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What Causes Spotting?

Spotting between periods is common so don’t panic.

Spotting refers to the drops of light pink/brown blood you find on your underwear before, during, or after your menstrual cycle. It’s not as heavy your normal period and can occur at any time which can be surprising, especially if you don’t know what’s causing it.

What Causes Spotting?

There are several reasons why you could experience spotting during the month and whilst it can sometimes be a sign of something serious, it can also just be your body’s way of telling you to slow down.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common causes of spotting:

  1. Stress: This is probably one of the most popular reasons for making your body go berserk. Stress causes the release of a hormone called cortisol which is used for the fight or flight response in dangerous situations. If you are too stressed (even in safe situations), this hormone is released constantly and causes a hormonal imbalance in your body which will affect your menstrual cycle. It can cause irregular or missed periods and spotting as well which can be alarming and cause more stress resulting in a vicious cycle. If you notice that you experience spotting around the time you are stressed, you may have correctly identified the cause.
  2. Ovulation: Once your period is over, your body begins producing another egg. Ovulation occurs once the egg is released into your fallopian tube (around day 14 of your cycle but this varies from woman to woman). Sometimes, during the 12-24 hours in which your egg is awaiting fertilisation, spotting can occur. Women may find pink or light brown spots mixed with some white discharge on their underwear during this time, signalling ovulation.
  3. Early sign of pregnancy: If fertilised, your egg will travel back up the fallopian tube to the uterus where it attaches to the wall and begins growing. Sometimes, women will experience some slight bleeding (or spotting) during this occurrence and this is known as implantation bleeding. It can sometimes be accompanied by slight cramping in the lower abdominal area which can last from a few hours to a day or two. This is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy; however, not all pregnant women will experience implantation bleeding.
  4. Your period has just ended: Sometimes, spotting can occur after your period has just ended. This happens when your uterus still has a little lining left to shed, but as long as you don’t experience heavy bleeding or your next period too soon, you don’t have to worry.
  5. Birth control changes: A common side effect of birth control in women is spotting. When first starting a pack of oral contraceptives, spotting may occur, and it can last a day or two. However, after a few weeks, it should be gone. Starting, stopping, or missing a pill can cause your estrogen level to change slightly which can cause spotting.
  6. Antibiotics: Generally, antibiotics won’t cause any change to your period but if you’re on the pill, it might be a different story. Antibiotics can prevent the pill from being properly absorbed by your body which means that it’s almost like you missed a pill and this can lead to spotting. If you are on the pill and taking antibiotics, it is recommended you use extra protection when having sex as the pill may not be effective during this time.
  7. Uterine fibroids: These are benign tumours that grow in and around the uterus wall and spotting is one of the main symptoms. Other symptoms include painful sex, lower back pain, and infertility. If you experience spotting with no plausible cause, then you should visit your gynaecologist to rule out uterine fibroids.

Spotting can be a cause for worry especially when it happens for the first time. There are many causes for spotting so before panicking and jumping to conclusions, monitor your situation, make notes, and see if you can identify the reason for your spotting. If you are still unsure and it persists, then make an appointment with Dr Neil Wallman to find out the cause.

Learn more about spotting and periods or get a professional examination by making an appointment with Dr Neil Wallman. To make you booking, call (07) 5598 0300 or complete the enquiry form on our Contact Us page.

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