General Health

Spotting Before Periods And In Other Scenarios

Spotting before your menstrual cycle starts is usually harmless. However, it may be an early sign of pregnancy or due to hormonal changes, implantation bleeding, polyps, or any other health conditions.

What is spotting?

Spotting is light vaginal bleeding that occurs at a time that doesn’t coincide with the normal menstrual cycle. Spotting usually involves a small amount of blood. Bleeding at any time other than the normal menstrual cycle is generally considered abnormal vaginal or intermenstrual bleeding. There can be several reasons behind spots. It can even be a serious underlying problem but not often.

Why does spotting occur before periods?

There are several reasons why spotting may occur before regular periods. Some of them are:-

  1. Pregnancy

About 15 to 25 per cent of pregnant people experience spotting during their first trimester. The bleeding may be pink, brown or red.

  1. Birth control pills

Spotting can occur when one uses pills, patches, injections, rings or implants. Spotting can also occur in the following situations.

  • Starting a hormone-based birth control method
  • Skipping the dose or taking birth control pills without following the instructions on the package
  • Changing the birth control type or dose
  • Using birth control for a long time

Birth control is sometimes used to treat abnormal bleeding between periods. However, one must consult a doctor if the symptoms do not improve.

  1. Ovulation

According to a 2012 study, about 4.8% of the people who menstruate experienced spotting related to ovulation. Ovulation spotting is light bleeding that occurs around the time in the menstrual cycle when an ovary releases an egg. This typically occurs 14 days after menstruation. Other symptoms associated with ovulation include:

  • Increase in cervical mucus
  • Change in the cervix’s position and firmness.
  • Increase in basal body temperature
  • A dull ache or pain in the abdomen
  • Breast pain
  • Bloating
  • Intensified sense of smell, taste, or vision
  1. Perimenopause

During the transition to menopause, there may be many months when one does not ovulate. This is called perimenopause. During perimenopause, periods are usually irregular, and one may experience spotting during this phase.

  1. Cancer

Specific cancer can cause abnormal bleeding, spotting, and other forms of vaginal discharge. A few examples of such cancers are endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and vaginal cancer.

  1. Implantation bleeding

Implantation bleeding may occur when a fertilized egg is attached to the inner uterine lining. About 15 to 25% of pregnant people experience bleeding in early pregnancy. Even if implantation spotting occurs, it should happen a few days before periods. At the time of implantation bleeding, one may experience headache, nausea, changes in mood, mild cramps, breast tenderness, lower backache, and fatigue.

  1. Trauma

Trauma to the vagina and cervix can sometimes cause spotting.

  1. Polyps

Polyps at small tissue growths can occur in multiple places, including the cervix and uterus. Cervical polyps can cause bleeding and uterine discharge.

  1. Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are small growths in the uterus. Sometimes, it can cause heavy periods, pelvic pain, painful intercourse, and urinary problems.

10.Thyroid disorders

Having an underactive thyroid can cause spotting in some females. Symptoms of hyperactive thyroid include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, and sensitivity to cold.

How is spotting different from periods?

Typically spotting is lighter in flow, red or purplish in colour, and doesn’t last for more than 1 or 2 days. On the other hand, bleeding is usually heavy enough to require a pad. It lasts 4 to 7 days and occurs every 21-35 days. Not only that, it can cause 30-72 ml blood loss.

Treatment

The plan of treatment depends on the cause of the spots. For example, hormonal medicines are prescribed if spotting occurs due to hormonal disbalance. Similarly, if spotting occurs as a result of infections, antibiotics are prescribed.

Conclusion

Several factors can cause spotting before the onset of periods. Some cases require prompt treatment, while others are harmless. Nevertheless, spotting becomes a matter of concern, especially when one has gone through menopause.

Author

Tuhina Mishra

Dr. Tuhina Mishra completed her MBBS from Grant Government Medical College in the year 2021. She has published several research papers in Indian and international journals. She is a recipient of the ICMR-STS award in the year 2019. She is a staunch believer in making research an integral part of the medical curriculum. She has volunteered in several NGOs, healthcare startups, and awareness programs.

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