Spotting Before and After Periods - What Does It Mean?

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Any type of unexpected blood can be scary, but it is important to manage your fear and assess the situation. There could be many reasons for your spotting between periods, and just because you are bleeding does not necessarily mean there is a problem. In fact, most women experience this at some point in their lives. So, let us explore the reasons why you may be spotting before and after periods.

How to Get Pregnant

Spotting due to ovulation

If possible, take note of when the spotting occurs. About 10 percent of women will experience some kind of spotting during ovulation. This is due to a temporary drop in estrogen when the egg is released, and it is completely normal. If you are spotting from ovulation, you may also experience some light cramping, and the small amount of blood you see may be mixed with vaginal discharge. See our infographic on signs of ovulation.

Spotting before your period

It is also normal for many women to experience spotting as a first symptom of their menstrual period. This does not necessarily mean that spotting always occurs for these women before their period, but it is not abnormal for a woman to have an unusual cycle due to stress or outside factors. Such an unusual cycle could cause spotting to occur up to three days before a woman is due for her regular period. It may also occur up to a week after her period for the same reason.

Spotting during pregnancy

Many women experience spotting in the first trimester of pregnancy, so if you are in the stage between >ovulation and your menstrual period, there is a chance you may be pregnant. During the first few days of pregnancy, it is very common for women to experience some form of spotting as the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, this is known as implantation bleeding. This occurs so early in pregnancy that most women do not even realize they are pregnant yet.

Spotting during perimenopause

As your body transitions to not having periods any longer, it is common to experience spotting between periods. Still, if you think your spotting is due to perimenopause, you should consult your doctor. He or she can rule out other possible causes of your spotting and help you through the process.

When to see a doctor

There is an important distinction between spotting and heavy bleeding.

Spotting is light bleeding that lasts for about three days or less. If you are experiencing spotting or bleeding that goes on for a week or more, and it is not your period, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. Also, if you are noticing a pattern of bleeding or spotting between periods, consult with your doctor. If you are experiencing heavy bleeding for any reason, especially after sex, be sure to get it checked out. These things may have simple explanations, but your doctor can rule out more serious possibilities.

Logging spotting in your daily log

If you're using Ovulation Calculator to help you get pregnant, keep a log of any days you see spotting in your daily log. Note: You can only add spotting on days that you haven't marked as period days.

Have you seen any spotting? Have a question? Leave a comment below.

New Join the Discussion!

  1. Michele Aug 16, 2016
    It has been 2 days since my last period and now I'm having brown spotting/discharge that looks like little strings? What is this?
    1. Christina (OC Team): It's difficult to say. Have a look at this article to learn more about your cycle: And if you're concerned, talk to your doctor. - (Aug 17, 2016)
  2. Hazel Aug 22, 2016
    My spotting started on the 11th. I had a heavy flow on the 16th until the 19th and it continued with dark brown spotting up to the 23rd of the month. What should I do about it?
    1. Christina (OC Team): I'd suggest talking to your doctor. Good luck! - (Aug 23, 2016)
  3. Tori Sep 01, 2016
    I have irregular periods and I'm ttc. I was experiencing some cramping for a couple days, had intercourse, and two days later spotted overnight. Then it stopped and the cramping continued for a couple more days. Could I have ovulated this past week?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Try using OPKs to track ovulation. Good luck! - (Sep 02, 2016)
  4. Oyeen Sep 04, 2016
    I had my period on 26th -28th and had intercourse on the 29th. I used postinor 2. Then I noticed dark brown spotting on the 4th. Does it mean I'm pregnant?
    1. Christina (OC Team): The spotting may have been from ovulation. Have a look at this article about the symptoms of ovulation - (Sep 05, 2016)
  5. Gina Sep 05, 2016
    I had my menses on August 10th and an HSG scan on the 20th. I started bleeding on the 28th of August, which lasted for 6 days. How is my ovulation calculated since I am TTC?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Log your cycle dates into your account here at Ovulation Calculator to get a prediction. - (Sep 06, 2016)
  6. Lilian Sep 06, 2016
    Hi, I see blood on the 6th day of my period. Is that ok?
    1. Christina (OC Team): If you usually have a much shorter period and are concerned about the length of this one, talk to your doctor. - (Sep 06, 2016)
  7. Harley Sep 07, 2016
    I had my period on Aug 25th and it ended Aug 29th. I had sex on the 4th of Sept, and on the 6th, I woke up to use the bathroom and noticed I was spotting. Does this mean anything? Please help me.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Are you tracking ovulation? Spotting could be a sign that you're ovulating - (Sep 07, 2016)
  8. Leonie Sep 07, 2016
    On the 21st of last month, I had spotting until the 23rd. Then on on the 1st of this month, I came on my period for 5 days. What could this mean?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Were you tracking ovulation? Spotting can be a symptom of ovulation. You can learn more about that here - (Sep 07, 2016)
  9. Anigwe Sep 08, 2016
    I have an irregular menstrual cycle. I have been expecting my period from 1-5 Sept and I didn't see it. I had sex on the 5th and took postinor2. The next day, I noticed spots of blood, which I noticed after sex, especially after urination, which lasted for a day. 2 days ago, I noticed vaginal discharge and had slight cramps. I'm currently on antibiotics. Does that mean I'm ovulating?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Have you taken a pregnancy test? You didn't mention whether you had sex in your fertile window, but it sounds like implantation may be a possibility. Have a look at this article for more info - (Sep 09, 2016)
  10. Shikisha Sep 10, 2016
    Hi, I had sex on Tuesday and I started spotting from Wednesday and am still spotting now, Saturday the 10th. And I have slight cramping but nothing extreme. But is that something to worry about?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Do you know where you are in your cycle? Cramping could be from ovulation, implantation or menstruation. - (Sep 10, 2016)
  11. Shikisha Sep 10, 2016
    Hi, my spotting started wed the 7th and is still happening on the 10th. My last period was the 19th of Aug and I was wondering if it is natural.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Depending on where you are in your cycle, your spotting could be from ovulation. Have a look at this article for more information. - (Sep 10, 2016)
  12. Rebecca Sep 14, 2016
    It's day 21 for me. My cycles are about 31 days. My OPKs are negative, but I'm cramping from my left ovary and spotting. Is it possible to ovulate when the OPK is negative?
    1. Christina (OC Team): If you're questioning whether the OPKs are accurate for you, I'd suggest trying to track ovulation with another method, such as charting BBT. For this cycle, though, you can evaluate cervical mucus and position to see whether the OPK is giving you an accurate reading. Here's a guide on how to do that: - (Sep 14, 2016)
  13. Leti Sep 14, 2016
    Hi, I had spotting from 8/31 - 9/4, then had my period 9/5 - 9/9. I had sex on the 12th and today I have spotting again. I took a pregnancy test on the 11th and it was negative. My ovulation schedule starts tomorrow. Any idea why I'm having this irregular spotting? Thanks
    1. Christina (OC Team): It sounds like it could possibly have been the start of your period. If you're concerned, talk to your doctor. - (Sep 14, 2016)
  14. Augustina Sep 18, 2016
    I been having period symptoms for a week and last night, I had bad cramps. I had some light pink discharge with one speck of red blood. I took a pregnancy test and it was negative. I had intercourse on the 1st and 2nd of the month. Now it's clear and strechy?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Do you now where you are in your cycle? You could be experiencing implantation or symptoms of ovulation. - (Sep 19, 2016)
  15. Rebecca Sep 20, 2016
    I had sex on the 17th of August. Then I had my period from the 3rd of September to the 7th of September, which was a normal heavy flow.
    Then on the 18th of September, I found out that I have brownish discharge. What does that mean? Am I pregnant? I haven't had sex since the 17th of August.
    1. Christina (OC Team): If it's light spotting, it could be a symptom of ovulation. Have a look at this article: - (Sep 20, 2016)
  16. Tania Sep 23, 2016
    I got my dark positive opk the 18th at 3pm...since the 20th I've had light pink and brown spotting and I have a short 25 day cycle and 10 day phase any ideas what this could be? I'd think it's too late for ovulation bleeding and period isn't due until 28th at earliest
    1. Christina (OC Team): It's difficult to say. Implantation bleeding would occur between ovulation and when you expect your period, but it usually happens between 6-2 days past ovulation. Have a look at this article - (Sep 23, 2016)
  17. Tania Sep 23, 2016
    I've read that article, but is ovulation spotting out of the question?
    1. Christina (OC Team): It's not out of the question. I'd suggest testing if AF doesn't come. Good luck! - (Sep 24, 2016)
  18. Patricia Oct 10, 2016
    I started spotting after having sex. What could be the cause?
    1. Christina (OC Team): It could have been from the sex itself. - (Oct 10, 2016)
  19. Rose Oct 11, 2016
    I'm taking clomid. Last month is my second month. My period is regular (every 28 days). I got my period on sept 29 to oct 3. It was heavy as usual to start with brownish discharge. Then on Oct 8th in the evening, I got spotting when I wiped. On the tissue, I see light brown and a little line of blood. I never ever have spotting in my life. That's why im so terrified. I made an appointment with my ob. I hope someone can help me understand this. I'm spotting when it's suppose to be ovulation week.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Spotting could be a normal symptom of ovulation. Have a look at this article - (Oct 12, 2016)
    2. Rose: I see that, but in my case, I've never ever have spotting in my life. I'm scheduled to see my obgyn Friday. Thanks anyway! - (Oct 12, 2016)
  20. Mahalakshmi Oct 12, 2016
    Hi, I am having irregular periods because of pcos. I am trying for a baby. I got my period on Sept 21st and I had intercourse on 24th Sept. Now from the 10th of Oct, I am having a little bleeding. Shall I take it as my period or not? What does it mean?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Spotting could be a sign of ovulation, implantation or early menstruation, depending on where you are in your cycle. With PCOS, it's even more important to track your cycles when TTC. I'd suggest using OPKs if you aren't already. Good luck! - (Oct 12, 2016)
  21. Mukuka Oct 18, 2016
    I had my period on the 9th to the 13th of October. Then on the 14th, I had unprotected sex. That very day, I took a morning after pill and on the 18th of October, I found spotting of red blood.
  22. Anna Oct 18, 2016
    My period was seven days late last month, but it came on the ninth day. Does that mean I have to do a pregnancy test to be sure?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Only if you think you may be pregnant. - (Oct 19, 2016)
  23. Tonya Oct 22, 2016
    Hello, I had my period on Sep 28th- Oct 2nd and I had some spotting for 1 day, which was Oct 19th. It was just a couple of spots and it was brown in color. I'm not supposed to start my period again until Oct 27th. What could this mean???
    1. Christina (OC Team): Spotting could be from ovulation or implantation, depending on where you were in your cycle. - (Oct 22, 2016)
  24. Nikki Oct 22, 2016
    Period Sept 30-October 4. Unprotected sex: October 19 (withdrawal). Dark brown spotting: October 15-16 (only when I wipe). Likelihood that it's not pregnancy?
    1. Christina (OC Team): It's difficult to say if you weren't tracking ovulation. If the spotting you experienced was a symptom of ovulation and you ovulated on the 16th (again, there's no way to be sure of this), you would not have gotten pregnant from sex at 3dpo. But if you don't know when you ovulated, anything is possible. I'd suggest testing if your period doesn't show on time. - (Oct 24, 2016)

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