Reasons for spotting before period

Updated April 17, 2017

Spotting before your period can occur for a variety of reasons. Spotting is light bleeding experienced outside of normal menstrual periods. While many of these reasons are normal or benign, spotting is still considered to be abnormal bleeding and thus should always be checked out by a doctor.


Ovulation is unnoticeable for most women. Some women, however, notice light spotting for a day or two after ovulation. This type of spotting before the period is generally a normal byproduct of ovulation for these women.

Birth Control

Spotting is one of the most common side effects of most hormonal birth control options, including birth control pills, hormonal IUDS and the birth control shot, patch and implant. This side effect often subsides after a few months. Women sometimes also experience spotting after they stop using a particular hormonal birth control method.


Many women experience spotting in the first few months of a normal pregnancy, so spotting before an expected period may be a sign that you are pregnant. Spotting can also, however, be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy, a condition that can be life-threatening if not treated early.


Spotting before an expected period is sometimes the sign of an impending miscarriage. Since you may not suspect that you are pregnant until you miss your period, it is possible to experience miscarriage-related spotting without even realising that you've become pregnant.

Hormonal Imbalance

Spotting can also be the result of hormonal imbalances other than those caused by pregnancy or birth control. For instance, your body may be producing too much oestrogen or not enough progesterone, possibly due to a thyroid problem or from taking certain medications.

Serious Conditions

Spotting before your period is sometimes a sign of an underlying condition such as uterine fibroids or polyps, ovarian cysts or cervical or uterine cancer. While rare, these conditions can be serious and may require treatment.

When to See Your Doctor

You should consult your doctor if you experience any spotting between your periods. While your spotting may be perfectly normal, it's important to rule out pregnancy or any underlying conditions. If you experience very heavy bleeding between periods, contact your doctor immediately.

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About the Author

Meghan Slocum has a bachelor's degree in English from Whitman College. In the past she's written for Whitman College's newspaper and organizations that she interned for, including Breathe California, Blossom Birth and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.