By Heather Frame, BSN, RN | January 16, 2023
Have you noticed some mid-cycle spotting? Bleeding in between periods can be alarming, but it is not necessarily a cause for concern. It could, in fact, be a sign of successful ovulation! While bleeding during ovulation is generally uncommon – affecting around 5% of women – ovulation can occur with or without any noticeable symptoms.
What is ovulation bleeding and how long does it last?
Ovulation bleeding is light vaginal bleeding or spotting that occurs near the time of ovulation – the release of a mature egg from the ovary in the middle of your menstrual cycle. Ovulation bleeding typically lasts for just 1-2 days around the time your body releases an egg which can vary between cycle day 14 and 18 in a normal menstrual cycle. Our bodies can change ovulation day from cycle to cycle, so it’s important to track your cycle to know exactly when you ovulate.
What causes ovulation bleeding?
Hormonal changes are mostly responsible for causing ovulation bleeding. Women who do experience this spotting tend to have a higher level of estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH) near ovulation, and higher luteal progesterone. There are no studies that show these particular increased hormone levels result in a higher rate of conception. So, if you do not experience ovulation spotting, you can absolutely still have a healthy ovulation and get pregnant!
What are some ovulation bleeding symptoms?
Ovulation bleeding will look very similar to implantation bleeding, but will be light red or pink in color and will not contain any clots. The color is lighter than during your period bleeding because it usually is mixed with egg white cervical mucus, which indicates higher levels of fertility.
Is ovulation bleeding a reliable indicator for when I’m ovulating?
Some women rely on mid-cycle spotting as a means for tracking ovulation. Spotting alone does not guarantee that you are actually ovulating, nor is it a reliable tracking method if you are trying to avoid becoming pregnant or while trying to conceive.
Ovulation is best confirmed in conjunction with the following tools and methods:
- Ovulation tests
- Testing luteinizing hormone daily after your period ends to find your LH peak
- Tracking basal body temperature (BBT) for ovulation confirmation
Tracking ovulation through the means of ovulation tests in addition to observing clinical signs like spotting, gives a more in-depth look at what is happening in your body each cycle. Ovulation tests detect LH levels in the urine. LH is the hormone that surges right before the release of an egg. Testing daily to identify your LH surge helps to predict when ovulation will most likely happen each month.
While your body is capable of communicating signs of increased fertility, it does not always result in successful ovulation. Charting your BBT daily, in addition to LH testing, is important because it can actually confirm ovulation did occur. During the luteal phase (after ovulation), basal body temperature increases indicating that progesterone is now dominant as opposed to estrogen. We want this progesterone dominance because not only does it confirm ovulation has occurred, it supports early pregnancy!
To efficiently track BBT, you’ll need a basal body temperature thermometer. After sleeping for at least 3 consecutive hours, check your temperature immediately upon waking, before getting out of bed. Try to temp at the same time each day to ensure accuracy, and look for the spike in temperature that should occur within 1-3 days after ovulation.
Understand your ovulation symptoms
Using ovulation tests to predict when you will ovulate – in addition to recognizing your body’s ovulation signs – is helpful because they are 99% effective at detecting your fertile window which allows you to time intercourse more efficiently to get pregnant faster. By testing each day after your period ends, you increase your chances of pregnancy by two menstrual cycles compared to those who do not use ovulation tests.
Studies have also shown that tracking your cycle with an app increases your likelihood of pregnancy! By using the Premom app, you have the ability to track various symptoms of ovulation and access to the in-app camera that will read your ovulation tests for you. Members can access a physician-designed cycle analysis report and cycle comparison report that can identify unique cycle patterns for better ovulation prediction in future cycles. Using these tools, you can even share this information with your doctor or healthcare professional so that they can determine the best plan for you.
When should I be concerned about ovulation bleeding?
If you have noticed heavy bleeding unrelated to your period with or without any symptoms – such as cramping – that make activities of daily living difficult, it’s a good idea to reach out to your doctor as it could be an indicator of an underlying health condition. Tracking your cycle can help you identify irregularities and help you become more in tune with your body. Take charge of your menstrual health and your fertility today! We are always here to support – wherever you may be on your fertility journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ovulation bleeding vs implantation bleeding; what's the difference?
Although both last around 1-2 days in length, implantation bleeding typically occurs 6-10 days after ovulation and is a light brown or light pink colored discharge, while ovulation bleeding occurs near or on ovulation day and appears as a light pink or red color.
Does bleeding during ovulation mean you're pregnant?
Bleeding during ovulation is not an indicator that you are pregnant. This may be a sign that an egg has been released due to an increase in luteinizing hormone (LH) and you should use a method like ovulation testing and/or basal body temperature tracking to confirm you are actually ovulating.
Can ovulation bleeding be heavy?
Ovulation bleeding should be very light spotting and only last around 1-2 days in length. This is different from your menstrual period, which is heavier in flow and lasting anywhere from 3-7 days in length. A typical period bleed would require a pad, tampon or menstrual cup, where an ovulation bleed would not.
Heather Frame is a compassionate Women's Health nurse. She specializes in obstetrics, postpartum, newborn care, and lactation counseling. She is committed to providing women the support they need to achieve pregnancy and thereafter. As a personal user of Premom, she can attest to how important charting your cycles is in conjunction with achieving pregnancy. She would love to help you navigate your fertility journey. Schedule a consultation with Nurse Heather right through your Premom app!
Dasharathy SS, et al. “Menstrual bleeding patterns among regularly menstruating women.” Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Mar 15;175(6):536-45. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr356.
Johnson, Sarah, et al. “Increased Likelihood of Pregnancy Using an App-Connected Ovulation Test System: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Women’s Health. Jan 2020. 84-90. http://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2019.7850
Su Hsiu-Wei, et al. “Detection of ovulation, a review of currently available methods.” Bioeng Transl Med. 2017 May 16;2(3):238-246. doi: 10.1002/btm2.10058.