Ovulation Bleeding: Is It Normal? Causes And Symptoms

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Ovulation bleeding is characterized by light bleeding or spotting during or around ovulation. While some women experience ovulation bleeding, not all women experience it. According to a study, about 4.8% of women experience light spotting or bleeding right in the middle of their menstrual cycles (1).

In this post, we tell you what is ovulation bleeding, its possible causes, and some other signs and symptoms of ovulation.

Is Bleeding Or Spotting During Ovulation Normal?

Yes, spotting or bleeding during ovulation can be quite normal for some women. It can happen at different times during the cycle and due to varying reasons. There is no sure way to know if what you are experiencing is menstrual spotting or implantation bleeding.

Possible Causes Of Bleeding During Ovulation

Although there could be many probable causes for ovulation bleeding, there are two known reasons that certainly result in bleeding or spotting during ovulation (2):

A drop in the estrogen levels during ovulation makes the uterine lining to decrease in thickness and shed the tissue. This could result in bleeding from the uterus around the time of ovulation.

When the egg is released, the ovaries rupture and bleed, letting the blood pass through the follicle tubes.

Other reasons that cause bleeding or spotting during ovulation are as follows:

Type of riskReasons
Low-riskFirst period

Trying new contraceptives

Taking birth control pills irregularly

Vaginal dryness

Delayed ovulation

Vaginal infections like candida or bacterial infection

Low to medium-riskVaginal injury/ inserted an object into the vagina (retained tampon)

Urethral prolapse

Perimenopausal spotting

Impregnation

Medium-riskLow thyroid levels

Pregnancy loss

Intake of anticoagulants

Cervical polyps or erosion

Impending miscarriage, or had an abortion recently

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Cervical/ vaginal infection

Medium to high-riskSexually transmitted diseases (STD)

Ovarian cyst

Uterine fibroids

Polyps

Adenomyosis

High-riskPelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Ectopic pregnancy

Cervical/ vaginal/ uterine cancer

When you know how to identify ovulation bleeding, you can get medical attention in time and deal with the underlying condition before it gets worse.

What Does Ovulation Bleeding Look Like?

Ovulation bleeding is lesser than menstrual bleeding, and it is either light pink or dark brownish red. It accompanies cervical mucus and mild menstrual-like pain.

Is Ovulation Bleeding Or Spotting A Sign Of Fertility?

Though ovulation bleeding or spotting can be a positive sign, not every woman experiences it, and therefore cannot be a reliable sign of fertility. Understanding your ovulation by tracking the dates or using ovulation predictor tests is a better way to know. Indulging in sex when you are closer to ovulation will increase your chances of conception.

When Does Ovulation Spotting Occur?

Ovulation spotting usually occurs before, after or during ovulation, which is anytime between 11 and 21 days after the first day of your last period. It might also happen sooner or later depending on the length of the menstrual cycle (3).

Other Signs And Symptoms Of Ovulation

Ovulation spotting may or may not occur, but the other associated symptoms include (4):

  • Increased cervical fluid that looks similar to egg white
  • Cervical changes especially its position and firmness
  • Changes in basal temperature of the body
  • Dull pain at one side of the abdomen
  • Increased libido
  • Breast tenderness
  • Higher levels of luteinizing hormones measured with ovulation test
  • Bloating
  • A heightened sense of smell, taste, and vision

If you see these signs, know that you could be ovulating and that it is the right time to try to conceive.

If bleeding or spotting is the only symptom you notice, then you may not know whether it is ovulation spotting or implantation spotting or menstrual period. Knowing the difference helps.

Ovulation Spotting Vs. Implantation Spotting

Ovulation spottingImplantation spotting
Estrogen level changes or egg is released, rupturing the ovary and causing spottingWhen a fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining, spotting occurs
Sign of fertilityEarly sign of pregnancy (6)
Happens around 14 – 15 days before menstrual due date (in a regular cycle) (5)Happens one to three days before the menstrual due date

Ovulation Spotting Vs. Period

Ovulation spottingPeriod
Lighter flowHeavier flow that needs a pad, menstrual cup or tampon
Pink, reddish or brown, occasional discomfortPink, reddish or brown, possible associated pain
Lasts for one to two daysLasts around five to seven days (7)

Ovulation Bleeding And Pregnancy – How Are They Related?

Since ovulation bleeding indicates fertility, it is the right time to try and conceive. Getting a confirmation from the doctor that mid-cycle bleeding is not a complication, and is a sign of ovulation could help you determine the right time to have sex, to increase the chances of pregnancy.

When Should You Take A Pregnancy Test?

You may take a home pregnancy test around a week after you miss your period. This would be around 20 days after ovulation bleeding.

A pregnancy test detects the amount of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in urine. The hormonal levels are too low early in pregnancy, but they rise quickly eventually. Therefore, taking the test too soon can result in a false-negative. If the test results appear favorable, consider an appointment with your doctor to confirm your pregnancy.

Next, we answer a few commonly asked queries on ovulation bleeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long should ovulation bleeding last?

Ovulation bleeding usually lasts for a few hours to a day, but in some women, it may extend to two or three days (8).

2. Does ovulation bleeding mean you are pregnant?

Ovulation bleeding in the middle of the menstrual cycle does not mean you are pregnant. It means you might be fertile.

3. What if you experience severe bleeding while ovulating?

Severe bleeding and pain for more than one cycle could indicate a complication such as endometriosis, irritable cervix, or polyps in the uterus. Doctor consultation and follow-up tests will help in getting the right diagnosis.

4. Can brown spotting during ovulation indicate the right time for conception?

Brown spotting during ovulation could be an ideal time for you to conceive (4). But, if you also have any vaginal irritation along with brown spotting, it could suggest a pathological issue.

Ovulation bleeding may be confused with period bleeding if you are unaware of the subtle yet distinctive signs and differences. Ovulation bleeding differs from period bleeding in its color, flow, and occurrence time. This bleeding or spotting is normal in some women and can be a good indication of fertility, allowing you to plan your intercourse for a successful pregnancy. However, it may also indicate an underlying issue. Therefore it is important to keep track of your period date. If you experience abnormal or irregular bleeding, consult your healthcare provider to determine the cause and manage the condition.

Have you also experienced mid-cycle bleeding? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below.

Key Pointers

  • A small amount of bleeding or spotting during ovulation is quite common.
  • Estrogen levels drop during ovulation, causing the uterine lining to weaken and shed tissue, resulting in bleeding.
  • But spotting cannot be considered a surefire sign to confirm fertility.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. S. S. Dasharathy et al.; Menstrual Bleeding Patterns Among Regularly Menstruating Women; Am J Epidemiol (2012)
2. K. A. Oriel & S. Schrager; Abnormal Uterine Bleeding; American Academy of Family Physicians (1999)
3. Karen Clark et al.; Open Cycle: Forecasting Ovulation for Family Planning; SMU Data Science Review (2018)
4. Kaitlin Penley; Fertility Diet: Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
5. The timing of the “fertile window” in the menstrual cycle: day specific estimates from a prospective study; BMJ (2000)
6. What are some common signs of pregnancy? NIH (2017)
7. Menstrual Cycle: An Overview; The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
8. Narendra Malhotra et al.; Jeffcoate’s Principles of Gynaecology; page 719
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Dr. Anita Gondy

(MD, FACOG)
Dr. Anita Gondy is an Ob/Gyn at The Ob-Gyn Center in Las Vegas. In practice since 1998, Dr. Gondy began her medical training at Rangaraya Medical College in Kakinada, India and completed studies at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, where she also did an obstetrics and gynecology residency. She is also a Fellow member of The American College... more

Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She has been into health and wellness writing since 2010. She received her graduate degree in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig... more