Did you experience spotting or light bleeding when you were ovulating? According to a study, around 4.8% of women experience light spotting or bleeding in the middle of their menstrual cycles (1). While ovulation bleeding can happen, not all women may experience it.
But what is ovulation bleeding and why does it happen? In this MomJunction post, we answer these questions and more about ovulation bleeding.
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 risk||Reasons|
Trying new contraceptives
Taking birth control pills irregularly
Vaginal infections like candida or bacterial infection
|Low to medium-risk||Vaginal injury/ inserted an object into the vagina (retained tampon)|
|Medium-risk||Low thyroid levels|
Intake of anticoagulants
Cervical polyps or erosion
Impending miscarriage, or had an abortion recently
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Cervical/ vaginal infection
|Medium to high-risk||Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)|
|High-risk||Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)|
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
- 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.
[ Read: Brown Discharge During Pregnancy ]
Ovulation Spotting Vs. Implantation Spotting
|Ovulation spotting||Implantation spotting|
|Estrogen level changes or egg is released, rupturing the ovary and causing spotting||When a fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining, spotting occurs|
|Sign of fertility||Early 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
|Lighter flow||Heavier flow that needs a pad, menstrual cup or tampon|
|Pink, reddish or brown, occasional discomfort||Pink, reddish or brown, possible associated pain|
|Lasts for one to two days||Lasts around five to seven days (7)|
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.
If you experience regular bleeding or abnormally heavy bleeding between your periods, you should consult your healthcare provider. The timely diagnosis helps you understand why it is happening and lets you take the necessary steps to manage the potential cause.
[ Read: Bleeding After Sex During Pregnancy ]
Have you also experienced mid-cycle bleeding? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below.
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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