What's spotting?

Spotting is any bleeding from the vagina that is not due to a woman’s monthly period. Some women also refer to the light bleeding before and after a period as spotting.

Menstrual bleeding occurs roughly every 28 days in non-pregnant women. Each month, the uterine lining thickens to prepare for pregnancy. If a woman does not get pregnant, the uterus sheds its lining, causing a monthly period.

Some characteristics of spotting include:

  1. Irregular timing: Women may spot for a day, stop bleeding, and start again. Some women experience spotting intermittently throughout the month.
  2. Associated with predictable menstrual cycle events: Unexplained spotting is often irregular. But spotting can also occur alongside ovulation. Some women experience a day or two of light spotting every month.
  3. May be associated with injuries or other symptoms: This includes abdominal pain.
  4. Often a different color from a woman’s normal menstrual period: Some women spot brown blood. Others find that the blood from spotting is lighter, a different texture, or smells odd.
  5. May be related to hormonal birth control medication: Starting on new hormonal birth control might change the amount and timing of bleeding.