Ovulation Bleeding: What Causes Spotting + Impact on TTC
You may have noticed bleeding and spotting in the middle of your cycle and if you are trying to conceive (TTC), you may wonder if this means you are ovulating. Ovulation bleeding doesn’t necessarily happen to every woman or every cycle – however, it does happen and it is completely normal!
In this article, we will be covering everything you need to know about ovulation bleeding and spotting, why it happens, and what it means if you are TTC.
What is ovulation spotting?
Ovulation spotting is minor bleeding that happens around the time that you ovulate. Studies show that about 4.8% of women experience ovulation bleeding. While some women experience it every cycle, others only experience ovulation spotting from time to time.
Understanding ovulation spotting and bleeding
What causes ovulation spotting?
Ovulation spotting could be the body’s response to the drop of estrogen and the rise of progesterone right before an 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 is released, estrogen levels drop sharply, which may cause the inner lining of the uterus to shed and lead to light spotting.
Spotting around ovulation typically lasts one or two days. The drop in estrogen is an indicator the body is about to release an egg and this might cause light bleeding. It might also come with bloating or light cramps. It can 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. Because of this, it is often confused with a period. On average, implantation bleeding typically occurs 10-14 days after conception.
What are the symptoms of 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 levels, specifically the drop of estrogen right before ovulation, which causes the inner lining of the uterus to shed.
When does ovulation spotting occur and how long does it last?
Ovulation bleeding occurs mid-cycle, around the time that you should be ovulating. Although experiences can vary among women, ovulation bleeding or spotting usually only lasts a day or two.
Please note: if you experience bleeding that lasts longer than two days, isn’t related to your period, and/or is heavier than normal, you should speak with your doctor immediately. Abnormal vaginal bleeding may be a sign of something more serious such as infection, fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), uterine polyps, or another health condition that may require immediate treatment.
Is ovulation spotting normal?
As we mentioned above, spotting during ovulation is normal for some women. As your hormones change with ovulation, you might experience what some doctors call estrogen breakthrough bleeding. As your body releases an egg, your estrogen levels drop 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.
Ovulation spotting stories
Although spotting during ovulation is rare, it’s easy to find stories of women online who have experienced ovulation spotting at some point in their life. Here are a few stories of women who shared their experiences on Reddit, NetMums, and YouTube.
“Alli_tx” from Reddit
Redditor “alli_tx” shared her experience in the subreddit r/TryingForABaby. Opening up to fellow Redditors, she explained that since having a D&C (dilation and curettage) after miscarriage, she now spots mid-cycle around her time of ovulation.
To ease her concerns, commenters reassured her that ovulation spotting is normal – even though it can seem to happen out of the blue. One commenter even shared that she personally “used to always spot with ovulation”, however, she doesn’t anymore now that she’s had a baby.
“GG” from NetMums
Another user on a NetMums forum shared that on day 12 of her cycle, she experienced ovulation pain accompanied by brown blood, which was out of the ordinary for her. Several people commented on this post, sharing that they too experience mid-cycle bleeding on occasion.
Tania Gonzalez from YouTube
In a video posted to her YouTube channel, Tania Gonzalez shared that since taking Femara, she began to notice her cycle decreasing from an average of 31-33 days to 28 days. Alongside this shortened cycle length, she also experienced brown, pink, and red discharge on days 18 and 19 of her cycle. This discharge also came with some light cramping and slight pain in her side.
Concerned, she reached out to her doctor who told her that her symptoms were completely normal and likely either a symptom of ovulation or a side effect of Femara.
FAQs about ovulation bleeding and spotting
How do you know when you’re ovulating?
In addition to light bleeding or spotting, there are several other symptoms of ovulation to watch out for. The most common symptoms include:
Changes in basal body temperature (BBT). BBT rises approximately 0.5F after ovulation. While this rise in temperature is a good indicator that ovulation has already happened, BBT cannot predict ovulation or signal that ovulation is happening.
Changes in cervical mucus. Elevated estrogen levels can cause cervical mucus to have the appearance and texture of raw egg whites.
Changes in the positioning of the cervix. Around ovulation, the position of the cervix moves higher and is also softer to the touch. This is nature’s way of creating an environment that is more accessible to sperm.
Beyond staying aware of your physical symptoms, you can also spot ovulation by following your hormone patterns. For example, estrogen rises 4-5 days in the runup to ovulation along with luteinizing hormone (LH), which spikes 24-36 hours before ovulation (this is known as the LH surge).
While it’s possible to track your hormones with your doctor by taking frequent blood tests, it may be more convenient and cost-effective to monitor your hormones at home with a hormone tracker like Mira.
Does spotting impact your ability to conceive?
No. Even though it is a rare symptom of ovulation, spotting is considered normal and does not impact your ability to conceive.
However, in cases where mid-cycle spotting and bleeding are caused by an underlying health condition, such as PCOS or endometriosis, the underlying health condition may negatively impact your ability to conceive.
If your mid-cycle spotting is heavy, lasts for more than two days, and is accompanied by pain, cramping, or difficulty with getting pregnant, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor so that they can assess your situation and provide the appropriate treatment.
Is spotting during ovulation a good sign?
It depends. If spotting is due to fluctuating hormones around ovulation, it’s not necessarily a good or bad sign of a potential pregnancy. However, spotting after ovulation can look very similar to implantation bleeding, which may be a good sign if you are trying to conceive (TTC). Only a third of pregnant women experience implantation bleeding in early pregnancy, so do not worry if you are TTC and have not experienced implantation bleeding.
Does spotting during ovulation mean pregnancy?
Again, not necessarily. Ovulation spotting may simply be your body’s response to fluctuating hormones during ovulation. It’s important to bear in mind though that spotting a few days after ovulation may be implantation bleeding, which is an early sign of pregnancy. However, the only way to know for sure is by taking a pregnancy test on the first day of your missed period.