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Spotting Before Period Causes: From Stress to Birth Control

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Spotting before period, also known as premenstrual spotting, refers to the light bleeding or discharge that’s pink, red, or brown in color. It can happen a few days before your regular period starts. 

While spotting can be alarming, it’s often a normal part of your menstrual cycle. However, it can also be a sign of an underlying condition. 

Weight changes, fibroids, stress, and Endometriosis are some of the reasons you might experience spotting before your period.

This article discusses spotting before period causes and helps you understand when it’s the best time to see a doctor.

Spotting Before Period Causes

Spotting is often a normal part of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). PMS is a set of symptoms that some women or Assigned Females at Birth (AFAB) experience in the days or weeks leading up to their period. 

Studies have found that spotting can be one of these symptoms, along with other PMS symptoms like mood swings, bloating, and cramps.

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  • Below are some of the most common reasons, like fibroids, stress, weight changes, etc, for why you might experience spotting before your period:

    Birth Control Methods

    Starting, stopping, or switching birth control methods can disrupt your hormone levels and cause spotting. This is especially common when using hormonal birth control like birth control pills,  patches, or rings. 

    It usually takes your body a few months to adjust to a new birth control method; hence, you may observe spotting during this time.

    Want to learn more about how birth control methods affect your period? Read Does Birth Control Stop Your Period?

    If you suspect you might be pregnant and experience spotting, especially if accompanied by severe cramping or pain, seek medical advice immediately.


    Chronic stress can disrupt your hormones and affect your menstrual cycle in several ways. When you are under stress, your body releases a hormone called Cortisol, which can disrupt the production of Estrogen and Progesterone, causing spotting before your period.

    Uterine Polyps

    These are benign (non-cancerous) growths that form on the lining of the uterus. They can sometimes cause spotting between periods or before your period starts.


    This condition occurs when a tissue just like the lining of your uterus (Endometrium) grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis can cause spotting before your period, along with other symptoms like pelvic pain and heavy periods.

    Thyroid Problems

    Female experiencing thyroidSource: pixelshot
    Woman suffering from thyroid

    A Thyroid gland that is underactive or overactive can interfere with your hormone balance and lead to irregular bleeding, including spotting before your period.

    Weight Changes

    Drastic weight gain or loss can impact your hormones as it increases or decreases the levels of Estrogen respectively and potentially cause spotting before your period.

    Post-Sex bleeding

    Sometimes, friction during sex can irritate the opening to the uterus, known as the cervix. This irritation can cause light bleeding that might be mistaken for spotting before your period, especially if it’s close to your expected period date.

    Pelvic Inflammatory Disease 

    Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection in a woman’s reproductive organs ( the fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries), leading to irregular bleeding patterns, including prolonged periods.

    When to consult a doctor

    While spotting before your period is often nothing to worry about, there are situations where it’s best to see a doctor. Here are some signs you need to watch out for:

    • Heavy Spotting: If the spotting is heavy and lasts longer than a few days, it’s important to see a doctor to rule out any underlying issues
    • Spotting with Other Symptoms: If you experience spotting along with other symptoms like fever, abdominal pain, or unusual vaginal discharge
    • New or Different Spotting Pattern: If your spotting pattern is new or different from your usual cycle, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss it
    Keeping a menstrual calendar can help you identify patterns in your spotting and period. This information can help you and your doctor understand your cycle and determine if there’s a need for further investigation.


    Spotting before your period is a common occurrence and can be pink, red, or brown in color.

    Common causes for spotting before your period include Fibroids, PID, weight changes, stress, post-sex bleeding, and birth control. 

    Spotting before your period can be a source of concern, but understanding the potential causes and learning when to seek medical advice can help you navigate this aspect of your menstrual health with ease.

    If your spotting becomes heavy, lasts longer than a few days, or is accompanied by other symptoms like vaginal discharge, it is best to consult your doctor. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can exercise cause spotting before your period?

    Exercise itself is unlikely to cause spotting before your period. However, if you’re already experiencing hormonal fluctuations that cause spotting, heavy exercise could increase blood flow and make the spotting more noticeable.

    Why am I spotting throughout my period?

    Spotting throughout your period could be normal shedding of your uterine lining. However, it could also indicate hormonal imbalances, uterine fibroids, or other underlying conditions. If the spotting is heavy, prolonged, or accompanied by pain, see a doctor to rule out any concerns.

    Does spotting before the period count as the start of the cycle?

    No, spotting before your period isn’t typically considered the cycle’s start. The menstrual cycle usually begins with the first day of your full menstrual flow, not the lighter pre-period spotting.

    Does spotting cause cramps?

    Spotting itself typically doesn’t cause cramps. Uterine contractions during menstruation to shed the uterine lining cause menstrual cramps. You might experience spotting along with cramps if the spotting is part of the beginning of your period and the cramps are from the shedding process.

    Is spotting before my period a sign of a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)?

    No, spotting before your period usually isn’t a sign of an STI. STIs typically cause abnormal bleeding between two cycles, not right before your periods. If you’re concerned about an STI or experience other symptoms like pain or unusual discharge, consult a doctor for testing.

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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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