pregnancy like breast swelling and bloating are also experienced during PMS. If you have had sex in the last month, take a pregnancy test to see if you could be pregnant.
Normal Menstrual Flow
Spotting could also be caused by your normal menstrual flow. Sometimes, old blood, tissue, nutrients or the edometrial lining remain from before. These layers typically leave during a menstrual cycle. You may see a brown discharge leave your body before menstruation. This brown color is caused by the blood and tissue being in your body for longer before they are released. On occasion, the old endometrial lining leaves the uterus during the following period, so it ends up looking brown in color. If this is the reason why you are spotting, then you have nothing to worry about.
Spotting in Between Periods
Spotting can occur a day or two after ovulation. While many women never experience this, some women experience spotting every time that they ovulate. If you do not want to become pregnant, make sure that you do not confuse ovulation spotting with your normal menstrual cycle.
These devices are inserted into your uterus and can cause spotting occasionally.
Uterine Polyps and Fibroids
These growths are non-cancerous and more common in women who have given birth. They can cause spotting.
Hormonal birth control methods and implants can end up causing spotting instead of a period when you just start or stop using it.
Uterine, cervical, vaginal or ovarian cancer can cause spotting.
Progesterone and estrogen are normally responsible for regulating your monthly cycle. If these hormones are out of balance, you may have spotting instead of your period. Hormonal imbalances can happen due to birth control pills, dysfunctional ovaries, thyroid issues and severe stress.
Most women will experience an infection in their reproductive organs at some point in their life. While sexually transmitted infections are common, it could also be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease or another type of infection. You can also end up with an infections due to sexual intercourse or increased douching. When you have an infection in your reproductive organs, it can cause spotting between or instead of your periods.
During menopause, your hormones are in a constant state of flux. This can end up causing instead of a period. If you are going through menopause, talk to your doctor about options for regulating your hormones and any of the symptoms that you might be experiencing.
While these causes are less common, they can happen. Some unusual causes of spotting instead of a period include extreme stress, a foreign object in the vagina or diabetes.
What Can I Do About Spotting?
For the most part, spotting instead of your period or between periods is nothing to worry about. Spotting often happens after sex or around ovulation. It is also a normal occurrence for a day or two before and after your normal menstrual period. Pay attention to when it starts and observe if other symptoms occur. As long as there are no other symptoms, you most likely do not have anything actually wrong with you.
There are cases when you should call the doctor when you experience spotting. As a rule, you should call the doctor if you experience:
– Spotting that frequently occurs after sexual intercourse
– Red or brown spotting that lasts for more than two weeks in a row
– Spotting that occurs with vaginal redness, cramping or itchiness
– Spotting that happens with an odd-smelling discharge
If you experience these symptoms, it could be a sign that you have an ongoing infection or something more serious could be at fault.
Depending on your unique circumstances, you may not be able to prevent spotting from happening—it all depends on why spotting is actually occurring. You may be able to prevent some spotting by having a healthy lifestyle and a healthy weight. Being overweight can cause abnormal periods, and moderate exercise can encourage stable periods and lower stress. In addition, birth control pills can also be used to balance out your hormones.