Is There Such Thing As Spotting During Ovulation

Spotting During Ovulation

What Is Spotting During Ovulation?

If you notice spotting about half way through your cycle or 14 days from the end of your expected period then this could indicate that it is in fact ovulation spotting. Spotting during ovulation is often the result of the egg leaving the follicle or because of the changing hormone levels around the time of ovulation. It can be a sign that you are fertile and are ovulating normally. It typically occurs the 2-3 days around the day of ovulation, and consists of a small amount of blood or spotting that is either pink or a light brown in colour.

Who knew that a few drops of blood could cause such panic? I certainly didn’t, until it happened to me. When I noticed those red splotches on my panties, a wave of panic raced through my veins.

Midway through one of my cycles when my partner and I were trying to conceive, I noticed a few blood spots on my underwear. Alarm bells sounded. It seems as if my body is suddenly working against me – stripping me of all of my hopes and dreams.

Was I ovulating?

Was I miscarrying?

Or was this a sign that I couldn’t get pregnant at all?

One thing was for sure I needed to know what it meant….

Is this Mid-Cycle Bleeding/Discharge Normal?

The first question I had was whether or not this light brown/pinkish bleeding was normal, commonly known as “spotting”.

In the vast majority of cases, mid-cycle spotting is not a problem. It’s quite common, and many women don’t even realize that it’s been happening until they start monitoring their menstrual cycle with a greater attention to detail – which is often the case when a woman is trying to conceive. Typically this mid-cycle spotting is caused by the changes that are occurring in your body during the time of ovulation. 1

Some fertility and women’s health researchers have also found that spotting during ovulation may be a positive fertility indicator and a sign that everything is working as it should because it indicates an egg has been successfully released. 2 If this is the first cycle that you’ve noticed some spotting, don’t panic. The changes and different fertility signs that happen in your body every month tend to go unnoticed until you’re suddenly focus on the signs and watching for every little thing.

For me though I was the type of woman who couldn’t just let that be the end of it, I needed to understand what was really going on here. So my next question was….

What Spotting During Ovulation?

Thankfully, my doctor took my phone call and explained that ovulation spotting isn’t anything to fear. As a matter of fact, it can be a sign of fertility.

Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from the ovary and begins to move towards the fallopian tube, in preparation to be fertilized. 3 This typically happens mid-way through your menstrual cycle. So if you have a 28 day menstrual cycle then ovulation normally occurs around day 14, but this can vary depending on a woman’s hormonal balance. 4

There are two reasons for why you might notice some bleeding around the time of ovulation:

  1. The Egg Leaving the Follicle: For ovulation to occur, the luteinizing hormone goes to work on the ovarian follicle’s surface, making it weaker so that the egg can get out. When the follicle finally ruptures and the egg starts travelling down the fallopian tube, a small amount of blood may also be released. This blood is what most women see as ovulation bleeding or spotting.
  2. Changing Hormone Levels: In other cases bleeding around the time of ovulation could be caused by the changing hormone levels in your body around the time of ovulation. As your body prepares to ovulate, there will be an increase in estrogren levels that triggers the LH surge that signals the mature egg to burst from the follicle. However, in some cases the following sharp drop in estrogen after ovulation and the fact that there is little or a slow rise of progesterone can cause the lining can leak a small amount of blood until your progesterone levels have increased sufficiently.

If the blood you notice isn’t the usual red colour of your period, but more of a brownish or pinkish colour then don’t be alarmed. This is perfectly normal as well. This is normally caused by the presence of older blood, which when it leaves your body it turns into brown instead of the usual red shade. Or the fact that the red bloods colour is being diluted in the clear egg white cervical fluid being released around the time of ovulation.

Experienced anywhere between days 11-21 in a woman’s cycle depending on how long your cycle is and when in your cycle do you ovulate, ovulation spotting can range from a few drops of blood on your panties to what some women may consider to be a very light flow. It only lasts a day or two and is no cause for alarm.

What Does Ovulation Spotting Look Like?

The news from my OBGYN was good: ovulation spotting is healthy. “It means that your hormones are fluctuating and the uterus is doing its job,” she reassured me. Despite this explanation, I was still a bit worried that what I was experiencing was not normal. Understanding my concern, she told me to look for these signs.

Identifying ovulation spotting is a matter of looking at the colour and amount of blood as well as how long the spotting lasts and whether it is accompanied by any other fertility signs.

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  • Color of Blood: Spotting during ovulation usually results in a very small amount of blood that is light pink or brown, while your typical menstrual flow takes on a bright red look.
  • Level of Flow: It is normally only present for a day and while some women report a light flow of blood during ovulation for many it may be as fleeting as noticing a little streak of pink or brown discharge when you wipe.
  • Timing of Bleeding: Ovulation spotting occurs around the time of ovulation, more specifically the day of ovulation or the 1-2 days post ovulation if the blood is slow to be expelled from your body. So if you have 28 day cycle between periods then ovulation typically occurs on day 14, which is when your ovulation spotting will occur. However, this ovulation day can vary from woman to woman based on the length of her cycle and the length of her follicular phase.

She also said that if you notice some of the other signs of ovulation along with light bleeding or spotting then it would be a strong sign that any spotting is the result of ovulation occurring. Here are some of the other signs you should be looking out for:

  • Cervical Mucus: Typically any bleeding during ovulation is accompanied by clear watery cervical fluid that will be stretchy and will resemble egg whites. During this time your production of cervical fluid is at its peak. As a consequence any blood will potentially be watered down by the presence of the clear cervical fluid.
  • Basal Body Temperature – If you are tracking your basal body temperature (BBT) throughout the month and you notice a roughly a 0.25° C or 0.5°F rise in your BBT then this is a very clear sign that ovulation has occurred. 5
  • Ovulation Prediction Kit – If you have recently used a ovulation prediction kit in the last 1-3 days and it said you were in your fertile period then it is likely that ovulation has occurred.
  • Other Signs of Ovulation: If you notice other symptoms such as ovulation pain in the lower abdomen, breast tenderness and sensitivity, increased libido or energy level.

What if I Don’t Notice Any Spotting During Ovulation?

With all this talk about how spotting is an indication that you just ovulated you might be getting a bit concerned if you have never noticed any ovulation spotting or only notice it sometimes. I know it crossed my mind…

Here’s the good news, there’s no need to worry!

That is perfectly normal and healthy too! Most women never experience ovulation spotting or only experience it very rarely, and they are just as healthy. Just as everybody looks different on the outside everyone’s body works slightly differently on the inside as well. The most important thing is to listen to your body on a regular basis and track what it is telling you so you know when something is up.

Differences Between Ovulation Spotting and Implantation Bleeding

When I first noticed that splotch of red a few weeks before my period was due, I never considered that it might be telling me that I might be pregnant. If you are like me, you may not know that you can bleed a bit when pregnancy occurs. This was news to me!

When trying to conceive, spotting between the time you ovulated and the normal time you would have your period can be a sign of a pregnancy – this is called Implantation Bleeding. However it is easy to confuse ovulation spotting with implantation bleeding. The first is a sign that you are in your fertile period, while the other is often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Not every pregnant woman will experience it; some will and some won’t.

While implantation bleeding is also usually light pink or brown tinged, the amount of blood may be slightly more than with spotting during ovulation and implantation bleeding may continue for a few days. The most important difference, however, is at what point the bleeding occurs in your cycle.

Ovulation spotting normally happens close to mid-cycle for most woman, but this can differ by a few days depending on your normal ovulation time. Implantation bleeding, on the other hand, happens around the time you would expect your period — a week or two after ovulation. 6 Ovulation spotting is a sign that the egg has been released by the follicle, implantation bleeding is an early sign of pregnancy.

Any time you believe there is a chance that you are pregnant, it’s a good idea to take a pregnancy test. 7  Remember, though, that if it’s very early on, you may need a blood test done in the doctor’s office to get a positive.

If you’re a bit confused this comparison table should help you decide if the spotting you have noticed is ovulation spotting or implantation bleeding:

Ovulation Spotting

Implantation Bleeding

When Does it Occur?
Typically occurs the 2-3 days around the day of ovulation. Example day 14 of a 28 day cycle.
When Does it Occur?
Typically occurs 6-12 days after ovulation or 1-2 days before the start of your period.
Blood Type
Small amount of blood or spotting that is typically light pink or light brown. No clots.
Blood Type
Small amount of blood or spotting that is typically light pink or light brown. No clots.
Duration
Lasts a few hours to 1-2 days.
Duration
Lasts a few hours to 1-2 days.
Cervical Fluid
Accompanied by cervical fluid that is very wet, clear, watery cervical fluid which is described to resemble raw egg whites.
Cervical Fluid
During this time there is much less cervical fluid and what is there is dry, sticky, and thick.
BBT
If you have been tracking you basal body temperature you should see a rise of 0.5°F around the time of the spotting.
BBT
If you have been tracking you basal body temperature your BBT should have been high for between 6-12 days.
What it Means
Ovulation Spotting is a sign that you are coming to the end of your fertile window.
What it Means
Implantation Bleeding is a very early sign of pregnancy.

As you probably saw from the comparison it would be very hard to spot the difference between ovulation spotting and implantation bleeding unless you make listening to your body a habit by keeping track of your cycle.

When Should I Be Concerned About Spotting Between Periods?

Anytime a woman sees blood when they aren’t supposed to be having their period and don’t what is causing it, they panic. This panic is even more acute when you are trying to conceive. Negative thoughts can start swirling in your head “is this a sign that I can’t get pregnant?”. If this happens then the first thing you should do is…

Relax!

Ovulation spotting is completely normal and happens more often than you might expect. The same is true to implantation bleeding. It’s just that women who are working towards a pregnancy become hyper vigilant and begin to notice these natural occurrences more. A spot or two of blood that you would have blown off in the past suddenly takes on a whole new meaning when you think it is impeding your chances of becoming a mother.

So, when should you begin to worry?

Don’t let a little spotting throw you into a panic. But, if you notice any of the following you should double check everything is ok with your doctor:

  1. Any abnormal bleeding between your menstrual periods that lasts for more than three days;
  2. Any abnormal spotting continues for three or more consecutive menstrual cycles;
  3. Any unusual vaginal bleeding or spotting is noticed that is different when compared to the usual pattern;
  4. If it accompanies any other abnormal symptoms such as pain or bleeding during/after intercourse, lower abdominal pain, excessively heavy periods, pain urinating, pelvic pain or foul smelling discharge;
  5. Or if you simply suspect a problem.

As abnormal spotting or bleeding can be a warning sign for some things that could need some attention:

  • Certain Medications – Certain prescription medications and over the counter medicines can cause menstrual problems by interfering with estrogen/progesterone levels or by changing how well blood clots.
  • Hormonal Birth Control – Depending on the type of hormonal birth control you use and how your body reacts to it, the effect of the hormones on your body can cause mid-cycle bleeding between periods, called “breakthrough bleeding”, as your uterine lining adjusts to the hormones. If the spotting persists then you should talk to your doctor about using a different pill or method. Also if you miss taking a pill it can cause breakthrough bleeding.
  • Uterine Fibroids – Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. The Mayo Clinic states that as many as 3 out of 4 women have uterine fibroids sometime during their lives, but most are unaware of them because they often cause no symptoms. 8 Sometimes they can cause spotting or bleeding between periods if they affect the inside of the uterus. In the rare case that they become too large and bothersome they can be surgically removed, but in most cases they can be left alone.
  • Uterine Polyps – Polyps are soft growths that can be found on the endometrium (the inside lining of the uterus). Typically these polyps are benign (non-cancerous) but in rare cases that can eventually turn cancerous. They are most common among women who are going through or have completed menopause but younger women can get them too. They may cause irregular menstrual bleeding, bleeding/spotting between menstrual periods, excessively heavy menstrual periods and bleeding after menopause. However polyps can also be removed, usually with a simpler surgery than for fibroids.
  • Hormonal Imbalances – If your hormones are out of balance then it can cause mid-cycle bleeding. This is usually the result of your estrogen/progesterone levels being out of balance which can cause heavy/irregular bleeding or bleeding between periods.

Only your doctor can tell you for sure if your fertility is at risk. So don’t hesitate to ask for help. Stress too can cause your entire system to get out of whack, and worrying about mid-cycle bleeding or panicking because you are not pregnant yet can do more harm than good. Simply meeting with your doctor to get answer can help relieve this kind of stress and make getting pregnant that much easier if you are trying to conceive.

My Number 1 Recommendation

Seeing that spotting half way through my cycle lead me to understand my body on a level I thought I never would. It was an eye opening experience and thankfully there was nothing to worry about. Chances are you it will find out the same as well! After this I made sure to keep an eye out for any spotting over the next few months and found out that I had a tiny bit of spotting in the middle of my cycle regularly. Now I know to note this when tracking my fertility signs and see it as another indicator that it’s time to make a baby instead of another source of anxiety.

My number 1 recommendation to you is to listen to your body. Hear what it is telling you, and realise the peace of mind that it will bring. Not only will you know when there is something strange going on but you will feel empowered with the new knowledge you have gained.

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References

All facts and information provided in this article has been researched using biomedical, scientifically reviewed literature from sources such as MEDLINE, the National Center for Biotechnological Information (NCBI) and the Mayo Clinic. We have tried to incorporate a variety of scientific perspectives to provide you a comprehensive and unbiased overview of current knowledge in the field.

 

  1.  J. R. Albers, S. K. Hull, R. M. Wesley, “Abnormal uterine bleeding. Am Fam Physician.” 2004;69(8):1915-26.
  2.  J. R. Albers, S. K. Hull, R. M. Wesley, “Abnormal uterine bleeding. Am Fam Physician.” 2004;69(8):1915-26.
  3. Suarez SS, Pacey AA. Sperm transport in the female reproductive tract. Human Reproduction Update. 2006.
  4.  Wilcox AJ. The timing of the “fertile window” in the menstrual cycle: day specific estimates from a prospective study. British Medical Journal. 2000;321:1259.
  5.  Thijssen A, Meier A, Panis K, Ombelet W. ‘Fertility Awareness-Based Methods’ and subfertility: a systematic review. Facts Views Vis Obgyn. 2014;6(3):113-23.
  6. Harville EW, Wilcox AJ, Baird DD, Weinberg CR. Vaginal bleeding in very early pregnancy. Hum Reprod. 2003 Sep;18(9):1944-7. PubMed PMID: 12923154.
  7. T. Rowe, “Abnormal uterine bleeding in pre-menopausal women. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.” 2013 May; 35(5)
  8. Uterine fibroids – Mayo Clinic . 2016. Uterine fibroids – Mayo Clinic.  Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/basics/definition/con-20037901.

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