Spotting Between Periods: What You Can Learn From Your Breakthrough Bleeds

Why am I spotting when I’m not on my period?

If spotting happens mid-cycle, it’s also known as breakthrough bleeding.  

If you’ve recently started taking the Pill, or another hormonal contraceptive, you can expect breakthrough bleeding for up to three months as your body adjusts to new hormone levels. It’s also normal for spotting to continue long term with intrauterine devices and the progestogen-only pill.

Spotting can also be triggered around the time of ovulation if estrogen levels drop before progesterone has had a chance to rise. Since estrogen stimulates the endometrium to thicken, its decline can trigger some shedding.

When the egg is released, the follicle containing it can also rupture and bleed. Ovulation spotting lasts around a day and is sometimes accompanied by cramps on one side of the abdomen.

If you’re trying to get pregnant, breakthrough bleeding might actually be implantation bleeding, especially if you also experience lower back pain, cramps, nausea, or sore breasts. This typically happens the week before your period is due, although it’s also believed that some blood can be released as the fertilized egg implants in the uterus.