Spotting Before Period: Sign of Early Pregnancy or PMS?


Have you ever experienced spotting before your period? Did you wonder if it could be a sign of early pregnancy or if it is just a sign your period was on its way? Let’s discuss what spotting is, its causes, and how to tell if it is a sign of pregnancy or just pesky PMS (premenstrual syndrome).

What is considered spotting?

Spotting refers to light vaginal bleeding that occurs outside of your regular period. You may notice a few drops of blood or a small amount of discharge in your underwear or on your toilet paper. Spotting can appear as light pink or even brown in color and typically lasts for just a few hours or up to a few days.

Spotting before period: Is this normal?

Spotting before your period can be normal for some women, while it can be a sign of an underlying condition for others. It really depends on your individual menstrual cycle and what is normal for you. If you experience spotting a few days before your period and it is consistent with your usual cycle, then it is typically nothing to worry about.

What causes spotting before your period?

  • Ovulation
  • Some women experience spotting during ovulation, which occurs around 14 days before your next period. This spotting is usually light and may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as cramping or mild and brief discomfort.

  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • During the fertile window when a woman is most likely to conceive, a surge in estrogen that happens before your surge in LH can be responsible for spotting.  If you experience spotting after ovulation – during the luteal phase – a progesterone deficiency can be to blame. If progesterone levels are low, it can cause spotting before you should expect your period.

  • Implantation Bleeding
  • This is a common cause of spotting in early pregnancy. When a fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus, it can cause light bleeding that is often mistaken for a period. Implantation bleeding typically occurs about 6-10 days after ovulation.

  • Health Issues
  • Certain health issues, including polyps or fibroids in the uterus, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease can cause spotting. In some cases, spotting can also be a sign of a more serious condition, such as cervical or uterine cancer. It is always a good idea to reach out to your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual spotting.

    What is spotting when pregnant?

    Spotting during pregnancy is not uncommon for women to experience in some form during the first trimester of pregnancy. As previously discussed, early pregnancy spotting can be due to implantation bleeding, which occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself in the lining of the uterus. This can range in color from light pink to brown and may last a few days. Any bleeding during pregnancy should always be discussed with your provider, as it could be a sign of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. It never hurts to err on the side of caution!

    Does spotting count as a period?

    Spotting is often confused with a period, but they are actually different. A period is an expected, moderate to heavy flow of blood that occurs as a part of your menstrual cycle and typically lasts for several days. Spotting is lighter in flow and usually shorter in duration lasting for a few hours or up to a few days. Additionally, a period is a predictable part of the menstrual cycle and occurs at regular intervals, whereas spotting can occur at any time and is often unpredictable. 

    It’s important to note that irregular cycles or periods can also contribute to confusion between spotting and a period. Women with irregular periods may experience unpredictable bleeding patterns, including spotting between periods or prolonged spotting instead of a regular period. If you have irregular periods, it can be helpful to track your cycle to identify any underlying issues that may be the cause.

    How to track spotting and other symptoms

    Keeping tabs on any spotting you experience can help you identify an early pregnancy or help you notice when there may be an underlying issue.

    The Premom app makes it so easy to track spotting and other health signs! Simply download the free app and log your period, flow and spotting, symptoms, moods and so much more. The more information you enter about your cycle, the better the app gets to know you. It’s like having a personal assistant who keeps track of your fertility health at your fingertips. What’s better than that? Try it today!

    Spotting before period, track your symptoms



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    Mazur-Bialy, A. I., Poleszak, E., & Wlaz, P. (2021). Abnormal uterine bleeding as a symptom of uterine fibroids - a systematic review. Przeglad menopauzalny = Menopause review, 20(2), 121-128. doi: 10.5114/pm.2021.107523

    Njoku, C. O., & Ezegwui, H. U. (2016). The prevalence and clinical pattern of intermenstrual bleeding among women attending the gynecological outpatient clinic of a Nigerian tertiary hospital. Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research, 6(5), 286-290. doi: 10.4103/2141-9248.192257

    Vercellini, P., Oldani, S., Cortesi, I., Moschetta, M., De Giorgi, O., & Crosignani, P. G. (2014). Pelvic endometriosis is associated with abnormal uterine bleeding when the endometrium is involved. Journal of minimally invasive gynecology, 21(5), 843-849. doi: 10.1016/j.jmig.2014.03.007

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