It’s okay to get worried if you’re spotting just before your period begins. However, you shouldn’t.
Most women experience the common white discharge. This occurs naturally as your body cleans your vagina while also preventing infection.
Brown spotting when you wipe or on your panties simply indicates your normal discharge is mixed with deoxygenated blood. This could happen for many reasons, and in most cases, not a serious health concern.
Common reasons why you could spot are pregnancy, stress, ovulation or a rough vaginal sexual intercourse before your period.
Nevertheless, spotting could mean a serious health problem. Vaginal infections, uterine fibroid, effects of birth control pills and rarely cancer can cause women to spot between their periods.
This guide will explain the possible causes of spotting before next period and when you should worry.
What causes spotting before period?
1. Implantation bleeding (Pregnancy)
Implantation is a common reason why women bleed before period.
What is implantation?
This is the process where the zygote (which is the product when the sperm fertilizes the egg) burrows into the endometrium covering your womb. This can cause the endometrium to bleed slightly.
This bleeding is called implantation bleeding or spotting. Though not seen by all women during early pregnancy, it is a common cause of spotting before period.
When does implantation bleeding occur?
Implantation occurs after the fertilized egg is transported back to the endometrium. This usually occurs about ten days after ovulation or about five days before your next period.
If you notice your period a week early and shorter than usual, it could be due to implantation.
What should I do if I have this kind of bleeding?
It means you’re likely pregnant. Though there are many other causes of bleeding before period, implantation is one of the commonest causes.
What is implantation bleeding color?
Implantation bleeding is usually pinkish or brown discharge before your period. The blood from implantation mixes with your discharge forming a brown discharge.
How long does implantation bleeding last?
Implantation bleeding is usually lighter than your period and may be confused as period during pregnancy. It does not last more than 2 – 3 days. Also, you may feel implantation cramping which is less severe than your period cramps.
Should I get a pregnancy test to confirm if I’m pregnant?
Not yet. Pregnancy test done on the time of bleeding will not be accurate. This is because your HCG level is very low at during implantation. After implantation occurs, HCG level continues to rise and can be detected after a few days or a week. If you already missed your period with a negative pregnancy test, then you should wait a while and try again.
Stress may cause you to bleed before your menstruation.
How does stress cause spotting?
Cortisol, a steroid hormone and produced by the adrenal gland, directly affect your period hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are directly involved with the maturation of your endometrium. This endometrium is shed during period.
During a physical or psychological stress, cortisol levels increased. Increased level of cortisol results to decreased level of both progesterone and estrogen resulting in spotting.
Other conditions that may affect your cortisol level are
- Acute illnesses
- Sleep deprivation
What can I do to prevent this?
Reduce your stress level. Do you have a very stressful work days? Are your studies affecting how many hours of sleep you get? Creating time for yourself with some regular exercise will improve your health.
3. Delayed ovulation
Ovulation usually occurs in the middle of menstrual cycle — 2 weeks from next period. However, certain conditions may delay ovulation until a further date.
Delayed ovulation can occur due to drugs, stress or long time medical problems like diabetes or hypertension.
How does ovulation cause bleeding?
Ovulation is the rupture and release of an egg into the uterus for fertilization. This rupture of the most mature ovarian follicle causes women to have minor bleeding. If your ovulation is shifted or delayed, it’s possible you can bleed before your expected period.
How can I know it’s due to ovulation bleeding?
Bleeding due to ovulation usually occurs during or after ovulation.
If you have monitored your vaginal discharge, you will notice it becomes stretchy and hardly breaks when stretched between fingers.
Other ovulation signs and symptoms are
- Breast pain and swelling
- Ovulation cramps
- Increased sexual desire
- Abdominal bloating
If your spotting before period is due to delayed ovulation, It usually clears in few days.
4. Vaginal infections
Do you feel smell down there at your vagina? Do you have fever and pain in the lower part of your abdomen?
If you have a smelly vaginal discharge that is greenish or yellowish, you have an infection.
Vaginal infections in young women can cause bleeding any time within your menstrual cycle and before your period.
If you’re not sure about your vaginal discharge odor, you should inform your doctor. Some of the common vaginal infections in women are:
- Candida infections
- Gonorrhea infections
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV infections)
5. You have fibroid
A fibroid is an abnormal benign growth in the uterus. It rarely transforms to cancer and can cause irregular spotting in women. It is common in young women and usually gets smaller in size during menopause.
The submucous type, which is beneath the endometrium, can cause irregular spotting before your period
What are the symptoms of fibroid?
- Distended abdomen
- Menorrhagia or unusually heavy period
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Difficulty in passing stool or urine if the fibroid is large
If you have a fibroid, you should inform your doctor.
Read more: Symptoms of fibroids and treatment options
6. You started a pill or changed to a new one
Birth control pills are used to prevent pregnancy. If you’re just started a pill, it can cause spotting.
Did you miss your pill or not taking it regularly? If you missed your pill and you are spotting, you should inform your doctor (Or ensure additional contraception).
However, it is not unusual to spot on the pill. In the first few months after starting your pills, you may experience light spotting. This resolves as your body adapts to your pills.
Miscarriage can be the reason why you’re bleeding between periods. A lot of women will miscarry before they even know. It is estimated that about 50 percent of women will lose their baby due to failed implantation.
What is a miscarriage? Miscarriage is the cessation of pregnancy before 20 weeks that may or may not be followed by bleeding from the vagina. There are different types.
A threatened miscarriage is vaginal bleeding with or without abdominal pain. Ultrasound will reveal your baby is still alive.
What should I do if bleeding is due to threatened miscarriage?
Get a pregnancy test done and inform your doctor if you have brown spotting during pregnancy. Bed rest, heat pads and drugs to relieve pain are advised. Other forms of miscarriage are missed and incomplete miscarriage.
How to know you’re having a miscarriage?
- You may notice a brown discharge before period or a very light bleeding before your expected period. This is a sign of implantation, though not experienced by all women.
- You feel early signs of pregnancy like breast pain, breast swelling, nausea, implantation cramping or pain, excessive discharge before next period and feeling easily tired.
- Miscarriage spotting can be light or heavy depending on the cause of the pregnancy and the cause of miscarriage.
8. Bleeding disorders in women
Bleeding disorders can affect how your body heals from an injury. This is due to lack of platelets or clotting factors needing for wound healing.
Von Willebrand disease and hemophilia are examples of a bleeding disorder. If you are having difficulty with wound healing, it can cause prolonged periods or spotting in between your period.
Symptoms of bleeding disorders you may experience are
- Easy skin bruising
- Bleeding from small cuts for a long time
- Severe bleeding after a procedure or surgery
- Bleeding after tooth removal in the past
If you’ve had any of the above symptoms, then you could have a bleeding disorder. You should inform your doctor for further evaluation.
9. Cancer or endometrial hyperplasia
Cancer of the vulva, cervix and the uterus can cause spotting in between periods. Endometrial cancer is common in older women more than 40 to 45 years of age. Symptoms are irregular bleeding, pain during intercourse or dysuria.
Endometrial cancer is common in older women more than 40 to 45 years of age. Symptoms are irregular bleeding, pain during intercourse or dysuria. Endometrial hyperplasia is a result of the unopposed effect of estrogen.
Both cancer and endometrial hyperplasia can cause women to bleed vaginally.
10. Intrauterine device (IUD)
IUDs are contraceptive devices that can cause spotting in women when inserted for the first time. If you just inserted a hormonal or copper IUD and you’re experiencing bleeding, then you should not worry except if it is heavy.
If you have very long periods with frequent spotting, then you should let your doctor know about your symptoms.
10 Reasons to worry about bleeding in between periods
- Your spotting or bleeding is very heavy
- You notice your period is lasting longer than seven days
- Your period is very heavy with period blood clots
- You have smelling vaginal discharge that may be green, white, yellow or brown.
- You have vaginal itching with pain
- Your abdomen is distended, and you feel a hard mass inside
- You are losing weight after menopause with bleeding
- You bleed easily from small injury or cuts
- You’re getting fatigued and weak from heavy bleeding
- Pain during intercourse
If you have these problems, then it’s abnormal. Inform your doctor ASAP.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
These are some asked questions that may affect you. If you have more questions, let us know below.
What causes spotting 2, 3, 4, 5 days before period?
If you notice spotting 2 or 3 days before period then its most likely due to implantation and pregnancy. Implantation spotting is usually lighter than your normal period and resolves very shortly.
Other causes are
- Vaginal infections
- Birth control pills
What causes spotting a week before period?
Spotting a week before period is likely due to implantation or pregnancy.
Are you feeling nausea before period? Do you feel other signs of pregnancy like breast pain, nipple itching or abdomen pain?
If you’re spotting a week early and thinking it may be pregnancy, you should wait for a week after your next period date and get a test done.
Is spotting before period pregnancy?
Yes and No. In some women, there is a chance implantation of the embryo will cause bleeding. If you have to spot before your period, then you may be pregnant.
Are you more than 40 years? Then it could be perimenopause, endometrial hyperplasia or cancer.
What causes brown spotting before period?
Brown spotting before period could mean you are pregnant, ovulating or during intercourse.
Learn more about brown mucus discharge before period.
What causes spotting before period on birth control?
If you just started taking a pill or not regular with your pills, it’s possible you may have irregular spotting during the first few months. You don’t have to worry yet as it resolves in few months.
What causes spotting instead of period?
If you are expecting your next period and notice a very light spotting instead of your usual period, then it’s likely due to implantation bleeding. This type of bleeding means you may be pregnant. Other causes of spotting instead of periods are
- Vaginal infections
- Sexual intercourse
- Delayed ovulation
- Early period
- Emotional or academic problems
- Uterine polyps
If you are worried your spotting may be due to pregnancy, let your doctor know or run a pregnancy test.
Now it’s your turn. Did you spot before period? Do you feel it may not be pregnancy? Let us know your symptoms if we could help.