Spotting is the worst. The only spots I’m looking for are the hot ones, amirite ladies? When it happens, it’s usually confusing, sometimes alarming, but mostly just annoying. Like, are you a period or nah?
I’m sure we’ve all experienced spotting, or “breakthrough bleeding” (BTB), at some point. Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility describes spotting as “small amounts of red, pink, or brownish blood occurring during the menstrual cycle at times other than the true menstrual period.” In fact, spotting between periods is actually very common and can be triggered by several things – some serious, some not so serious. So what is spotting, why does it happen, and how is it different from a legit period, you ask? Allow me to be your QTNA (Questions That Need Answers) Aficionado and share a few #MajorKeyAlerts as we ride through the journey of more success to understanding spotting.
Spotting vs. Your Actual Period
Vaginal bleeding from spotting is much lighter than your regular menstrual cycle – in flow and color. Keep that in mind. Blood flow during your period is heavier requiring protection (sanitary pads or tampons). Also, spotting is usually unexpected; a surprise appearance if you will, while your period tends to be more consistent. You know the Lady in Red is coming for her regularly scheduled monthly visit.
Why Spotting Happens
Your period happens when the membrane lining the inside of your uterus sheds causing menstrual bleeding. Spotting, though, may be caused by a variety of factors:
Birth Control Methods. Spotting is a common side effect of hormonal contraceptives. These birth control methods – birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), patches, shots, and implants – can cause spotting especially when you first start using them, switch to a new one, or even shortly after you stop. Note: If you’re experiencing BTB every month, *Beyonce’ voice* ring the alarm and alert your doctor. It might be time to consider other birth control options.
Cervical Polyps. Polyps are abnormal tissue growths that form on the cervix. While these benign little buds aren’t typically cancerous, they can bleed due to changing hormones levels from pregnancy.
Menopause. As your body begins to transition out of your baby-making years, fluctuating hormonal imbalances cause your period to be more unpredictable than usual.
Ovulation. Some women notice spotting during the middle of their menstrual cycle when an egg is released from their fallopian tubes. This can occur a day or two after you ovulate. Remember, ladies! Ovulation is the time in your cycle when you’re the most fertile, so don’t confuse ovulation spotting with menstrual bleeding.
Pregnancy. According to Healthline, about 20% of women experience spotting during their first trimester. Many women often mistake this early bleeding for a period because they don’t realize they’re pregnant. For healthy pregnancies, spotting is harmless; however, if you are pregnant and are spotting regularly, see your doctor right away to make sure it’s not something more serious (or potentially life-threatening for you or baby).
Rough Sex. Any damage to your vaginal lining can make you bleed a little bit (so have fun with your partner, but be careful too, girl!).
Even though spotting can happen regularly for women, it isn’t normal and can be a warning sign sometimes, too. Whenever you notice bleeding outside of your regular period, contact your primary care physician or OB-GYN, especially if you are pregnant. Spotting might be an indication of a more serious complication.
Don’t want you to be in danger, girl. Talk with your doctor about symptoms you’re experiencing and be prepared for a physical exam to identify the cause of your spotting.
For the most part, spotting is nothing serious – more of an inconvenience, really. A helpful, effective way to determine whether you’re spotting to menstruating is to *drumroll* TRACK YOUR PERIODS! Kindara is here for you, ladies, like a trusted friend. Use the app to chart your cycle, monitor your monthly menstruating patterns, and be sure to share findings with your doctor.
Feel better about spotting? Drop (see what I did there?) us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more QTNA.