Is Spotting Before Your Period Normal?

Feb 6, 2019

Dr. Ashley Margeson

Dr. Ashley Margeson


The age old question we ask ourselves…. “is this normal?” And spotting before your period sometimes is, but not always. Here’s how I help my patients understand whats going on hormonally in those days leading up to your period.

Your period is complicated, sort of, because in reality your period is nature’s way of telling you you are not pregnant. From the moment your period finishes, your body’s hormones are fluctuating in a way that triggers an egg to be released, and a lining to become thicker on your uterus, rendering it capable of caring for that (hopefully) fertilized egg. When that egg is not fertilized, your body naturally sheds the uterine lining that is designed to hold the egg. If your uterine lining starts to break down slowly, you can get a little bleed before your actual period starts.

If this is the case, say a light spot about 12 hours before your period starts, than spotting before your period is perfectly normal. If that spotting happens for days before your period actually begins, there’s a good chance your hormones aren’t fluctuating the way they should. This can either be due to high of an estrogen load, or not enough of a progesterone load.

Sometimes, spotting is triggered by something as simple as changing a hormonal birth control pill or getting a hormonal IUD. This is generally due to a loss of progesterone from the fluctuation or, again, an estrogen dominance.

If you tend to spot after sex, you could be suffering from vaginal irritation. This can be caused by a yeast infection or a STI like chlamydia. Sex causes inflammation of the cervical tissue in this case, which results in the spotting after intercourse, and sometimes even painful urination. If this is the case, please see your medical provider.

If you don’t experience regular spotting, and all of a sudden you had an odd period, don’t fret! One “off” period can be triggered by a progesterone loss in response to high stress or an external event. But spotting for more than 2 periods in a row might necessitate a trip to your medical provider to rule our thyroid disorders, cervical polyps, diabetes or PCOS. The rarest cause of spotting is cervical cancer, but you never want to be too careful!

In any case, spotting before your period can be a sign of something else going on with your system; so consulting a knowledgeable medical provider can help detect more serious health problems, but also offer peace of mind that all is perfectly well.

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