9 Reasons Not to Ignore Spotting Before Period

9 Reasons Not to Ignore Spotting Before Period
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Many women experience spotting before their period or at times out of their regular menstrual period. The severity of the spotting can range from a few pink or brown spots on underwear to heavier vaginal bleeding. In most cases, spotting before period isn’t anything to worry about and it will only last a couple of days. Some of the most common causes of bleeding before period are ovulation, implantation bleeding, certain contraception methods, an irregular period, or even stress.

Sometimes the spotting can occur even a week before your period and can be accompanied with cramping, pelvic discomfort, nausea, or vaginal discharge. If you notice unusual bleeding and/or heavy bleeding when you are not expecting it, you should visit your doctor or gynecologist. This is important because some of the more serious causes of spotting between periods are thyroid disease, ovarian cysts, or cancer.

This article looks at the possible causes of spotting in the weeks leading up to your period. This information can help you know if your condition is normal and whether you should seek medical advice or not.

Common Causes of Spotting Before Period

Here are the most common causes of spotting before your period is due.

Implantation bleeding

A common reason of spotting before you expect your period is implantation bleeding. This appears as small pink or brown spots on your underwear. Implantation bleeding is one of the first signs of pregnancy and it’s natural for some light bleeding to happen. It can also be one of the reasons for cramping with no period.

Dr. Nivin Todd, who is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says that the spotting occurs because when the fertilized egg becomes an embryo, it causes a little bleeding when it attaches itself to the uterus. You may also experience some mild cramping, and the bleeding usually happens before any signs of morning sickness.1

If you suspect you are pregnant, you should visit your doctor to arrange a pregnancy test or you can use home pregnancy test.

If you are already pregnant and notice heavy bleeding, you should call your doctor immediately as this could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.2

Ovulation

Vaginal spotting about 2 weeks before you expect your period could be a sign of ovulation. Ovulation occurs around 10 to 14 days before menstruation and it is when the ovaries release a mature egg. During ovulation your cervix produces mucus that is of an egg white consistency and color.

According to Dr. Andrew M Kaunitz, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, changes in hormone levels during ovulation can cause spotting before period. This is also common in women who have irregular ovulation, and they may experience light to heavy vaginal bleeding.3

Contraception

Various forms of birth control can cause light vaginal spotting before your period. A little bleeding from the vagina can occur between periods in the first few months of taking the oral contraceptive pill or if you have an intrauterine device (IUD) fitted.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom says that this type of irregular bleeding between periods is normal for many women. You may also experience irregular spotting after period if you miss taking the pill. If the spotting lasts for longer than 3 months, you should consult with your doctor.4

Intrauterine Device (IUD) for birth control can also be a reason for some bleeding between periods. According to Dr. Sarah Marshall on WebMD, the IUD can cause spotting with cramps before a menstrual period.5 You should visit your doctor if your bleeding becomes severe and you have severe pelvic pain and vaginal discharge.

Menopause

A woman who is approaching the menopause may start to experience pink or brown spotting and a light bleeding before her periods. This time the period is called perimenopause. Perimenopausal bleeding may be accompanied by your periods becoming more irregular and because your periods are irregular, you may experience spotting a week before your period.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains that changes in estrogen and progesterone levels cause irregular bleeding or spotting.6

The perimenopausal years and the menopause can put your body under a lot of stress as you go through these changes. To get relief from hot flashes, lower energy levels, and anxiety, you can find useful information in my article on some of the best natural supplements for menopause. Or, you could try some essentials oils to relieve the symptoms of the menopause.

Stress

Being under extreme emotional or physiological stress can cause spotting before or after period. Stress can interfere with your hormones and cause irregular periods. You may also notice pinkish or brown spots on your underwear from vaginal bleeding before your period is due.

Although extreme stress can be a reason for your menstrual periods to stop,7 doctors say that in some women it can cause irregular bleeding.4

Stress can cause many other health issues but there are many natural ways to effectively relieve stress and anxiety.

Thyroid disease

Problems with your thyroid could cause irregular bleeding and spotting even a week before your period. Hypothyroidism is a common thyroid disorder when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. A doctor will be able to test your levels of thyroid hormone to see if your body is producing enough.

According to Drugs.com, hypothyroidism can cause various symptoms like extreme tiredness, depression, muscle and joint aches, and irregular vaginal bleeding.8 In some cases, you may also experience excessive menstrual bleeding during your period.9

For more information on identifying thyroid disorders, please read my article about the top 13 signs that you may have problems with your thyroid.

Cancer

If you have any menstrual changes that don’t resolve themselves in a few days, you should visit your doctor to rule out the possibility of uterine, ovarian, cervical cancer, or endometrial cancer. Abnormal bleeding is a common sign of cancer in a woman’s reproductive system.

The doctors from the NHS in the United Kingdom say that unusual spotting before period or vaginal bleeding after you have been through the menopause can be a symptom of endometrial cancer.10 Some of the other symptoms of endometrial cancer are fatigue, nausea, and pelvic pain.

According to the American Cancer Society, menstrual changes are a symptom of ovarian cancer that many people aren’t aware of. However, the main symptoms of ovarian cancer are bloating, abdominal pain and a feeling of urgency to pee frequently.11

The irregular bleeding itself before your period doesn’t mean that you have cancer. In fact, the NHS says that it’s unlikely that unusual vaginal bleeding is caused by cancer, but you should have it checked out to put your mind at rest.

Ovarian cyst

Spotty bleeding in the weeks before your period could be due to an ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts are small sacs filled with fluid that develop in the ovaries. If they rupture, it can cause lower pelvic pain, bleeding, and severe discomfort.

Dr. Sarah Marshall on eMedicineHealth.com says that along with spotting between periods, you may experience vaginal pain, nausea, abdominal discomfort, heartburn, and lower back pain during your menstrual cycle.12 Usually, doctors wait to see if ovarian cysts resolve on their own. In some cases, ovarian cysts are surgically removed.

To find out more about ovarian cysts, please read my article about the many warning signs of ovarian cysts that you should never ignore.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can cause brown spotting before your period along with other symptoms. PID is caused by a bacterial infection and is often a result of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that along with the irregular vaginal bleeding, you may have vaginal discharge with a foul odor, lower abdomen pain, and a fever. 13 The reason for the light bleeding is that PID causes inflammation and infection in your uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes.14 However, not all women with pelvic inflammatory disease show symptoms and experience pre-period spotting.

It’s important to visit your doctor if you think that you have PID. Your doctor will prescribe medications to get rid of the infection as quickly as possible.

Other Causes of Spotting Before Periods

There are some less common reasons for spotting between periods or in the week just before your period is due. Some of these are:

  • Uterine fibroids. These are small harmless growths that develop in the uterus. Uterine fibroids cause symptoms like bladder problems, lower back pain, pelvic discomfort, and spotting before period.
  • Urethral prolapse. This happens when the pressure on the muscles that hold the urethra in place stretch and weaken. It can cause irregular spotting between your periods. Kegel exercises can help to strengthen your pelvic muscles and prevent urine leaking.

Spotting Before Period – When to See a Doctor

If the spotting doesn’t resolve itself in a day or two and your vaginal bleeding continues or becomes heavier, you should visit your doctor. In fact, doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend contacting your doctor in any case of unusual bleeding from your vagina.15

Frequent spotting before a period has also been linked to a number of serious health conditions. For example, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that women who have irregular menstrual cycles are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.16 Also, the medical journal JAMA found that women with long irregular menstrual cycles are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.17

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Article Sources

  1. WebMD. What is implantation bleeding?
  2. WebMD. Bleeding during pregnancy.
  3. UpToDate. Abnormal uterine bleeding.
  4. NHS. What causes bleeding between periods?
  5. WebMD. Intrauterine device for birth control.
  6. ACOG. Perimenopausal bleeding.
  7. MedicineNet. Vaginal bleeding.
  8. Drugs. Bleeding between menstrual periods.
  9. MedicineNet. Thyroid disorders.
  10. NHS. Womb cancer.
  11. Cancer. Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
  12. eMedicineHealth. Ovarian cysts.
  13. MayoClinic. Pelvic inflammatory disease.
  14. WebMD. Abnormal vaginal bleeding.
  15. MayoClinic. Vaginal bleeding.
  16. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 May;87(5):2013-7.
  17. JAMA. 2001 Nov 21;286(19):2421-6.
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