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Causes of Spotting After Period, Before, During and Between Periods

by Dr. Joe Morales

It is not uncommon for some women to experience bleeding a week or two after their periods (spotting after period). For most women, a healthy menstrual cycle usually last between 28 and 32 days. During your menstrual cycle, you will experience bleeding for up to 5 days. This is however not always the case as most women will have different cycle in some ways.

Spotting refers to the passage of a small amount of blood from the vagina outside a woman’s normal menstruation cycle. Most cases of bleeding are considered normal, urgent medical attention is however advised once you notice heavy bleeding. This is because it could be a sign of an underlying health condition.

What does spotting after period, before period and instead of period mean

What does spotting after period, before period and instead of period mean?

Here are some of the reasons for spotting after periods, between periods and during periods. We have also provided you with an insight on how to stop the bleeding.

Reasons for spotting after period

Spotting or bleeding after period as said is normal and common for most women. Normally, when the menstruation period is over, most women expect any kind of vaginal bleeding to stop. For this reason, it can be worrying when you notice signs of spotting just after your period’s ends.

What then does it mean to spot after periods? Spotting or bleeding after periods is a common side effect of using chemical birth controls. In some women, this could be the first sign of pregnancy whereas, in others, it could be a normal part of menstruation when ovulation happens.

In majority of women, spotting before, after or during period is considered abnormal vaginal bleeding. For this reason urgent medical attention should be sort especially if the spotting occurs:

  • When you are not expecting your menstrual periods
  • When you are pregnant
  • After menopause
  • When you have abnormal flow, either lighter or heavier or
  • At time not expected such as before age 9

Spotting between periods

There are different reasons that would cause a women to experience abnormal bleeding or spotting between periods. In some cases, some women would have the spotting but no period.it is very important you seek medical advice when experience abnormal flow.

Some of the common cause of spotting between periods would include the following.

1. Menstrual causes

Spotting between periods may as a result of complication or abnormality in normal menstrual flow. According to the office on Women’s Health at the U.S department of health and human services, for some women, menstrual flow may be preceded by light, intermittent bleeding. This is known as premenstrual spotting.

In most cases, this I considered normal and does not signal a complication or problem. In rare cases however it may indicate hormonal imbalance or other health complication that will need to be valuated and diagnosed as soon as possible.

2. Sexually transmitted infection

Sexually transmitted infection or infection of your reproductive system can are also possible causes of abnormal bleeding between periods. Infection of your productive system can result in not only abnormal bleeding but also other symptom like swelling and inflammation.

Common infections that could lead to abnormal bleeding will include:

  • STDs such as human papilloma virus, gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes
  • Vaginal douching
  • Rough intercourse
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, this condition is marked by the inflammation of the reproductive organ that may lead to scarring.

According to statistics, human papilloma virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection in women. It is also the major cause of cervical cancer. Currently, there is a vaccine that can help prevent against certain strains of HPV.

3. Pregnancy-related causes

Spotting between periods can as be as a result of pregnancy complications. The abnormal bleeding can be caused by both miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.

Spotting for some days, followed by abdominal or pelvic pain, lightheadedness are common signs of an ectopic pregnancy. With this pregnancy, a pregnancy test may be negative, but urgent medical evaluation and diagnosis is required given that this is a life-threatening condition.

Spotting during or between periods does not necessarily mean you are having a miscarriage. However, when pregnant, spotting accompanied by abnormal cramping can be a sign of a miscarriage. Consult your doctor as soon as possible.

4. Hormonal contraceptives

In women, estrogen and progesterone are the two hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. A common side effect of using hormonal contraceptives is that it may lead to an imbalance of these hormones.

The hormones can also get out of balance as a result of dysfunctional ovaries, thyroid gland problems or on and off use of birth control pills. 

According to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom, it is common to experience abnormal bleeding during the first three months when one starts any type of hormonal contraceptive. Hormonal contraceptives that could lead to bleeding between periods will include:

  • Birth control pills
  • Intrauterine device
  • Contraceptive patch
  • Contraceptive implant and injection

This abnormal bleeding can be prevented by:

  • Making sure you use birth control pills as prescribed
  • Limit aspirin intake during your period
  • You will need to get screen for cervical cancer through a pap smear
  • When the spotting is a side effect of birth control pills, you may request your doctor to change the pills for you
  • To help evaluate your periods, keep a menstrual diary, this way you are able to differentiate between normal menstrua bleeding and spotting.

Spotting during periods or spotting instead of period  

It is also not uncommon for some women to spot during normal periods. In such cases, the abnormal vagina bleeding can be a symptom of any of the following condition.

5. Injury of the vagina (during UID insertion)

A common cause of bleeding during period is injury to the vagina or around the vagina. This can be as a result of rough sexual intercourse, friction with you inner clothing or other accidents. IUD insertion can also cause this kind of trauma. In cases of a vaginal injury causing spotting during period, you need to do the following:

  • If the injury causes the area to be panful and swollen, a cold compress may help relieve the pain and swelling. When using ice cubes, do not keep them on the are for more than 30 minutes
  • Limit friction, protect the are to prevent further damage
  • Do not where tight clothing around the inflamed swollen area.

SEE ALSO: Why am I spotting after sex?

6. Sexually transmitted infection

Sexually transmitted infection for instance human papilloma virus in women is a common cause of spotting during and after periods. HPV is said to the leading cause of cervical cancer. While there are often no signs of early cervical cancer, some signs might include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding between and during menstrual periods
  • Light bleeding after sex
  • Long or heavy menstrual periods
  • Bleeding after menopause and
  • Pain during intercourse

Other STDs that might lead to abnormal bleeding will include chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

7. Reproductive hormones not working normally

Reproductive hormone disorders can affect fertility and normal menstrual cycle. It can also have a long term effect on metabolic cardiovascular and bone health. These hormones are estrogen and progesterone.

Spotting caused by this kind of complication is common in women approaching menopause. The same symptoms can also be seen in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. This is a condition in which a woman’s sex hormone (estrogen and progesterone) are out of balance. This may lead to the growth of an ovarian cyst.

8. Emotional stress

Emotional stress can also lead to spotting before, during or after pregnancy

Emotional stress can also lead to spotting before, during or after pregnancy.

Emotional stress (depression, anxiety, worry or insomnia) or physical stress (weight loss, gain, illness or poor diet) can both affect your menstrual cycle, says Doctor Michelle Petropoulos, a reproductive expert.

She continuous, Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone are necessary for normal menstrual cycle to take place. Stressing factors (stressors) can cause an increase or a decrease. Stress causes an increase in another hormone called cortisol which diminishes the release of estrogen and progesterone. The effect of this is spotting or late or light periods.

9. Uterus cancer

This is cancer that forms in tissues of the uterus. There are two types of uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, this begins in the cells lining the uterus and uterine sarcoma, a rare cancer that begin in the muscle or other tissue of the uterus.

Spotting a week after period

There is an array of factors that affects the way you feel during and after your menstrual cycle. Here are some of the cause why you might notice light red spotting a week or some days after your period.

Some of the causes below may be serious and life threating, please seek medical attention if the spotting or abnormal bleeding last for more than three days.

10. Pelvic inflammatory disease

Simply referred to as PID, this is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. The condition might cause the inflammation of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and the cervix.

The condition is caused by a sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia or gonorrhea. You doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat this condition. Worse cases of PID can be shown with the following symptoms:

  • Severe pan in lower belly and pelvis
  • Pain during and after sex
  • Abnormal bleeding during and after periods
  • Pain when peeing

11. Birth control

Spitting as mentioned can also be a possible side effect of using hormonal birth control pills. This pills works by controlling the levels of estrogen and progesterone (reproductive hormones). An increase or decrease or an imbalance of this hormone is what leads to abnormal bleeding before during and after period.

Birth control pills, when missed can cause spotting

Birth control pills, when missed can cause spotting

Have your doctor recommend a different birth control pill to prevent this kind of side effect. You can also have him or her recommend a different type of contraceptive.

12. Perimenopause

Abnormal bleeding can also be a symptom of perimenopause. Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when ovaries stop producing estrogen. Perimenopause on the other hand is the period shorty before the occurrence of menopause.

Perimenopause can be shown by symptoms such as:

  • Irregular or abnormal periods
  • Hot flashes and seep problems
  • Drastic mood changes
  • Vaginal and bladder problems
  • Changes in sexual function
  • Decreasing fertility

13. Ovarian cyst

This is a fluid-filled sac within the ovary. In most cases, they will cause no symptoms. In some people, symptoms will include boating, severe abdominal pain or in other cases lower back pain.

This cyst can be diagnosed with either an ultrasound, a CT scan or MRI. Treating this cyst involves treating the underlying condition. Functional cysts and hemorrhagic ovarian cyst on the other hands usually resolve spontaneously.

 Other causes

  1. Uterine fibroids
  2. Underactive thyroid
  3. Urethral prolapse

Red spotting after period

Red spotting after period should be a cause for concern. In most cases, most women are unable to pin point to a particular cause as the reasons for the abnormal bleeding after their periods end. Some women will completely ignore this symptom until their health is completely compromised.

As mentioned, a normal menstrual cycle will start between 28 days and 32 days. Once the bleeding starts, it is expected to last between 2 to 5 days depending on a woman menstrual cycle. It is however not uncommon for some women to experience red spotting or light bleeding a couple of days after normal menstrual cycle has ended.

In rare cases, red spotting can also be observed after the periods start and during the menstruation cycle. The red to dark brownish or red to pink spotting is often due to different factors. See also: Dark vaginal discharge causes and meaning.

Whereas the primary symptom of abnormal bleeding during or after periods is the discharge of dark drown or red colored spotting form the vagina, some people will observe numerous secondary symptoms that accompany the bleeding.

Common symptoms accompanying the bleeding may include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Mild to severe back pain
  • Constant urge to empty the bladder

Urgent medical attention is required in cases of heavy red spotting. Your health care provide may recommend a number of diagnostic test to determine the underlying cause of the spotting. Some of the most popular tests used to determine the underlying cause of abnormal bleeding after periods includes:

  1. Pregnancy test, attempts to determine whether or not a woman is pregnant
  2. blood count test, a blood test used to evaluate your overall health and detect a wide range of disorders
  3. thyroid test which test the THHS value in the body
  4. liver test called a liver function test it is a group of blood test that give information about the state of a patient’s liver
  5. Pap smear test (Papanicolaou test), this is a method of cervical screening used to detect potentially pre-cancerous and cancerous processes in the cervix.

Light pink spotting after missed period

Light pink blood or implantation bleeding after a missed period is rare or uncommon. Egg attachment after fertilization, also called implantation, occurs about 9 days after ovulation. In some women, this process may occur as early as 7 days or as late as 12 days after ovulation. During this time, you may experience light pink spotting.

However, what does it mean if you experience light pink spotting after a missed period? According to Implantationbleed, “Until implantation occurs, there’s no contact of the fertilized egg with the mother’s organism and there can’t be any pregnancy signs, including a period delay. In other words, if it’s time for your period to begin and the fertilized egg hasn’t attached to the uterine lining yet, you will simply have a period, it won’t be delayed! You will have a missed period next month.”

This may mean that your light pink spotting signs after a delayed period may be caused by factors other than implantation.

Late period spotting

Late period spotting is often a sign that things are not okay. A regular menstruation cycle is a sign of good health. As mentioned, a regular menstruation will occur anywhere after 28 or 32 days. Again, for normal, healthy periods, the bleeding or spotting will last for a week maximum.

There is an array of reasons that could cause late period spotting. If you had regular menstrual cycle and develop an irregular periods for more than one cycle, then you will need to have to consult a professional health care provider as soon as possible.

Late period spotting can be as a result of:

  • Pregnancy
  • An underlying medical condition
  • Gain or significant weight loss
  • Excessive emotional stress
  • Some medication
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Perimenopause

A part for a late period spotting, other complication some women may experience would include: heavier and longer period, early period or light menstrual flow.

Light spotting but no period

A common difference between spotting and period is that, spotting will in most cases be light and not as heavy in volume as a period. With spotting, you might experience faint or light staining in your vaginal mucus. In some cases, you might be able to observe small amount of blood, in other cases however, no blood stain is seen.

Light spotting that is not period is not most cases common after rough sexually or straining exercises. Small amount of bleeding before a menstrual periods if often harmless, continues bleeding spotting however may indicate an underlying health problem.

In such cases urgent medical attention is required to establish and treat the underlying cause of the abnormal bleeding. The main causes of spotting but no period will include the following:

Ovulation is a common cause of abnormal vaginal bleeding. Ovulation refers to the process in which an egg is released from the ovum. In heathy females, this process occurs about midway through the menstrual cycle. When fertilization fails to occur, this could be the reason for the light spotting before period.

Pregnancy is the other common cause of light spotting. For sexually active women, implantation bleeding will occur around 2 weeks after conception. In some women, pregnancy spotting might occur sometimes around the periods. Cases of spotting can be shown as pink, brown or red spots on underwear.

Light mild spotting in early pregnancy is common and harmless, you will however need to seek immediate medical attention if you notice the following:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Spotting or abnormal bleeding in the second trimester
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding when breastfeeding, this could mean that your fertility is returning.

The other possible cause of bleeding that might not be periods is Implantation bleeding. This is the bleeding that occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the inner wall of the uterus. This kind of abnormal bleeding before period is one of the early signs of pregnancy.

Emotional and physical stress are the other possible cause of abnormal bleeding after and before period. Menstruation cycle and other processes in our body are controlled by hormones. Emotional stress hinders the optima functioning of these hormones thus to this kind of complication.

Medial reactivation can also be the underlying cause of the spotting. For most women on contraceptive pills, disrupted menstrual cycle is a common side effect. Using hormonal-based contraceptive is a major cause of spotting before periods, between periods and after periods.

Urgent medical attention is required. Early treatment can help prevent any kind of complication that might be associated with the abnormal spotting.

How to stop spotting after period

In some cases, you might not be able to prevent bleeding before periods, between periods or after periods depending on what the underlying cause of the bleeding is. There however some preventive measures that can help stop or avoid abnormal virginal bleeding.

To stop abnormal spotting you will need to:

  1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, this involves eating well and maintaining a normal weight as being overweight can lead to abnormal periods.
  2. Avoid hormonal imbalance, if you are using birth control pills, you need to make sure to follow the right prescription. If the abnormal spotting continues, you might need to as your health care provider about a low dose contraceptive.
  3. In cases of heavy spotting after periods, you doctor might prescribe a high dose estrogen therapy for heavy bleeding
  4. Try excessing moderately to maintain health and emotional stress
  5. In cases of severe pain accompanying the abnormal bleeding, over-the-counter ibuprofen may help. It also help reduce bleeding. Avoid aspirin as it might worsen the bleeding.


  1. abnormal vaginal bleeding: http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/abnormal-vaginal-bleeding-topic-overview#1
  2. vaginal bleeding between periods: http://www.healthline.com/health/vaginal-bleeding-between-periods
  3. what causes bleeding between periods: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/976.aspx?CategoryID=60
  4. causes and symptoms of spotting after periods: http://www.ladycarehealth.com/causes-and-symptoms-of-spotting-after-period/
  5. why is there spotting after your periods: http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Spotting-After-Period.html

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1 comment

Hong William Aug 1, 2017 - 7:57 am

Thank you for this post. It is very helpful for me.