What is spotting?
Have you ever had light bleeding outside of your period? This is called spotting. We explain to you what are the causes of this phenomenon and what to do when it happens to you...
What is spotting and how to identify it?
Spotting is much more common than you might think. Often confused with menstruation, these blood losses are however very different. Bleeding from spotting is generally less abundant. They are also painless and much darker than menstruation. These light bleedings are generally not serious. But if this happens to you often, it is advisable to talk to your doctor.
What are the causes of spotting?
Many women are, one day or another, affected by spotting. Usually, it is on the side of hormones that we look for the causes, but other factors can give rise to this bleeding...
Light bleeding caused by an imbalance of hormones
At the origin of spotting, there is often a problem of hormones. An imbalance in estrogen and/or progesterone levels can cause light bleeding during the menstrual cycle.
This hormonal imbalance can be caused by many elements such as:
Contraception: if you notice that you have light bleeding during the menstrual cycle, it is possible that the dosage of your hormonal contraception (your pill, your IUD, even your implant) no longer suits you. Spotting can also occur when changing contraception. Many women experience this bleeding in particular when switching to an IUD (also called an intrauterine device or IUD), whether copper or hormonal. In such situations, it is important to speak with your gynecologist so that he/she can change your current contraception or its dosage.
Stress: Hormonal shifts caused by stress can lead to spotting.
The onset of menopause: Spotting can be one of the symptoms of premenopause, as the body begins a hormonal transition that disrupts the menstrual cycle. Here, we are talking about metrorrhagia or intermenstrual bleeding. In the absence of periods for twelve consecutive months, the premenopausal phase is considered to be over. Indeed, the definitive cessation of menstruation marks the entry into the menopause phase.
Other factors, such as jet lag can lead to these hormonal imbalances and therefore be the basis of spotting.
First period spotting
Spotting can also announce the arrival of the very first period. The bleeding is then brown in color and is not continuous. To avoid stains, it is advisable to wear a panty liner during this transition period.
spotting during pregnancy
At the time of implantation, that is to say when the embryo is implanted in the uterus, it is possible to have light bleeding. Indeed, when the embryo buries itself in the endometrium (the wall of the uterus), the uterine lining is dug, which generates slight blood loss. This is called implantation bleeding or implantation spotting. Rest assured right away: it is not serious.
That said, pregnancy spotting can also be symptomatic of an ectopic pregnancy. If this happens to you, it is therefore important to talk about it with your doctor or with your gynecologist.
Be careful, spotting should not be confused with the anniversary periods that can occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. In general, this light (or sometimes heavy) bleeding appears on the expected date of menstruation, although the pregnancy is progressing normally. The causes of birthday periods can be:
- The nidation ;
- an intimate relationship;
- boiling hormones;
- a small hematoma in the uterus.
Bleeding caused by ovulation
Spotting can also occur during ovulation. When the oocyte is expelled, the rupture of the follicle can sometimes be sudden and cause the rupture of a small blood vessel. This then causes very light bleeding. While this may sound worrisome, spotting during ovulation is actually quite benign.
Spotting caused by a gynecological pathology
Spotting can also be one of the symptoms of a gynecological pathology such as:
- a fibroid (benign tumor located on the wall of the uterus which can be accompanied by bleeding and pelvic pain);
- endometriosis (gynecological pathology associated with metrorrhagia and pain in the lower abdomen);
- a uterine polyp (usually a benign growth lodged under the wall or in the muscles of the uterus which can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and light bleeding outside of your period);
- ovarian cysts (tumor containing fluid causing light bleeding outside of menstruation occurring at any age);
- uterine cancer (bleeding outside of menstruation and post-menopausal bleeding are symptoms of cervical cancer or endometrial cancer);
- a sexually transmitted infection (salpingitis, fallopian tube infection and/or severe inflammation of the lining of the womb or cervix can cause bleeding).
For all these reasons, it is important to consult a doctor or a gynecologist quickly. Especially if these bleedings are frequent or prolonged.
When should you consult in case of spotting?
Although spotting is often mild, it is important to see a doctor if:
- you often bleed outside of your period and/or this bleeding lasts for a long time;
- you think you are pregnant;
- you have had unprotected sex;
- you think your hormonal contraception or copper IUD is the cause of the spotting.
Only your doctor will be able to prescribe the necessary examinations for you to make a diagnosis and offer you an appropriate treatment.
And don't forget, in case of spotting, you can also use your period panties to protect yourself!