In a normal menstrual cycle, an egg is released during ovulation. If fertilization does not occur soon after the release of the egg, the uterus sheds its lining and menstruation starts. It’s uncommon for women to experience menstruation-like bleeding the middle of her cycle, but spotting or light bleeding is not unheard of. Here are five of the most common types of mid cycle bleeding, and what they mean.
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1. Spotting After Ovulation
If you’re experiencing spotting after ovulation, a few things could be occurring.
- The ovulation process itself can cause mid cycle bleeding. When the egg is released, slight bleeding can occur, which can cause pink or brown discharge, or light spotting.
- You might be pregnant. If the egg has been successfully fertilized, it will implant itself into the uterine wall. This can cause bleeding, which appears as light spotting.
How long does ovulation bleeding last? Typically, one to three days, and bleeding should be very light. If your spotting lasts more than a few days and is heavier than light spotting, see your doctor right away to check for other issues.
2. Spotting Before Ovulation
Spotting before ovulation can be normal, especially if you have a hormonal imbalance. If you’re bleeding before ovulation, a few things could be causing this:
- Old tissue. Some women experience spotting after their period and before ovulation if there’s still tissue in the uterus. If this is what’s causing your spotting, the blood is likely to be light or dark brown in color.
- Hormonal imbalances. Many women who have hormonal imbalances will experience spotting in the middle of their cycle. Some women have spotting and never actually get their period. Please see your doctor if you suspect that an imbalance is the cause of your bleeding. Treatment can be prescribed to overcome the issue, and you may need to make some lifestyle changes.
- Sexual intercourse. Rough sexual intercourse can cause light spotting or bleeding before (or after) ovulation.
3. Bright Red Spotting
Bright red spotting can occur in the middle of a cycle or after implantation occurs. The bright red color indicates that the blood is fresh. Darker blood indicates that the blood is old.
Ovulation can cause red spotting, but light pink is more common. Implantation can also cause bright red or pink spotting, but is typically very light in consistency.
Unfortunately, this type of mid cycle bleeding can also be the first sign of a miscarriage. If spotting is accompanied by cramps and you suspect you might be pregnant, see your doctor.
In some cases, bright red spotting can be a sign that your period is about to start. There’s a chance that you may have miscalculated your cycle or your cycle may be irregular, leading you to believe that your bleeding is occurring mid cycle.
4. Spotting While on Birth Control
Mid cycle spotting is normal for women who are on birth control. The pill, in particular, is known to cause spotting at various points during your cycle – especially during the first few months of use. The spotting is caused by hormone fluctuations, and should return to normal after the body adjusts to the pill.
IUD devices can also cause spotting and the development heavy periods.
5. PCOS Spotting
Spotting for a week or two or skipping periods altogether is all too common for women with PCOS. Caused by a hormonal imbalance, women with this condition have difficulty ovulating normally. Irregular ovulation can lead to inconsistent or irregular bleeding, including spotting.
Cysts, fibroids and polyps can also cause you to spot or bleed in the middle of your cycle.
If you suspect that you have any of these conditions, see your doctor right away. Cysts, fibroids and polyps may be removed in some cases. Your doctor may also be able to recommend treatments and lifestyle changes that can help restore your body’s natural hormonal balance.
Mid cycle bleeding is not uncommon, but it may be a cause for concern. It may be caused by ovulation or implantation, but it may also be an indicator of an underlying health condition. Ovulation or implantation bleeding should not last for more than a few days. If your spotting lasts for several days, see your doctor as soon as possible.