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Can a period be like spotting? A gynaecologist answers

Published on:6 November 2021, 17:00pm IST
If spotting occurs instead of period, this doesn't necessarily mean something bad immediately. You can find out the possible causes here!
Aayushi Gupta
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period without pain
Spotting has a number of medical causes. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Let’s get it straight, ladies! All that bleeds from your vagina is not always period blood. Sometimes, it can also be spotting. But being aware instead of being confused, will save you a lot of mental peace, we say! 

Spotting at different times in the cycle and particularly before a period starts is a relatively common occurrence. However, this leads to a great deal of confusion among some women about whether or not this is period blood.

spotting instead of period
Keep a track of your menstrual cycle. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Firstly, if you’re experiencing regular spotting, you should get this assessed by your doctor. Because spotting on a regular basis can be a sign of infection, hormonal issues, and even some other serious health problems. Otherwise, introduce yourself to ‘what exactly is spotting’ so that you can better differentiate between spotting and period

Let us help you a little.

What is spotting?

Spotting is defined as any abnormal vaginal bleeding that happens outside your period and is light enough to not need protection (like a pad or tampon or any other period products). Admittedly, that’s a bit of a vague definition because many people may still want to use a pad or liner if they’re spotting. But any sort of bleeding when you’re not on your period is considered spotting. 

Light bleeding, right before and after your period, is not spotting. It’s just the start or end of your period.

When HealthShots got in touch with Dr Shallu Kakkar, additional director, obstetrics and gynaecology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur, she shared, “Spotting, if happens post sexual contact, then you need to have a gynae checkup for pap smear test as any cervical erosion needs to be checked and treatment is needed accordingly.”

Spotting versus periods: what’s the difference?

So what’s the difference anyway? Dr Kakkar explains this for you. She says:

  • While menstrual bleeding has a regular schedule, spotting is not due to a woman’s monthly period
  • Spotting may happen after or before a period
  • Periods have a predictable bleeding pattern, spotting does not
  • Menstruation is accompanied by other symptoms like a cramp or change in hormones or breast tenderness. One does not go through these symptoms during spotting. 
spotting instead of period
Check these signs to track your periods. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
What causes spotting?

Sometimes you might notice spots of vaginal bleeding when you’re not on your periods. Most of the time, this spotting is nothing to worry about. It can be triggered by a variety of factors. Some causes of spotting are:

  • Ovulation
  • Birth control or contraceptive methods
  • Implantation—when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus, it may cause bleeding that appears like spotting
  • Pregnancy
  • Premenopause
  • Trauma such as sexual assault
  • Uterine fibroids may grow in the vagina that also causes spotting
  • Stress can also cause spotting
Should you consider spotting as a period?

No, women know when they get their period and how long it will last. Any bleeding outside the cycle is spotting and not period, says Dr Kakkar.

Aayushi Gupta Aayushi Gupta

Candid, outspoken, but prudent--Aayushi is exploring her place in media world.