Does Spotting Count As Your Period?

Knowing everything about your menstrual cycle is very important, as it will let you take the necessary decisions about planning a family. On average, a menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days. Menstrual bleeding which occurs at the very beginning of a menstrual cycle lasts approximately about 3 to 5 days, sometimes even longer. However, some women experience spotting just before the menstrual period begins. Does the spotting count as period?

Does Spotting Count as Your Period?

No, spotting does not count as a menstrual period. A menstrual period is considered only when the real blood is noticed.

What Is the Difference Between Spotting and a Period?

Spotting and menstrual periods can be easily confused in certain cases. The main thing that differs spotting and a menstrual period is the quantity of blood loss.

Spotting is characterized by a small amount of blood loss which is irregular, occurring from time to time. You can notice a spotting after sexual intercourse and vigorous physical exercise, or when wiping after using a toilet. A fresh pink to reddish stain and sometimes an old brown blood might be noticed on your underwear.

In general, you will only need a panty liner in order to stay fresh and keep your underwear stains-free. However, if there is more blood than normal, for which a panty liner will not do, and instead you need to use a tampon or a pad to collect it, it’s less likely you are spotting. If you are bleeding so much, it is more likely you are heaving a menstrual period.

Why Is There Spotting Before Period?

Irregular Menstrual Cycle

Having an irregular menstrual cycle often leads to brown spotting before the real menstrual blood flow starts. In irregular menstrual cycles due to hormone imbalance, a failure to ovulate is common, especially during puberty and just before menopause. However, these irregular cycles with ovulation failure can occur at any time during a women’s life due to stress, extreme dieting, different illnesses, etc.

Birth Control Methods

Does spotting count as your period? No, spotting does not count as a period. Some birth control methods used by women can lead to spotting before a menstrual period. Spotting is common among women who use copper IUD, mini pills containing only progesterone, depot shots and birth control implants. Rarely, vaginal rings, or birth control pills containing both estrogen and progesterone can lead to spotting before a menstrual period really starts.

Spotting due to using different birth control methods is more likely to occur within the first 3 months of using them. When taking birth control pills, spotting is more likely to occur when these pills are not taken at the exact time every day or if a day is skipped.

Injury and Infection

Any injury to the cervix or vagina can lead to spotting. This is more likely to occur due to vigorous sexual intercourse or vaginal examination and testing such as Pap test. Spotting can occur on the same day or a couple of days later.

Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, chlamydia or bacterial vaginosis, can lead to spotting as well. Proper medical treatment of these infections can resolve the problem.


Does spotting count as your period? No. In cases of a pregnancy, especially during the time when the embryo gets attached to the uterine wall, spotting can occur. This is known as implantation bleeding, and it is possible to be as a brown vaginal discharge or as a bright red blood.


Other possible causes of spotting include endometriosis, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, uterine polyps, uterine fibroids, etc. Polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid diseases, bleeding disorders, and endocrine conditions, may also lead to spotting.

Sometimes, other types of bleeding such as lower intestinal bleeding, hemorrhoids, etc., might be mistakenly considered as spotting.

When to See a Doctor

If you are experiencing light spotting every now and then which is not accompanied by other signs and symptoms, there is no need for concern. However, if spotting tends to become frequent and is accompanied by other signs and symptoms, you should better seek medical help.

Emergency medical help is needed in cases when spotting is accompanied by severe pain, when spotting progresses into heavy bleeding, if you experience dizziness or if you notice large blood clots in your pad. Medical attention is also required if you notice spotting after using any of the above-mentioned birth control methods longer than 3 months.

What Can You Do with the Spotting?

Does spotting count as your period? No. Keeping a spotting diary might be helpful, especially if spotting turns out to be common occurring every now and then. By keeping a good track of your spotting, it will be easier for your doctor to determine the nature of this spotting and any possible problems with your menstrual cycle.

If you and your partner are trying to conceive, this can be quite tricky when spotting occurs before the real menstrual period begins, as you can often mistakenly consider spotting as a period. For this purpose, it is recommended to use ovulation predictor kits or measure your body basal temperature to find out the ovulation time. Consulting your Ob-Gyn is necessary if you are planning a pregnancy.

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