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Although uncommon, ovulation spotting can occur. Ovulation spotting or ovulation bleeding is the slight bleeding that occurs during the time you ovulate. It is normal for you to worry when you bleed outside of your menstrual period, but having ovulatory bleeding is not something you should be concerned about. Ovulation bleeding is also referred to as estrogen breakthrough bleeding. If you feel like you’re suffering from some sort of health issue, consult your doctor immediately.

What is Ovulation?

An egg is released from the ovary during ovulation. The egg then travels down the fallopian tube, where it receives a sperm to be fertilized. In some cases, two eggs or more can be released, which results in twins or more.

When you’re ovulating, the estrogen hormone increases. After the release of the egg, the estrogen levels drop, and progesterone increases. This shift in the hormone balance can cause light bleeding or spotting. It is normally lighter than the bleeding during periods. About 5% of women experience ovulation spotting mid-menstrual cycle. 

In case you feel like having cramps or pain, or you feel like it’s been more than a few days since you’ve started bleeding, you should consult your doctor, as there could be other reasons for the condition. Women who don’t ovulate regularly can have irregular menstrual patterns. Conditions like endometriosis or PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) can be the culprit to irregular bleeding patterns.

Identification of Ovulation Spotting

If you notice some light bleeding during your menstrual cycle even though you’re not on your period, it’s probably ovulation spotting. The color of the blood itself exhibits that it could be ovulation spotting as it is much lighter in color. The color can be described as red or light pink. The lighter shade is due to the mixture of blood with cervical fluid, as more cervical fluid is produced during ovulation. The ovulation period lasts about 1-2 days.

When does the Spotting Occur?

During the normal menstrual cycle of 28 days, ovulation usually occurs between days 11 and 21. The time can vary from person to person, depending on the length of their cycles. Ovulation can occur anytime and can take place at different times or on different days every month. If you want to get pregnant, you can keep track of your cycle and notice the sign and symptoms of whether you’re ovulating or not. If you don’t want to get pregnant, you can still keep track of your cycle and avoid sexual activity during the time.

An egg, once released, can be fertilized only within 12-24 hours, and the time period is the ovulatory period. A sperm can last 3 – 5 days in the body, which means you can get pregnant within those five days, which is your fertile window. If you’re trying to get pregnant, this would be the ideal time. If you have sexual intercourse after the ovulatory phase, you are less likely to get pregnant.

Reason for Ovulation Spotting:

As discussed briefly before, spotting occurs due to changes in the hormonal balance. Before the egg is released, estrogen increases, and after the release of the egg, the estrogen level drops while the progesterone level increases. Women who usually have ovulation bleeding or ovulation spotting have high levels of luteinizing hormone and progesterone hormone.

The other Signs and Symptoms of Ovulation:

Apart from spotting, other signs and symptoms of ovulation are as follows:

  • Increased production of cervical fluid
  • Cervical fluid appears egg white-like
  • Cervix becomes firm
  • Increase in basal body temperature
  • Increase in sex drive
  • Abdominal pain but at one side
  • Increase in luteinizing hormone (LH)
  • Tender breasts
  • Sense of taste, smell or vision becomes sharp

If you see combinations of these signs, you’re most likely ovulating and making the best use of this time.

Bleeding apart from Ovulation Bleeding:

Bleeding that does not follow the ovulatory bleeding pattern can be due to many reasons. These could be the following:

  • Implantation: upon fertilization, the zygote (fertilized egg and sperm) embeds itself in the uterus lining. The bleeding caused due to this process is called implantation bleeding.
  • Pregnancy-related: it is common for women to bleed during their early pregnancy, and this can be due to many reasons. This can be harmless but harmful as well as indicate ectopic pregnancy, and you should let your OB/GYN know about your situation.
  • Anovulatory cycle: monthly cycles in which the process of ovulation does not occur is referred as an anovulatory cycle. There are many reasons as to why a person may not ovulate. In such conditions, a person may have irregular bleeding.
  • Abnormalities: structural abnormalities of the uterus can lead to unusual bleeding. A person with a medical condition can bleed in between the cycles and should get checked up.
  • Liver or kidney disease: liver and kidney diseases can cause blood clotting which can lead to bleeding.
  • Hormonal treatments: medications like fertility or birth control pills can cause bleeding
  • Infection: vaginal infections like sexually transmitted diseases can cause abnormal bleeding due to inflammation.

Difference between Ovulation Spotting and Implantation Bleeding

You must be wondering whether the reason for your bleeding mid-menstrual cycle is due to ovulation or implantation. We’ll explain the difference. You can tell the difference between the two by the following:

  • Where menstrual bleeding is light pink to bright red, implantation bleeding color ranges from light pink to brownish color.
  • Where your periods are heavy and thick, implantation bleeding tends to be lighter in flow.
  • Periods last about 5-6 days, while implantation bleeding ranges from half to two days.

Additionally, other signs of implantation observed along with the above are:

  • Tender breasts
  • Lower backache
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Cramps
  • Headache

When to Take the Pregnancy Test:

Ideally, you should take the test when you miss your first period or after about 15 – 16 days after you observe the occurrence of ovulation bleeding. As the hCG level rises in your body during pregnancy, taking a test too early can result in a false negative when you’re actually pregnant. The hCG level would not be too early enough to be detected.

Once you test positive, you can book an appointment with the OB/GYN and confirm your pregnancy. in case you feel like something is wrong, consult a doctor.

The Takeaway:

Since ovulation spotting occurs in a small number of women, this does not mean that you don’t ovulate. Ovulation can occur without the occurrence of spotting. If you’re planning on having a baby, you can track your menstrual cycle or look for other signs such as whether you’re feeling slightly feverish due to change in basal body temperature or notice change in the viscosity of cervical fluid.

You can also use apps to track your menstrual cycle in case you forget. By the mentioned indications, you can narrow down your fertile window and make the best use of it whether you’re trying to get pregnant or avoid it.

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