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What’s The Difference Between Periods And Spotting?

What’s The Difference Between Periods And Spotting?

You head to the washroom to pee and you see it; a reddish-brown spot right on your favourite underwear and you ask yourself…. Isn’t my period date almost 2 and a half weeks away? That’s okay, you don’t have to freak out, we all have been there. It’s pretty usual for women to experience at least one instance of non-period spotting and for some, spotting is quite common. Well, if you want to know more about spotting and how it is different from menstrual periods, here are some insights. Keep on reading, to find out the difference between periods and spotting, their causes and when to consult a doctor. 

What is Spotting?

Spotting is usually defined as light vaginal bleeding that happens outside of your menstrual period dates. Basically, spotting involves small amounts of blood, just like the way it happens when you menstruate but in a very different way. You may notice it on your underwear before you pee and it usually requires a panty liner if you need protection and not a pad or tampon. Spotting as the name suggests is very minor and using a tampon or a pad would be just wasting them. 

What Are Periods?

Periods or the menstrual period refers to the monthly vaginal bleeding that is experienced by women who come of reproductive age. So, a typical menstrual cycle lasts 28 days and the menstrual bleeding is heavy enough to require the use of a sanitary pad or tampon and lasts for 3-5 days on average. 

If we talk about anatomy, a period happens because of changes in hormones in the body. The ovaries release the female hormones which causes the lining of the uterus to build up. This built-up lining is ready for a fertilized egg to attach to and start developing. If the egg is not fertile, the lining breaks down and bleeds. This process repeats every 4 to 5 weeks. 

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The Difference

The basic and most effective way to tell the difference between spotting and a period is by the amount of blood released. A period can last for more than 4 days and require feminine menstrual products like sanitary pads or tampons. Unlike periods, spotting produces much lesser blood and doesn’t require pads or tampons, a panty liner would be sufficient and apt to keep your panty clean. Most women generally are aware of when their period will start and how long it’ll last, so if you notice bleeding off cycle but it’s not as heavy as your regular period, then it’s likely to be spotting.

One alternate way to know the difference between spotting and period is by the colour of the blood produced. Basically, the colour of the blood produced during your period often is darker than the blood that appears when you’re spotting. 


Firstly, periods are regular for every other woman of reproductive age other than those who are pregnant or are suffering from health complications. Basically, there are no particular causes to have periods. If you are a woman and are of a particular reproductive age then that’s obvious to have periods and if you don’t, then consult a doctor immediately.

Now coming to spotting, there are several reasons you might experience spotting before your period. One popular cause is menstruation, yes, we have earlier mentioned that spotting is different from your period, well it definitely is! But at the start of your periods, you may find that you have some spotting which is totally normal. Other than that, implantation, abnormal pregnancy, infections or diseases can be the case. 

When To Consult A Doc?

While you should totally feel free to call your doc anytime you have a health-related question or concern, it’s also helpful to know when spotting is a cause for real concern. If you experience spotting on a regular basis, you should schedule an appointment to see your doctor. Or if you have concerns about you being pregnant or if you have had unprotected sex and start spotting then it is well advised to discuss these concerns with your doc. 

Every woman’s cycle varies, and they may occasionally experience spotting between periods at some point of their life. However, if it becomes a regular occurrence, there could be a serious health issue that needs to be addressed. If you have irregular bleeding, don’t wait too long to see a doctor. Consulting a doc can actually help you prevent unwanted stress and health complications. 



Content Writer at Clovia
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