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Spotting Before Menstruation: Reasons and When to Seek Help

spotting before periods

Spotting before menstruation, commonly known as “premenstrual spotting,” is a frequent occurrence for women.

This blog aims to shed light on its causes, symptoms, and implications. Understanding premenstrual spotting can help you navigate your menstrual cycle confidently, prioritise reproductive health, and know when to seek medical advice.

What is Premenstrual Spotting?

Spotting is light vaginal bleeding outside your regular period, often with small amounts of blood. It may appear in underwear or on toilet paper after using the restroom. A panty liner usually suffices for protection, not a pad or tampon.

Any bleeding outside your period is abnormal vaginal bleeding (intermenstrual). While it can indicate serious issues occasionally, it’s usually harmless. Consult a doctor if concerned about spotting between periods.

What Are the Causes of Spotting Before Menstruation?

Experiencing spotting before your period can occur due to various factors, such as:

  1. Pregnancy:

    Approximately 15-25% of pregnant individuals may notice light pink, red, or brown spotting in the first trimester. While spotting is common, contact a doctor if it becomes heavy or is accompanied by pelvic pain, potentially indicating complications.

  2. Birth Control:

    Hormonal birth control methods like pills, patches, injections, rings, or implants can lead to spotting, especially when initiating, altering, or missing doses. Consult a doctor if symptoms persist.

  3. Ovulation:

    Around 4.8% of menstruating women may experience ovulation-related spotting, occurring approximately 14 days before menstruation. Recognizing these signs can aid in conceiving.

  4. Perimenopause:

    During the transition to menopause, irregular periods, spotting, or variations in flow are common.

  5. Cancer:

    While spotting is not a typical cancer symptom, certain types, like endometrial, cervical, ovarian, or vaginal cancer, can cause abnormal bleeding or spotting, especially post-menopause.

  6. Implantation Bleeding:

    This occurs when a fertilised egg attaches to the uterine lining, causing light pink to dark brown spotting a few days before the expected period. Seek medical attention if heavy bleeding occurs during pregnancy.

  7. Trauma:

    Vaginal or cervical trauma, such as rough sex, tampon use, or pelvic exams, can lead to irregular spotting.

  8. Polyps:

    Cervical or uterine polyps may cause spotting, light bleeding after sex, or unusual discharge. Consult a doctor if symptoms persist.

  9. STIs:

    Sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia or gonorrhoea can result in spotting, along with other symptoms. Early treatment is vital.

  10. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID):

    Abnormal bleeding between periods is a common PID symptom, potentially requiring antibiotics for treatment.

  11. Fibroids:

    Uterine fibroids may lead to spotting between periods, heavier menstrual flow, pelvic pain, and urinary issues.

  12. Endometriosis:

    Endometriosis can cause spotting, along with pelvic pain, heavy periods, painful intercourse, and other symptoms.

  13. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS):

    Irregular bleeding is a sign of PCOS, which can also affect fertility and manifest in various other symptoms.

  14. Stress:

    High levels of physical or emotional stress may result in vaginal spotting.

  15. Medications:

    Some drugs, such as blood thinners, thyroid medications, or hormonal drugs, may lead to abnormal vaginal bleeding. Consult your doctor for alternatives.

  16. Thyroid problems:

    Hypothyroidism, characterised by an underactive thyroid, can cause spotting after menstruation. Hormone therapy may be necessary.

Spotting can have multiple causes, so consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment if necessary.

You Can Also Read: Brown Vaginal Discharge

How Can You Differentiate Spotting From a Period? 

Distinguishing between spotting and the bleeding encountered during menstruation is essential.

Spotting, in general:

  • Tends to have a lighter flow.
  • Often exhibits a pink, reddish, or brown colour.
  • Typically subsides within a duration of 1 or 2 days.

On the other hand, menstrual bleeding:

  • Tends to be heavier and often requires the use of a pad or tampon.
  • It lasts for a duration of four to seven days.
  • Results in an overall blood loss ranging from approximately 30 to 72 millilitres (mL).
  • Occurs at regular intervals of every 21 to 35 days.

Should One Undergo a Pregnancy Test if Spotting Before a Period?

If you’re in your reproductive years and suspect pregnancy, use an at-home hCG test to check. If you see a positive result, then it is advisable to consult an obstetrician-gynaecologist for confirmation.

If it’s negative but your period is more than a week late, seek a doctor’s evaluation. They can investigate potential underlying conditions causing the delay.

Monitoring hCG levels in your urine is a reliable way to detect pregnancy, but a medical consultation is essential for both positive and negative results if there are unusual menstrual changes.

When Should You See a Doctor About Spotting Before Menstruation?

If you notice unexplained spotting between periods, consult a doctor as it could indicate a serious issue.

Keep track of spotting and accompanying symptoms for the doctor’s evaluation.

Seek immediate medical attention if spotting is accompanied by:

  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Easy bruising
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Heavy bleeding

Postmenopausal spotting also warrants a doctor’s visit.

Diagnostic procedures may include:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests

Early intervention is crucial for prompt treatment and management of any potential health concerns.

How Can You Prevent Spotting Before Menstruation?

To minimise spotting before menstruation, consider the following strategies:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with balanced nutrition and regular exercise.
  • Stay hydrated and manage stress through relaxation techniques.
  • Consider hormonal birth control methods for cycle regulation.
  • Track your menstrual cycle for patterns and irregularities.
  • Seek medical advice for persistent spotting or underlying health issues such as PCOS or thyroid disorders.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption.
  • Use herbal remedies cautiously and consult a healthcare professional.
  • Remain at a healthy weight by eating well and exercising.
  • Remember to seek tailored guidance from a healthcare professional before trying new approaches.

You Can Also Read: How to know You have Vaginitis?

What is the Treatment for Spotting Before Menstruation?

Spotting before menstruation has diverse causes, with treatment options depending on the underlying issue. Here are common reasons and their treatments:

  1. Hormonal Imbalance:

    Fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels can lead to spotting before menstruation. Treatment may involve hormonal therapy to regulate hormone levels, such as birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.

  2. Stress:

    Stress can disrupt hormonal balance and lead to spotting. Managing stress through relaxation techniques, exercise, and counselling may help alleviate symptoms.

  3. Uterine Fibroids:

    These non-cancerous growths in the uterus can cause spotting before menstruation. Treatment options may include medication to shrink the fibroids, surgical removal, or procedures like uterine artery embolization.

  4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS):

    PCOS can cause irregular periods and spotting. Treatment may involve lifestyle changes such as weight loss, medication to regulate menstrual cycles, or fertility treatments if pregnancy is desired.

  5. Endometriosis:

    This disorder develops when uterine lining-like tissue grows outside the uterus. Treatment may involve pain management medication, hormone therapy, or surgery to remove the abnormal tissue.

  6. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID):

    An infection of the reproductive organs, usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria, can lead to spotting and other symptoms. Treatment typically involves antibiotics to clear the infection.

  7. Cervical or Uterine Polyps:

    These growths on the cervix or inside the uterus can cause spotting. Treatment may involve surgical removal of the polyps.

  8. Ovulation:

    Some women may experience spotting during ovulation, which is normal and typically does not require treatment.

It’s essential to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and medical history.


Spotting before menstruation is a common occurrence with various potential causes, including hormonal fluctuations, stress, or underlying health issues. Monitoring patterns and pursuing professional help if concerns arise is crucial. It is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced gynaecologist. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult a gynaecologist, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment at the CK Birla Hospital.


Is Spotting Before Periods Normal?

Spotting before periods can be normal due to hormonal changes, but if it is persistent or severe, consult a healthcare professional.

Can Stress Cause Spotting Before Periods?

Stress may disrupt hormonal balance, potentially causing spotting before periods. For individualised guidance and management, speak with a healthcare professional.

How Can I Differentiate Spotting From a Light Period?

Spotting is light bleeding, often minimal and brief. A light period typically involves slightly more bleeding, lasting longer.

Are There Any Natural Remedies for Spotting?

Natural remedies for spotting may include stress management, a balanced diet, adequate hydration, and herbal supplements like ginger.

When Should Spotting Be a Cause for Concern?

Spotting before periods may warrant concern if it’s heavy, prolonged, accompanied by pain, or irregular. Consult a healthcare professional promptly.

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