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% 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: https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/menstrual-cycle/ And if you're concerned, talk to your doctor. - (Aug 17, 2016)
    Reply
  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)
    Reply
  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)
    Reply
  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 https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ovulation-symptoms-signs/ - (Sep 05, 2016)
    Reply
  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)
    Reply
  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)
    Reply
  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 https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ovulation-symptoms-signs/ - (Sep 07, 2016)
    Reply
  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 https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ovulation-symptoms-signs/ - (Sep 07, 2016)
    Reply
  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 https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/implantation-bleeding-or-period-quiz/ - (Sep 09, 2016)
    Reply
  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)
    Reply
  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. https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ovulation-symptoms-signs/ - (Sep 10, 2016)
    Reply
  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: https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/cervix-cervical-mucus/ - (Sep 14, 2016)
    Reply
  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)
    Reply
  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)
    Reply
  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: https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ovulation-symptoms-signs/ - (Sep 20, 2016)
    Reply
  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 https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/implantation-bleeding-or-period-quiz/ - (Sep 23, 2016)
    Reply
  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)
    Reply
  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)
    Reply
  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 https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ovulation-symptoms-signs/ - (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)
    Reply
  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)
    Reply
  21. 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)
    Reply
  22. 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)
    Reply
  23. 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)
    Reply
  24. Briana Oct 27, 2016
    My period came 3 days early this month. My period started on oct 22, 2016 and ended oct 25,2016. I was supposed to start oct 25, 2016. Now that my period is over with, I'm still feeling slight cramps and I'm spotting still. My periods are very normal and I never experienced cramps after my period. Me and my bf have sex sept 30th, 2016, Oct 6, 2016, Oct 9,2016, Oct 12th, 2016 and oct 17-18, 2016. Could I be pregnant or is this normal? My cycle length is 29 days and I assumed it was 30 days.
    1. Christina (OC Team): You can test if you think you may be pregnant. It may just be an irregular period. Many things can throw our cycles off. - (Oct 27, 2016)
    Reply
  25. Anna Oct 28, 2016
    Sometimes I experienced spotting before and after my period that goes on for about 5-7days after the period ends. But like 4-5 before period starts, sometimes it has me worried. Should I go check myself out by seeing a doctor?
    1. Christina (OC Team): If you're worried, see your doctor. Hope all is well! - (Oct 29, 2016)
    Reply
  26. Danika Oct 29, 2016
    Ok my period came on on Oct 11th. I had sex on the 20th, but yes, my sex drive has been in overdrive lately. But between me and his work schedule, we try to fit time in, but my question is, last night we had sex and there was blood on his penis, but when I got up this morning, nothing. No blood anywhere. So what does that mean? Because I have never had that before. Not unless he knocks it on early.
    Reply
  27. Oni Oct 30, 2016
    I saw my last period on the 19th and had unprotected sex on the 28th in the morning. In the evening, K started sporting and it has lasted for three days now. It is brownish. Please, what does the is mean?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Spotting could be a sign of implantation, but I don't have enough information to know if that's likely. Good luck! - (Oct 30, 2016)
    Reply
  28. Ify Oct 31, 2016
    Hi, I started spotting on the 7th to 11th, then on the 11th, my period started flowing heavy. Can I start calculating my ovulation from the 7th or 11th?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Start calculating from the 11th - (Oct 31, 2016)
    Reply
  29. Stephanie Oct 31, 2016
    Hi, I started my period on Oct 1-7th and had unprotected sex on Oct 8th. I noticed the light bright red color, but then it disappeared the next day. And on Oct 23rd I had brown spotting. Then my period just started Oct 29 until Nov 4. I'm confused help me out. Thanks.
    1. Christina (OC Team): The spotting could have been part of your period, but if you think you may be pregnant, you can take a test. - (Nov 01, 2016)
    2. Christina (OC Team): It's difficult to say why you spotted on the 23rd. If you think you may be pregnant, you can take a test. - (Nov 01, 2016)
    Reply
  30. Keianna Nov 02, 2016
    I came on my period on the 22nd of Oct and stopped on the 28th. I had sex that day and spotted the next day. I had sex in my fertile window last month and been feeling sick. Can I be pregnant?
    1. Christina (OC Team): It sounds like a possibility. Good luck! - (Nov 02, 2016)
    Reply
  31. Onwuguzo Nov 03, 2016
    I have been having light spotting after my period every month. I need help.

    1. Christina (OC Team): I'd suggest tracking ovulation. Spotting could be a sign that you are ovulating. Have a look at this https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ovulation-symptoms-signs/ - (Nov 03, 2016)
    Reply
  32. Christy Nov 04, 2016
    I had my period on the 15th of October. When should I expect my ovulation in November?
    1. Christina (OC Team): If you create an account with Ovulation Calculator and enter your cycle dates, you will receive a prediction of your fertile window. - (Nov 05, 2016)
    Reply
  33. Sara Nov 16, 2016
    My ovulation for last month ended on the 4th of Nov and I had unprotected sex on that same day. I took postinor2 the next morning and on the 12th, I saw a dark brown discharge that lasted for five days. And I am expecting my period on the 18th of this same month. I was worried, so I took a home pregnancy test and it appeared negative. What could be the cause of this? And should I still expect my period even after the spotting? Or am I pregnant? Should I take another pregnancy test? Or I should wait a little longer since my period was suppose to come tomorrow?
    Reply
  34. Chy Nov 19, 2016
    I noticed spotting 16 days after my menses and it had lasted for 4 days and still counting. My last baby is now 8 months old and I've had normal periods since he was 5 or 6 months. It's kinda strange because this is my first spotting experience. Could it be an after birth change in system? Advice please.thanks.
    Reply
  35. Nicole Nov 20, 2016
    Hi. I have an irregular period and Sunday of last week was the last day of my period for this month. On the same day, I had intercourse. And now, I am noticing a brownish-pink stain on my underwear yet I am not sure if this was blood because my underwear is pink. What could have possibly happened?
    Reply
  36. Barb Nov 23, 2016
    I had my cycle Nov 10-13th. I had unprotected sex on the 13th. Then a week later, on the 19th, I had bright pink/red spotting for a week. I changed my pad 1x every day. What could this be?
    Reply
  37. Solar Nov 28, 2016
    Every cycle. I get brown spotting for 2-3 days before a red flow that will last 3-4 days.
    Do I count the first day of brown spotting as CD1 or the first day of red flow?
    1. Christina (OC Team): The first day of red flow. - (Nov 28, 2016)
    2. Anna: Thank you. This helps. - (Nov 28, 2016)
    Reply
  38. Rebecca Nov 29, 2016
    Hello, I'm really, really confused. I have two children, and I'm trying for 3rd. The first two were super easy. Now I'm 39 and it's really hard this time round. I normally have super regular periods. This month, I had spotting and horrible cramps at around day 14. I put it down to ovulation, so I shoved hubby upstairs at every opportunity!! Today, I'm 8 days late and yet am getting negative pregnancy tests. Mother nature can be cruel at times!!! Any explanation as to why a normally regular person has had this mid-month spotting, and no period? The app is asking me to confirm period, and of course I can't, and yet it's still telling me I'm due to start my fertile period tomorrow (as it assumes I got my period 8 days ago). Why won't it adjust, knowing I havent confirmed my period?! I have NO idea where my cycle is at this point. Advice, please. :(
    1. Christina (OC Team): Mid-month spotting could be a sign of ovulation and it's possible that you are experiencing an irregular cycle. The calculator does not assume you had your period if you don't log one, but your prediction will remain until the next period is logged. If you skipped a period, you may still ovulate on time next cycle, so your prediction would stay the same. - (Nov 29, 2016)
    2. Rebecca: Thank you. I came on today and logged it and so it now says I'm likely to ovulate in two weeks. As opposed to this weekend. My cycle this month is super long for some unknown reason :( - (Nov 29, 2016)
    3. Christina (OC Team): It's difficult to say exactly what would have changed your prediction, but it could have been in response to more than one irregular cycle or other data you've logged, such as CM, CP, OPK results, etc. The best thing to do now is to track your cycle closely and log all the physical signs of ovulation. I'd suggest using OPKs if you aren't already. Good luck! - (Dec 01, 2016)
    Reply
  39. Cindy Dec 01, 2016
    My period came last month on Oct 23rd. It lasted for about a week. I have not been sexually active this past month, but my period is now 8 days late and I experienced light spotting for one day. Two days later, spotting again. Am I pregnant? Please reply. I'm confused.
    Reply
  40. Suna Dec 02, 2016
    My period started on the 12th of November and finished on the 18th. I have regular periods and always have. I start after the 28th day of every month. However, this month, I was supposed to start on the 16th, but it is only the 2nd and I am bleeding. It has only been 2 weeks since I finished my period. I had a little bit of spotting on my pad, but when I go to the toilet for a wee, I bleed a lot while I'm wiping myself. How would I know when I'm on my period I am very confused and worried because this has never happened before.
    Reply
  41. Laura Dec 05, 2016
    Hello. I had a period that started on the 21st of November and from the 4th of December, I have had light bleeding. I've never experienced this before. My cycles tend to last between 33-36 days. Surely I can't have ovulated yet? Opks haven't picked anything up.
    Reply

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