WHAT IS SPOTTING?
Every month a woman undergoes a complex series of hormonal changes during her menstrual cycle, that normally lasts up to 3 to 7days. Except during your period, if you have any light abnormal vaginal bleeding, it can be a case of ‘Spotting’.This bleeding doesn’t necessarily indicate any disease.Irregularities and delayed menstrual cycle can be one of the common causes of spotting.Depending on a woman's age, there are different reasons for dysfunctional uterine bleeding.
Imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone hormones in the body can delay or skip your periods, causing light spotting at times. Full-proof protection like wearing a pad or a tampon is not required. Do not associate spotting with your real period.Blood test, thyroid test, urine test, a complete blood count (CBC), and pregnancy tests can diagnose the cause of recurrent spotting. If your body doesn’t respond to hormonal treatments, check for other possible causes with your doctor such as fibroids, tumours, or infections in the uterus. Following up on hormonal prescriptions is important to regulate your periods. If medications are not helping the issue, you may need a hysteroscopy procedure. It involves examining the uterus to probe the cause of bleeding.
Causes of Spotting Before Periods
Factors that can increase the risk of abnormal bleeding include obesity, excessive work-out, and stress.There are many other reasons behind the occurrence of spotting.Progesterone is one female sex hormone that streamlines the menstrual cycle. Low progesterone levelscause abnormal uterine bleeding, called as spotting before the periods. Other most common causes include:
-If you are taking hormone-based birth control pill, there are chances of spotting during the first three months of course. Medically, this is known as a ‘breakthrough bleeding’.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)such as Gonorrhoea or Chlamydia cause, inflammation in the uterus.
- Disorders of blood clotting, liver disease, kidney disease or infection of pelvic organs
- Development of fibroids or polyps. These are non-cancerous tumours that grow in the uterus lining.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOD) causes improper functioning of the ovaries. Eggs are not released every month as they should, and fluid-filled follicles surround the eggs, which causes irregular periods and spotting.
- Intrauterine device (IUD) may increase your chances of spotting or heavy periods
- Perimenopause is a condition that occurs when you are close to menopause. It makes the uterus lining thicker and periods schedule become unpredictable, leading to spotting.
- Menopause is one phase in a woman’s life when periods stop permanently. Getting close to the menopausal transition fades the heaviness of the period, gradually causing irregular spotting.
- Early stages of pregnancy also cause spotting. It is an implantation bleeding that appears after a fertilized egg gets attached to the uterus lining.
How to Prevent Spotting?
Spotting is not a disease or a disorder that has a set antidote for recovery. However, if spotting appears in every menstrual cycle with cramping, bad odour or defect in colour, look for a treatment that helps you to deal with it. Research shows causes for period spotting may vary from person to person, depending on your lifestyle and stress levels. If the cause for irregular spotting is an infection, cancer, or any other serious ailment, it can lead to life-threatening consequences.
Following are some general prevention tips that will help you to control period spotting:
- Regulate your Hormones: Maintaining a healthy weight and diet can reduce the probabilities of hormonal imbalance. Chuck the junk food that you often consume and replace it with the right greens and grains. Regulating your hormones through medicines is not a good option always. There may be side-effects. Go the organic way and leave no chances of irregularities and spotting in your menstrual cycle.
- Avoid Heavy Exercise: Intense workouts can also be one reason for spotting in women. Overdoing physical exercises can cause exertion in the pelvic area, resulting in spotting and discharge at times.
- Stop Binging on Contraceptives: Women who depend on birth control pills experience abnormal spotting at some point. Being the doctor by yourself and discarding the doctor’s prescription for the intake of these medicines can even stop your period for months.
- Include Iron in your Diet: Consume food items rich in iron such as bananas, beans, spinach etc. An anemic body will not have substantial menstrual blood to flow every month that can result in period spotting.
- Home Remedies: Practice yoga and meditation to relieve stress levels. The primary cause for hormonal imbalance is the intensity of stress a human body absorbs. Prepare a healthy spice tea using any of these in a powdered form - turmeric, cinnamon, ginger or cumin. It regulates the menstrual cycle, leaving no scope for period spotting.
After diagnosing the cause of vaginal bleeding, decide the treatment for spotting. If the symptoms persist, take a blood test, hormonal test and thyroid function tests for appropriate diagnosis. For in-depth analysis, pelvic MRI is advisable to get a clear picture of fibroids or cancer development.
When to Visit a Doctor for Spotting?
There is no reason to panic if you notice light bleeding before or after a few days of your period. Medical attention is required when you are passing large clots or changing a tampon every hour. In this case, you should see your doctor and diagnose the reason for unexplainable bleeding.
Women who are in their menopausal stage should be vigilant of spotting as it should not occur once the periods have stopped permanently. Go for a Pap smear test to get clarity on any cancerous development in the pelvic or cervix area. The test also gives a clear screening about any inflammation or infection causing agent.
Therefore, when you experience period spotting other than your normal menstrual cycle, flag the issue to your doctor. Below mentioned are some signs and signals that will help you to know when to visit the doctor for spotting:
- When you have more than one period in a month
- When you feel light-headed or dizzy during the day
- When you experience spotting after menopause
- When you experience severe lower abdominal pain and cramping
- When light periods cause nausea and fever
- When your sonography report shows Polycystic Ovarian Disease Syndrome (PCOS)
- When spotting occurs during pregnancy, especially during the first three months
These above symptoms can call for an emergency and need medical attention. Don’t experiment with treating the problem on your own. See your doctor soon to know about the relevant tests. At times tests are not required, and you can treat spotting issues with medication, healthy diet and exercise schedule.
Takeaway Thoughts on Spotting
The regularity of menstrualflow every month decides the reproductive health in a woman’s body. Changes in the period pattern can affect the quality of life. Whether it is frequent spotting, light periods or heavy flow, you should not ignore any of these three instances. Overthinking is also not the solution. Hence, balance it out! If you are worried about visiting a doctor, discuss the issue with your mother or a close friend. But, don’t experiment with medicines to treat the issue on your own.
Menstrual blood loss varies significantly based on many factors – age, marital status, food habits, nutrition etc. Spotting is one kind of occurrence that may or may not be due to an underlying serious ailment. Check with your parents for any hereditary disorders running in the family. With a history of cervical cancer, be cautious about your period symmetry till the age your menses permanently end.
Following are some general tips to win over the menstrual abnormalities such as sudden spotting:
Obesity is the root cause of future health risks. Women who are obese, face period problems. Control your body fats at the right age; otherwise, it may lead to late menopause, which has other disadvantages.
Do not be a victim of medications. If a pill has relieved you of period spotting or cramping once, don’t just depend on the medicine for immediate relief. Spotting may fade away on its own. So, keep patience and don’t fall prey to antibiotics.
Indulge in physical activities. Simple walking is also good to activate the pelvic floor muscles. Keeping the body stagnant will disrupt the production and balance of hormones that regulate periods.
Spotting or discharge in pregnant women is common. However, if you are in the initial pregnancy stage, discard food items causing heat in the body.
Install a period tracker on your mobile phone. In case, you come across spotting, before your period date; you will be able tonotice. The tracker clearly states the arrival date, ovulation dates and days when you are free. It is good to keep the app handy to record period abnormalities if any.
So, in totality, period spotting is a common issue that women experience until they are actively menstruating. As stated, if the symptoms persist, it should be brought to notice, diagnosed and treated at the right time.