Ovulation Bleeding and Spotting: 10 Common Questions Answered
You may have noticed bleeding and spotting in the middle of your cycle. If you are trying to conceive, you may wonder if this means you are ovulating. Ovulation bleeding doesn’t necessarily happen to every woman or every cycle. Other pathological conditions can cause intermenstrual bleeding as well.
In this article:
- What is ovulation spotting?
- How do you recognize ovulation spotting?
- Does ovulation bleeding happen before ovulation?
- Is it normal to spot during ovulation?
- Why does ovulation spotting happen?
- How long does ovulation bleeding last?
- Is it implantation bleeding or a period?
- What are other intermenstrual bleeding causes?
- What are the other symptoms of ovulation?
- Can I get pregnant while bleeding?
What is ovulation spotting?
Ovulation spotting is minor bleeding that happens around the time you ovulate. During a menstrual cycle, a mature egg is released from the ovary and becomes ready to be fertilized. Bleeding during ovulation can be normal for some women.
If you’re wondering if ovulation spotting is normal then the answer is it depends. Ovulation spotting can vary from woman to woman. In fact, some women experience the spotting every cycle, some experience it a few times only, and some never have that experience. Studies show that only about 3% of cycles have ovulation spotting between periods.
How do you recognize ovulation spotting?
Ovulation spotting is often characterized by very light bleeding, unlike what you may experience during your period. It is light vaginal bleeding, usually happening outside your regular menstrual bleedings.
The color of blood ranges from light pink to dark brown, or bright red, depending on the speed of blood flow. Light pink indicates the blood is mixed with the cervical fluid. Women usually produce more cervical fluid around the time of ovulation and the bleeding could be caused by changes in hormone level, specifically the drop of estrogen hormone right before ovulation, which causes the inner lining of the uterus to shed.
Does ovulation bleeding happen before ovulation?
Ovulation spotting often occurs between periods. It could happen before, during, or after ovulation (calculate your fertile window here). Spotting is not a reliable indicator of when ovulation occurs.
If you are trying to conceive or avoiding pregnancy, you might consider tracking when you ovulate. For women with a regular period, ovulation often occurs between 12-16 days before the onset of the next period, depending on the length of your cycle. Ovulation timing could vary from woman to woman, and cycle to cycle. It could happen on a different day each month.
Tracking with Mira can help you understand exactly when you’re fertile, regardless if you have spotting or not during a cycle.
Tracking ovulation helps with your chance of becoming pregnant or improves the success of preventing pregnancy. Keep in mind that an egg only has 12-24 hours to be fertilized during ovulation, but sperm could live up to 3-5 days in a woman’s reproductive tract during her fertile window, when the cervical fluid changes to egg white texture, helping sperm to swim towards the egg. This means if you have sex on the day after ovulation, you are unlikely to get pregnant, but you have 3-5 fertile days before ovulation happens.
Estrogen and Luteinizing hormone (LH) are great indicators when the fertile window arrives. See why you should consider tracking your hormones to get pregnant so you can understand how long after your LH surge you ovulate.
Is it normal to spot during ovulation?
As we mentioned above, spotting during ovulation is normal for some women. As your hormones change with ovulation you might experience what some doctor’s call estrogen breakthrough bleeding. As your body releases an egg your estrogen drops and progesterone spikes leading to light bleeding. This usually occurs mid-cycle.
If you are trying to conceive and are tracking your fertile window, this light bleeding could be a good sign. It means you are ovulating and if you have had sex in the 3-5 days before you could become pregnant.
Typically normal ovulation spotting isn’t paired with any other symptoms. If you experience other symptoms such as heavy cramping you should consult with your doctor.
Why does ovulation spotting happen?
Spotting before ovulation could be the body’s response to the drop of estrogen and the rise of progesterone right before the egg is released from the ovary. During a menstrual cycle, around two dozen follicles containing eggs start to grow. One of them will mature, and then the egg bursts through its follicle and becomes ready to be fertilized. Right before the egg release, the estrogen level drops sharply, which may cause the inner lining of the uterus to shed and lead to light spotting.
Spotting during ovulation could last one or two days. The drop in the estrogen level is an indicator the body is about to release an egg and this might cause light bleeding. It might come with bloating or light cramps. It could occur every cycle, a few times, or not at all.
Spotting after ovulation could be implantation spotting, which occurs around the time when a fertilized egg attaches to the inner wall of the uterus. Only one-third of women will ever experience it, but it is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Implantation bleeding may happen from a few days after ovulation until a few days before the next menstrual bleeding starts. Therefore, it is often confused with a period.
How long does ovulation bleeding last?
Ovulation bleeding should only last a day or two. If you experience bleeding that lasts longer or gets heavier and isn’t related to your period, you should check with your doctor.
Is it implantation bleeding or a period?
There are a few ways commonly used to distinguish these two. Menstrual bleeding is usually bright to dark red in color, while implantation bleeding is light pink to dark brown. Implantation bleeding lasts for half a day to two days, while menstrual bleeding usually lasts longer than this. Implantation bleeding is also much lighter than a period.
Implantation bleeding is a normal thing we see in many women. There is nothing to worry about and it does not affect the health of an unborn baby.
What are other intermenstrual bleeding causes?
Intermenstrual bleeding occurs for many reasons. Some indicate health issues that you may want to discuss with your OBGYN doctor.
- Hormone imbalances – Estrogen and Progesterone are two hormones that regulate ovulation and your cycle. If they get out of balance, you may experience bleeding between periods. Dysfunctional ovaries, thyroid gland problems, and change of birth control may cause hormone imbalance. Check out how Mira can help you to understand your hormones at home.
- Ectopic pregnancy – An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube, not on the inner lining of the uterus. It could cause intermenstrual vaginal bleeding, and lead to serious conditions.
- Infection and other causes – Bleeding between periods can signal infections, sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammation disease, HPV, or blunt force trauma after sex. If you think any of these might apply to you, please see an OBGYN’s immediately.
What are the other symptoms of ovulation?
There are many other symptoms that may signal ovulation, in addition to ovulation bleeding. The most common ones are:
- Hormone levels – Estrogen raises 4-5 days leading to ovulation, while LH surges 12-24 hours before ovulation.
- Basal body temperature (BBT) – BBT raises by 0.5F in 12 hours you ovulate. It is a good indicator that ovulation has already occurred, but it doesn’t predict ovulation or tell when ovulation occurred.
- Cervical mucus – The elevated Estrogen level gives cervical mucus an egg white-like texture.
- Cervix position – Around ovulation, the cervix position moves higher, softer, and open, so it is more accessible to sperm.
Can I get pregnant while bleeding?
If your intermenstrual bleeding is not due to implantation bleeding, you can still get pregnant for this cycle. However, spotting during ovulation doesn’t necessarily mean pregnancy. As mentioned above, it could be a normal part of ovulation, or caused by health issues. You can try a pregnancy test on the first day of the missed period to confirm.
If your bleeding lasts for more than a day or two, you should consult your OBGYN doctor as soon as possible.
✔️ Medically Reviewed by Dr Roohi Jeelani, MD, FACOG and Lauren Grimm, MA
Dr Roohi Jeelani is Director of Research and Education at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Dr Jeelani earned her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica. She then completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Wayne State University, Detroit Medical Center, where she was awarded a Women’s Reproductive Health NIH K12 Research Grant. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr Jeelani has authored numerous articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific meetings. A Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Jeelani is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
Lauren Grimm is Research Coordinator at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, where she also completed her masters in Medical Sciences. Lauren has worked alongside Dr. Jeelani for the last 3 years, authoring a number of abstracts and articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific conferences. Lauren will be continuing her education this fall at Rush University Medical College in Chicago, IL as an MD candidate.
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