SPOTTING BEFORE PERIOD: An average menstrual cycle can last anywhere from 21 – 35 days. Some women experience longer cycles, while some experience shorter ones. A menstrual cycle can be calculated from the first day of bleeding of one period, to the last day before starting to bleed on the next period. Usually, menstrual bleeding lasts for 3 – 7 days in a month and can cause premenstrual symptoms.
Spotting differs from full menstrual periods. Where a woman soaks one sanitary pad within a couple of hours, it is likely a period. But when only specks of blood are experienced between two cycles, it can be called spotting. This, accompanied with bloody discharge, and can be countered with numerous remedies.
10-14% of all women experience spotting after their menstrual period.
SYMPTOMS OF SPOTTING
Spotting can be anything, from a red dot on your underwear to feeling cramps in the abdomen and bleeding without cause.
Spotting can occur throughout the day. It can be light pink or brown discharge and can happen any time between one’s cycle. Spotting can look dangerous, but seldom leads to serious diseases.
Brown, pink or bright red spotting is harmless, but black or sudden, heavy spotting can indicate health complications and should be discussed with a registered Ob/Gyn.
WHAT CAUSES SPOTTING BEFORE PERIOD
Stress can cause an imbalance in the hormonal composition in one’s body. One should look out for physical as well as mental causes of stress when looking to diagnose reasons for spotting. Mental stress can be associated with depression, anxiety, insomnia or psychological disorders. Physical stress on the body is inflicted by sudden weight gain or loss, intense dieting, illness lack of nutrition, and over exercising.
Stress on students due to examinations or work-load can also result in stress spotting or irregularity in menstrual bleeding due to hormone imbalances. Common indicators of stress related imbalances are break-outs, acne, rashes, spotting, fatigue, or lowered immunity.
Ovulation is the process by which the follicles produced in the ovaries mature, and the most dominant one travels through the fallopian tubes in order to be fertilized around the 10th day of a cycle. When this egg is released, the uterine wall prepares itself by thickening for the impending implantation of this fertile egg.
Some women complain of Mittelschmerz Pain or pain in the middle during ovulation. This pain is caused when the follicle ruptures from the ovaries and travels down the fallopian tubes. Mittelschmerz pain also causes ovulation bleeding in rare cases which can look like spotting two weeks before one’s period.
Implantation happens when the fertile egg attaches itself to the uterine wall. This happens approximately six to twelve days from ovulation or fertilization. Implantation bleeding also occurs around one week before a menstrual period may be expected. The closer the spotting is to the due date of your period, the less likely it is implantation bleeding
Implantation bleeding will not be fresh blood as it may take the drops of blood to travel down. It might be brown or dark red. Spotting after one’s period will result in full bleeding within 24 hours, but implantation bleeding will cause a pregnancy.
Hormonal Birth Control
Women who change their hormonal birth control or form of contraception are likely to experience some spotting soon after this change is made.
Using a new brand of hormonal contraceptive pills can cause spotting right before or after one’s period for the first few months. This can also be caused if one is prescribed a higher dosage of oestrogen hormone. Missing hormonal dailies for a few days can also result in spotting after one has experienced their period.
The first few days of using an intrauterine device (IUD), with or without the synthetic hormone progestin; some women continue to experience spotting between periods. The same is experienced if one takes a birth control injection or implant.
Emergency Contraceptives or Plan B Pills
Emergency contraceptives which combine the use of synthetic hormone progestin and oestrogen can cause spotting between two periods.
It is the high level of hormones ingested with the pill which causes an imbalance in the natural hormones and causes spotting. This bleeding will be light and will stop within 24 hours. If accompanied by spells of dizziness or fainting, a registered medical practitioner must be contacted as soon as possible.
Menarche and Menopause
Young girls who experience their first periods can expect some spotting right after their periods. This is because their bodies are not accustomed to menstrual bleeding. Some residue of the uterine wall may take time for the body to expel and when it finally happens, we perceive it as spotting.
Women who are over the age of 45 also experience similar symptoms as their bodies are beginning to wane in their supply of adequate hormones to maintain fertility. This reduced supply of oestrogen causes spotting in some cases, and shorter periods with light bleeding in some others.
Fibroids and Cysts
Fibroids are small benign tumours which develop in the uterine wall. Doctors do not know the cause of these, but attribute overweight women to be more prone to it than others. Fibroids are hard to detect, but can be diagnosed earlier if the following symptoms are presently being experienced:
- Sharp pain in the abdomen
- Pelvic pressure
- Frequent urination
- Heavy menses
- Painful intercourse
Upon rupturing, these fibroids can cause bleeding which looks like spotting and cause infertility, if not treated.
Cysts are fluid filled sacks which develop on the ovaries and cause polycystic ovarian syndrome or disease when in a large number. Women who suffer from PCOS experience regular spotting accompanied by excess hair growth, amenorrhea, infertility etc.
Vaginal atrophy is most common in premenopausal women. This is because the closer to menopause a woman is, the shorter her supply of hormones like oestrogen are. This sudden drop in oestrogen levels can render her defenceless against dryness caused in the genitalia.
This dryness results in spotting-like bleeding after or before a period. It also results in painful intercourse or bleeding after intercourse.
If one experiences such symptoms over the age of 45, they are advised to contact a registered medical practitioner.
Other Medical Reasons
Urethral prolapse, thyroid disorders, cervical cancer, endometritis etc. all have spotting as a common symptom.
Low supply of thyroid hormones can cause other symptoms such as
- Constant fatigue,
- Irregular body temperature,
- Significant weight gain,
- Hair loss, and
- Neck pain.
Urethral prolapse is caused when a doughnut shaped protrusion is seen obstructing the urethral opening. This causes unnecessary vaginal bleeding. This only happens in rare cases, and may be misdiagnosed. Symptoms of a urethral prolapse only begin to show many years after it begins. The symptoms include experiencing difficulty in urinating and involuntary release of urine, as well as uncontrollable pain during sexual intercourse.
If a person experiences severe post coital bleeding often, their bodies might be indicating the development of cervical cancer. Premenopausal women are more prone to cervical cancer and endometritis – or cancer of the uterine lining. Endometritis can be caused due to the aging of the uterine wall or damage done to it by hormonal supplements or childbirth.
These disorders are best diagnosed by doctors.
Prescribed Drugs which cause Spotting
Women who are prescribed anticoagulant drugs such as heparin, warfarin, clopidogrel, dabigatran, etc. to combat blood clots obscuring the blood flow in the body, complain of spotting often after their period. In addition to the dissolution of the existing blood clots, these drugs can lead to spotting before period or heavy intermenstrual bleeding.
Postpartum and Miscarriages
Women who have recently given birth are advised by their practitioners on how to handle spotting in case it occurs. This spotting can continue during the first few menstrual cycles postpartum.
Women whose bodies are about to experience miscarriage always indicate this through spotting not more than two weeks prior to happening. This kind of spotting leads to heavy bleeding which signifies a miscarriage. Women who are trying to conceive should be well versed in these indications of their bodies.
REMEDIES FOR SPOTTING BEFORE PERIOD
Remedies for this can only help in curbing the spotting, and are not permanent solutions.
A woman who experiences spotting due to irregular intake of hormonal birth control can speak with her doctor and regulate the quantity of hormones according to the intensity of her problems. One must not arbitrarily choose contraceptive pills.
Women who use IUD’s often experience spotting from the time they begin using it, till the very end. They are then advised to switch to ingesting birth control pills as these are less likely to have side effects such as spotting before their period.
Regular Pap Smears
Pap smears can be undergone at a doctor’s office. This is the most effective way to catch cervical cancer at a nascent stage.
During a pap smear or a cervical smear, the doctor gently removes a few cells from the cervix and observe it under a microscope to check for abnormal cancerous cell growth. Regular pap smears are a good way to keep a check on cervical cancer which is mostly signified by irregular spotting before one’s menstrual period.
Limiting use of Pain Killers
Some painkillers such as aspirin and dispirin contain blood thinning compounds. Women who experience spotting before their menstrual periods should avoid using these painkillers frequently as this can serve to worsen their condition further.
Women who are overweight are more likely to suffer from menstrual disorders. Irregular bleeding or spotting before period can be curbed by regular exercise and a good diet. Women living below poverty line or who have nutrition disorders often are more prone to menstrual problems.
Menopausal women who are overweight are more likely to have cancerous infections and therefore must maintain a healthy work-out regimen.
Stress spotting can be cured just as quickly as it is contracted. Relaxation and meditation are advised to women who are prone to high levels of stress. Pubescent girls can practice relaxation techniques by joining Yoga groups or meditation circles.
A simple way to combat this stress is by taking some time out for oneself. This can be an hour a day, for those who can maintain it, or one day in a week of total relaxation.
For a more relaxed sleep, one is advised to turn off electronic devises two hours prior to sleeping. Sprinkling lavender essential oil on the pillowcase has proven to enhance relaxed sleep. Even soaking in a warm bath after sprinkling lavender oil in it can relax the body and prevent spotting.
Ginger has been long fabled to have immunizing qualities. However, it is the heat of ginger relaxes the pelvic area and soothes vaginal bleeding. A good way to incorporate ginger in one’s diet is by drinking ginger tea.
How to make Ginger Tea:
- First, heat a cup of water.
- Add a small amount of grated or chopped pieces of ginger, and add a tea bag.
- Let it sit for five minutes before mixing, straining and drinking.
- For taste, honey can be added to this tea.
Cinnamon possesses the ability to curb pelvic cramps, bleeding as well as help with weight loss in women who suffer from PCOS.
Cinnamon sticks can either be chewed on during the day or infused in water. This is a sure shot way of curbing unnecessary bleeding and irregularity in bleeding between periods.
Best ways of consuming cinnamon:
- Infusing in warm water and drinking throughout the day.
- Chewing on sticks twice a day for ten minutes each.
- Adding pure cinnamon powder as a mild spice in food.
Cinnamon is so beneficial because it increases the body’s resistance to insulin and slows down the breaking up of carbohydrates in the body. It also helps in better digestion of blood sugar or glucose.
Parsley contains antioxidants which can regulate blood flow. Parsley is used as a detox remedy, diuretic, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agent all across the world. It can help with the following conditions:
- Bladder infection
- Digestive problems, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Kidney stones
- Bad breath
- Acid Reflux
- Poor immunity
Here is a nifty way to use parsley to regulate bleeding:
- Chop parsley and keep ready with apple, cinnamon powder, fennel seeds and lemon.
- Add ingredients to mixer.
- Mix with water and honey (to taste).
- Once in smoothie form, transfer to a cup and drink!
Women must keep in mind the following precautions:
- Hormonal birth control must not be tampered with unless under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner.
- If spotting or other symptoms discussed in the article continue for over three months, a doctor must be called to diagnose the issue.
- No home remedy guarantees immediate results. Dietary supplements and increase in nutrition can help curb this problem steadily over a long term.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Women over the age of 45 experience many symptoms which lead eventually to menopause. These symptoms accompany spotting right after one’s period. These can include fatigue, hot flashes, hair loss, dry scalp, dizziness, weight gain, vaginal atrophy, sleep disorders etc. No medication should be taken for menopause unless prescribed by doctor.
Does ovulation cause spotting?
Yes, ovulation does sometimes cause spotting. The spotting is caused because of the rupture of the follicle out of the ovaries and into the fallopian tubes. This spotting is light and does not prolong for more than a day or two. This spotting is also accompanied by a sharp pain in the abdominal region and can be termed as ovulation pain. Only 5-10% of women experience this pain.
How often does spotting mean pregnancy?
Not often. Spotting which occurs after the egg implants itself onto the uterine wall is called implantation bleeding. This blood takes time to drop down from the vaginal cancel and reach your underwear. Due to this, the blood may have aged and can be dark brown or muddy coloured.
This bleeding differs from miscarriage bleeding because spotting before miscarriage is usually of bright red blood, which is fresh.
Women who experience spotting before their period usually have nothing to worry about. Keeping track of their menses, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and not exposing themselves to risks of sexually transmitted diseases are all important factors to be taken care of, in order to prevent long term problems. Regular visits to the doctor, if a woman is over the age of 45, should be scheduled. This could help in early diagnosis of diseases.