Spotting Instead Of Period- Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment


Periods are considered to be an important phenomena in a woman’s life. If they come without any hassles, it is really a blessing. But with age, many biological and physiological changes taking place, sometimes there is a change in the way women get their periods. Today we are going to discuss the problem of spotting instead of period. We will discuss what is actually called a spot, what happens due to spotting, reasons that may lead to spots instead of periods and some remedies.

How to identify spotting

Spotting is extremely light vaginal bleeding or brown colored discharge that occurs between menstrual periods.  Spotting occurs due to a number of medical or biological factors. It is advisable to call up the doctor or a health-care professional if you suspect pregnancy and experience any kind of spotting or bleeding disorder or any other dark discharge.

Difference between Spotting and Regular periods 

During spotting, there is usually lighter bleeding as compared to the regular menstrual bleeding. Spotting is usually so light that there is almost no need for a pad or tampon at all. It might be reddish or brownish in color and it usually occurs when one is not having a regular period. Spotting, by itself, does not have any other symptoms that can be associated with it, but if the problem comes up as a result of some medical condition, then the patient may have certain visible and identifiable symptoms such as:

  • Irregular periods
  • Extra bleeding at the time of menstruation
  • Burning sensation or lingering pain at the time of urination
  • Strong Abdominal pain
  • Burning sensation during sexual intercourse
  • Excessive Vaginal discharge
  • Rashes and itching in the vaginal area

What can be the Possible Causes of Spotting?

When spotting occurs, it is definitely a matter of concern. But there is no need to be afraid as all spotting is not harmful. But at the same time, this issue should not be ignored as it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs attention.

Following are some of the common reasons that lead to spotting rather than regular periods:

1. Implantation bleeding

A large number of women experience the problem of spotting in their early weeks of pregnancy. Implantation bleeding is said to be a common cause of spotting in women who are in the conceivable age group. This generally happens in the early pregnancy stage, when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. This process is known as implantation, hence the term, Implantation bleeding. A woman might think of this light implantation bleeding like a regular menstrual period and may not realize that she is pregnant and take necessary precautions.

2. Birth control

A number of birth control measures may cause spotting. This mainly includes birth control pills, when they are being used for the first time. Also switching or taking birth control pills continuously may lead to spotting. Women who have an IUD (intrauterine device) for birth control also face the problem of spotting.

3. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

This is a very common condition among teenagers. The woman, in this case, has multiple cysts in her ovaries. This makes it difficult to achieve pregnancy and can also be the cause of irregular periods and spotting.

4. Fibroids

Benign growths that occur in the uterus or the cervix, such as fibroids or cervical polyps, may be a cause of irregular bleeding and spotting which women face. In such conditions, it is best to get regular checks done so as to see that the fibroids are not growing in size or increasing in number.

5. Infections

Infections, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are considered to be another possible cause for frequent spotting or bleeding. It is always advised to have safe sex and to have it only with protection unless you are planning to get pregnant. Protected sex also helps to avoid a lot of other problems.

6. Menopause

Menopausal period is the time when a woman’s hormonal levels may vary widely. This may sometimes cause spotting as well as irregular periods.


Any kind of trauma, such as physical assault or having rough sex, may cause injury to the vagina and might lead to sudden bleeding or spotting.

If there is continuous vaginal bleeding or spotting or spotting post menopause, then one needs to be examined by a doctor or a health-care professional in order to find out the reason for the problem.

Diagnosis of the reasons for Spotting

Until now, we have identified the potential causes that may lead to spotting in women. However, it is important to ascertain the primary cause that needs to be diagnosed, that women face?  Identification of the reasons for vaginal bleeding or spotting calls for a thorough examination of all the symptoms that a woman may have had. This may include information such as when bleeding or spotting occurs, what the related and associated symptoms are, for example, abdominal pain, vomiting, etc., birth control methods adopted and any kind of change in birth control medications, or history of medical conditions or any kind of infection occurred before.

For the purpose of examination, the doctor may adopt one, two or more medical examination procedures from the ones mentioned below:

  1. A pelvic examination is generally the first step of the diagnosis.
  2. A Pregnancy test is done for women of the reproductive age or those who have been trying to conceive.
  3. Diagnostic tests such as a Pap smear test or culture tests may be done.
  4. In some of the cases, blood tests or urine tests are also required.
  5. Imaging examination such as vaginal or an abdominal ultrasound might be useful in the process of diagnosing the causes of spotting or bleeding.

Treatment options for Spotting

The treatment options for spotting mainly depend on the underlying problem of the issue of spotting. Spotting is generally not considered to be serious, and hence no treatment is needed.

  • For any kind of infections, antibiotic therapy is suggested.
  • Women suffering from PCOS and desirous of becoming pregnant may be treated with fertility-enhancing drugs or by using assisted reproductive technologies such as IUI or IVF.
  • Surgery might be needed in some of the cases in order to remove the cervical polyps or uterine fibroids which are causing the problem of spotted bleeding.
  • For women who wish to have a more regular menstrual cycle, many times birth control tablets or hormonal treatments may be really helpful.

Thus, it can be seen that there are a number of reasons which can cause spotting instead of periods and the real cause for the same needs to be identified. It may be not very severe in many cases but still, it is important to get tested and diagnosed for any possible medical condition.

You must always contact a doctor or a health-care professional if you are experiencing any kind of vaginal bleeding, or spotting, if you are pregnant or if you have reached the age of menopause, or even when you face any kind of unusual bleeding, which concerns you. Do not ignore any symptoms. After all, prevention is better than cure.


Also Recommended

PCOS- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- Cause, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet

Irregular Periods and Pregnancy- When to be Worried?

Period Lasting for 3 Weeks or More- What Could be the Reasons?


I define myself as a voracious reader and an avid writer. I firmly believe that reading non-fiction has played a vital role in honing my writing skills. And when I am not writing, you will find me in trekking Himalayas/ Sahyadris or on a backpacking trip exploring the unexplored places.

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