Spotting: When and why it can occur

The most important message upfront: Almost every woman experiences intermenstrual bleeding and spotting outside of their regular menstrual cycle at some point in their lives. And in the vast majority of cases, the causes are harmless.

We explain the difference from your period and how and when breakthrough bleeding can occur.

What is spotting?

Let's start with the definition because the terms spotting and intermenstrual bleeding are often confused. In short: intermenstrual bleeding is a general term for all bleeding that occurs outside of the regular menstrual period.

Spotting is one of the most common forms of intermenstrual bleeding and refers to a specific type of bleeding. The blood during spotting is usually brownish and has a slightly slimy consistency, unlike the reddish menstrual blood. During your period, you are perfectly protected with our period underwear.

But there are other ways to distinguish them. While the regular menstrual bleeding can last up to seven days, spotting usually lasts only one to three days. It is called spotting because the vaginal discharge is usually light. With our femtis discharge underwear, you can stay safe and dry.

Our tip for spotting: If you are frequently surprised by intermenstrual bleeding or spotting, simply use period underwear. These washable panties look like regular underwear, are comfortable, and have an absorbency of up to nine tampons. This way, you won't have any accidents in your daily life.

What can be the cause of spotting?

There are various causes of spotting during the menstrual cycle. The most common reasons are hormonal or organic, which can also influence the cycle length.

Intermenstrual Bleeding: Hormonal Causes

In most cases, spotting is associated with hormonal fluctuations during the cycle. For example, many women experience slight spotting during ovulation, which is known as ovulation bleeding.

During puberty and menopause, the female body is subjected to significant hormonal changes, which can also lead to spotting. Breakthrough bleeding can occur, for example, if the birth control pill is not taken as prescribed or if it is not properly dosed for your body. In such cases, your gynecologist can provide guidance and support.

On the other hand, if the hormone progesterone is not adequately produced by the body, it is referred to as luteal phase deficiency. This hormone is responsible for building up the uterine lining after ovulation to sustain a pregnancy. A shortened second half of the menstrual cycle or spotting are typical signs of luteal phase deficiency. Women with luteal phase deficiency often struggle with unfulfilled fertility desires.

Organic causes of spotting

Spotting can also have organic causes. For example, they can be a symptom of the common and often painful condition known as endometriosis. Spotting can also occur with inflammation of the fallopian tubes or ovaries, or in cases of thyroid and liver disease. It is advisable to consult a doctor in such cases.

In women who have an intrauterine device (IUD) inserted, spotting may occur in the weeks following insertion or removal. Lastly, our mental state can also play a role: Strong emotions such as sadness, stress, or joy can affect our menstrual cycle as well.

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Spotting before the Period

As described above, the so-called ovulation bleeding usually occurs for one to three days in the middle of the cycle, often accompanied by Mittelschmerz (ovulation pain). However, spotting can also occur shortly before the period. This spotting at the end of the luteal phase is also known as premenstrual spotting.

By the way, spotting doesn't always have to occur as intermenstrual bleeding. Even the regular period can be a form of spotting, although this is very rare. In such cases, it is referred to as hypomenorrhea, which is a weak and very short menstrual bleeding.

Spotting after the Period

Postmenstrual bleeding, on the other hand, occurs directly after the period and is light brownish in color. It can last up to three days. In general, there is usually no need to worry about occasional occurrences of intermenstrual bleeding.

However, if you experience increased bleeding after your menstruation, we recommend consulting with your gynecologist to determine the cause and exclude any more serious medical triggers.

Spotting despite taking the pill

Even when taking the contraceptive pill, occasional spotting may occur. This is often attributed to hormonal changes.

If you have just started taking the pill or switched to a different brand, your hormones need time to adjust. As a side effect, slight intermenstrual bleeding may occur.

Spotting during Pregnancy

Many pregnant women experience spotting in the first weeks and months, which can understandably cause concern, but is not necessarily a cause for worry.

For example, it can be so-called "implantation bleeding" when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. This can cause harmless, light injuries to the uterine lining.

And even in the months that follow, there may be light bleeding. The reason is that the body continues to produce hormones for cycle regulation. However, these episodes of spotting are not menstrual bleeding.

To alleviate concerns about an ectopic pregnancy or a potential miscarriage, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider regarding any occurring bleeding. It could also have a serious underlying cause, such as a placental abruption. In such cases, the bleeding is usually heavier and dark red.

Tips for Dealing with Spotting

Regardless of whether you are pregnant, going through menopause, or still a young woman, if your spotting is causing you concern or if it becomes more severe, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare provider to identify the cause. Prior to the appointment, document the frequency and duration of your bleeding. This will help facilitate a prompt diagnosis.

In most cases, treatment is not required for spotting, particularly if your spotting is cycle-related. Only in certain cases, medication may need to be taken following a diagnosis.

Tip: Spotting is usually not as heavy as your period. Our recommendation for the perfect period panties for spotting: