Light Spotting a Few Days Before Period

Over the last six months I’ve started to experience lightbrown spotting period spotting a couple of days before each period begins. The spotting is very light and is usually a brownish colour (or sometimes red). I notice a small brown (or red) smear on the toilet paper after using the toilet. The bleeding is very minimal (I don’t need a pantiliner or anything). I usually feel completely fine, although I once had a very slightly upset/crampy stomach around that time.

I actually quite like this light discharge – it reminds me that my period is about to begin so I need to get prepared (e.g. sterilize my menstrual cup & make sure I take my menstrual cup in my handbag when I go to work). It also gives me a heads up if my period will be starting earlier than usual. My cycle is usually 27-28 days, however this month it was only 25 days – so when I had spotting at day 23 I knew that my period would be coming several days earlier than expected.

I’ve been menstruating for about 13 years and this has spotting has only been happening over the last 6 months, so it is a surprising change for me. It’s not something I’ve heard about before. Do many other women experience this spotting a few days before their period begins?

The Livestrong website states, “For some women, menstrual flow may be preceded by light, intermittent bleeding, called premenstrual spotting. This can be a normal occurrence that doesn’t signal a problem, but in rare cases it may indicate a hormonal imbalance or other health problem.”

Causes of spotting a few days before menstruation:

Dr  Mary Helgeson states, “During the menstrual cycle, the uterine cervix is tightly closed and blocked by a mucous plug, which prevents infection from penetrating into the uterus. Immediately after ovulation, the female reproductive system prepares for pregnancy – the uterus gathers fluid and swells, and an extra lining layer on which the fertilized zygote should entrench itself is formed. However, due to family planning and prevention of unintended pregnancy, the egg dies and tears away together with the additional epithelium of the uterus and its blood vessels. Since the reproductive system must be cleansed of the blood and dead cells, the cervix slightly opens its canal. With insufficient plasticity of the cervical muscles, this process can take up to 2-3 days during which there a slight spotting is noticed. Therefore, the appearance of red or brown discharge 2 to 3 days before menstruation can be considered a normal phenomenon. Such phenomena are particularly peculiar to teenage girls and women of 30-35 years old with no children.”

Several other sources indicates that pre-menstrual bleeding can be a result of progesterone levels dropping a bit prematurely (and briefly) before menstruation properly begins. I don’t really like the sound of that. That makes it seem like my body is ill-functioning and has forgotten how to menstruate properly! Who knows. I like to think that my body is functioning perfectly fine & that it is sending me this pre-period spotting simply as a friendly warning that my period is coming soon (so that I won’t be caught out when it really does come!)

Spotting a few days before a period starts may be linked with minor infertility:

According to Beyond Fertility, spotting before a period can be due to “implantation, from a cyst or a short luteal phase and impaired egg quality…  Spotting before your menstruation is common but not ideal.   A period ideally should freely flow once started… One common cause of spotting several days before the menstrual cycle is due is low progesterone. It is the hormone progesterone that helps to maintain the uterine lining for pregnancy. When pregnancy occurs the progesterone should keep the lining in place and fluffed up to hold on and nest the new life. In a cycle without the occurrence of pregnancy, progesterone begins to diminish and and when the progesterone level drops the lining is no longer held in place and the menstrual cycle occurs. In women who are deficient in progesterone, they will see spotting several days to a week before their cycle is due. This can also cause minor infertility and early miscarriage. Both are symptoms of low progesterone.”

And according to Ovulation Calculator, “Typically when a woman spots for more than a few days right before their period, a shortened luteal phase is to blame. For a healthy pregnancy doctors like the luteal phase to be between 12-16 days in length. Doctors also agree that most of the time, a luteal phase that is less than 9 days long becomes problematic in terms of being able to get pregnant. This is because in order for an egg to have the opportunity to implant itself into the uterus, the uterine lining has to be primed and ready. And, for the uterus to be fertility friendly, the body has to have enough time produce progesterone to support a pregnancy before the capillaries of the uterine lining start to shed (menstruation). When spotting occurs, it is often a sign that the uterine wall has started to shed before the ovaries were able to successfully produce the needed amounts of progesterone. Sadly, when this happens, it is often hard to get pregnant…. The good thing here is that your doctor has many options at his/her fingertips to help lengthen your luteal phase. Among those include products such as FertilAid, progesterone cream, HCG injections to stimulate the ovaries and/or drugs such as Clomid. So if your cycle seems normal and you find that you are spotting before your period, doctors say not to worry about it………. unless of course you have been trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a long time. However, if you think your luteal phase may be on the shorter end, you will want to check with your doctor about your TTC (trying to conceive) treatment options.”

I don’t know whether this is true or not. I certainly hope that spotting a few days before menstruation has absolutely no correlation with impaired fertility. I’ve always believed that I was quite fertile but now I’m slightly worried.

How common is pre-menstrual spotting?

I found some interesting discussions online involving other women who experience this pre-menstrual spotting. Some of the women had experienced this spotting as far back as they could remember, however others only started spotting regularly some years after they had started menstruating. Some of their comments are below:

“I have had my period for many years now and my period never starts full-blown.  I usually get a bit of a brown discharge and then it starts a day or so later.”

“I experience the same thing – 3-5 days before my period I get a brown discharge.”

“Hi its perfectly normal to get this before your period comes.Im 35 and this has been happening for a while now,I normally have it 2 days before my period comes.”

“I always have brown spotting the day before my period.  Isn’t that normal?”

“I have always had that 2, sometimes 3 days before my period…  It didn’t cause any problems for me as I got pregnant after 1 cycle both times.”

“I have that 2 days every month before my period as well. I think its normal.”

“I had the brownish spotting for 1-2 days every period since they started at 14 until I had kids. No fertility problems or fibroids, etc. Sounds like there’s a wide range of experiences with this type of spotting.”

“I have 5 kids and have always had a 31 day or so cycle with an 11 day luteal phase. I often spot sometimes a week before my period actually starts! … Don’t be alarmed by the scientific nature of some medical opinions / facts. We are all different and will conceive differently too!”

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12 Responses to Light Spotting a Few Days Before Period

  1. Vas says:

    Thank for gathering all this information.
    I have also notice spotting for about the last 6 months or so. I started to try to find more about this mostly since I dont know how to count my period and thus not sure about ovulation day.

  2. tbaby86 says:

    Hi I am experiencing the same thing too I am so worried been having brownish discharge few days before my period and it was never like dat wat could be the cause

  3. MS says:

    So just a question, how do you differentiate this from implantation bleeding? I get incredibly paranoid even though my gf tells me to chill because we haven’t done anything that could cause a pregnancy but you know..nerves haha

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have experienced premenstrual spotting or light red spotting on toilet paper or on my pads. Usually it is a reddish/brown color as described in the article. Usually the pre-spotting happens 3 to 5 days before my period begins. I am glad that this helps me find out when my period will be coming,it gives me a good idea of when I need to prepare for it in case if I forget to mark my calendar every 28 days of the cycle.

  5. Mariel says:

    Thank you for this! i have been spotting since a few months ago (4-5).. I was worried because I want to have a family soon, i stopped taking the pill but I hope everything is okay!!..i have a doctors appoiment to see whats going on.

  6. Mel says:

    Hi all, I’ve been TTC, and this month I’ve experienced light pink spotting 3 days before my period is due and light red spotting today 2 days before my period is due. No cramps or discomfort just enough to show on toilet paper. In addition around ovulation I had tender and painful pains in my breast… I’m nervous that this is all a cause for concern. Any ideas as to the cause? Should I reach out to my obgyn?

  7. Abby says:

    Thank you so much for gathering all this information in one place. I thought I was alone on this, as it started happening only a few years ago (age 30, starting menstruating at age 12).

    I have donated my eggs six times and finished doing this about a year ago (wonderful experience, BTW). I made the decision to stay off birth control after this (been a year off now) and it has been interesting experiencing my cycle hormone free. It was a little scary at first to notice bleeding that was non-period bleeding. I was worried that my body/hormones were thrown off by the egg donations or something worse — but it felt so natural that I didn’t worry too much. Reading different things online, especially this article, puts me more at ease. I also really love the little “warning” that my body seems to give me by lightly spotting 2-3 days before my actual cycle begins! When it does, the first day is still light, and then around day 2-3 it gets heavier.

    I also sometimes notice a very tiny spot or two around mid-cycle, which I’m beginning to think is due to ovulating (which I never did on the pill obviously). Do you experience this as well, or just the pre-menstrual spotting? (ps — I also use a menstrual cup and have had it for over 10 years now! :)

  8. phemelo says:

    I never had any spottings and recently I bleeded three days before my periods due date what could be a problem

  9. Amulen edina mary says:

    i recieved my periods on 16th this month,but iwas supposed to begin on this normal

  10. Shaly says:

    When the uterus is not in its place, spotting may occur. For this (God Willing), you may do the following (found on the internet): Maya Abdominal Massage Self Care Techniques The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Massage ™ are centered around the ancient Mayan techniques, which reposition organs that have dropped and restricted the flow of blood, lymph, nerve & chi energy. As with any other natural healing, Arvigo Techniques seek to restore the body to its natural balance. This technique is provided for therapeutic self care only and is intended to be used in conjunction with treatments from a professional or certified Maya Abdominal Massage practitioner. Consult for a list of qualified practitioners. To Prepare • Empty your bladder and create a quiet, peaceful environment to relax for 5-10 minutes (just before bedtime is perfect!). • Wear loose fitting clothing with no zippers or buttons over the abdomen. • Lie on your back and place a pillow under your head and your knees to soften your abdominal muscles. (If you have uterine prolapse, it may also be helpful to place a pillow under your hips to elevate your pelvis.) • Breathe deeply and slowly for a few moments until you feel relaxed. Self Care Massage Techniques Lower Abdominal 1. Bring both of your hands together with your index fingers side by side and tuck one thumb under the other. Bring all eight fingers close together, slightly bent and relaxed. See diagram. 2. Through your clothing or a sheet, or with oiled fingers, locate where your pubic bones meet in the middle with your index fingers, and place these fingers on the small indent. Inhale and as you exhale, slowly slide off the top of your pubic bones while keeping your fingernails in contact with the bones. Press as deeply as it is comfortable for you into the soft tissue space above your pubic bone. See Diagram. (If your uterus is too low, you will feel resistance like the consistency of a water balloon.) 3. While maintaining the same pressure, gently and slowly move your fingertips toward your navel. Repeat this stroke from your pubic bone to your navel a total of 3 times. 4. With the same hand position, move your fingertips to one side of your pelvis with the little finger of one hand on the pubic bone and the other little finger on your hip bone. Again bring all eight fingers close together, slightly bent and relaxed. Inhale and as you exhale, slowly slide off the bones and press as deeply as it is comfortable for you into the soft tissue space of the pelvic bowl. 5. While maintaining the same pressure, gently and slowly move your fingertips toward the midline. Repeat this stroke a total of 3 times. 6. Repeat #4 and #5 on the other side of the pelvis. If your uterus is tilted to the left or right, you will feel resistance like the consistency of a water balloon before you get to the midline. 7. Repeat #2 through #6 2 more times, and then repeat #2 and #3 a final time for a total of 30 strokes. 8. Open your hands, reaching as far as possible without lifting your head, and place them flat over the groin where your legs join your pelvis on each side. Stroke softly 4-5 times over your skin and the underlying inguinal lymph nodes toward your abdomen. Continue the same strokes down both inner thighs along the lymph nodes, repeating this stroke 5 times. Upper Abdominal 1. Apply oil or lotion to your fingertips. Make an “M” (for Maya!) with your hands by facing the palms of your hands toward each other and curling your fingers so that the fingernails of all eight fingers touch. Place your fingertips on the center of your upper abdomen just below the ribcage. Inhale, and as you exhale, press as deeply as it is comfortable for you into the soft tissue space. While maintaining the same pressure, gently and slowly move your fingertips toward your navel. Repeat this stroke from your rib cage to your navel a total of 3 times. 2. Place your fingertips on one side of your upper abdomen just below the ribcage. Inhale and as you exhale, press as deeply as it is comfortable for you into the soft tissue space. While maintaining the same pressure, gently and slowly move your fingertips diagonally toward your navel. Repeat this stroke from your rib cage to your navel for a total of 3 times. 3. Repeat # 2 on the other side of the upper abdomen. Then repeat #1, #2, and #3, ending with #1 for a total of 30 strokes. If you find areas of tenderness, pain or congestion, adapt your pressure so that you can continue to relax. Breathe and continue to massage the area. If pain persists, even with a light touch, stop for now. If you experience pain initially, it should gradually diminish with each self care massage. Simply follow these instructions as best you can. After practicing the self care day for several days, you will become more familiar with the massage and more confident in your touch. If you continue to have difficulty, contact your Maya Abdominal Massage practitioner. After Self Care • Drink plenty of water to hydrate your body and support the healing process. Thank yourself for taking the time to take care of yourself. • Honor your experience by paying attention to the changes and responding with what you need. For example, write your feelings in your journal or diary or share them with a trusted friend or therapist. • Repeat the self care massage everyday except 5 days prior to and during your period or for 30 days, and then reduce to 2-3 times a week for your health. When To Modify or Avoid Self Care Massage • 5 days prior to and during your menstrual bleeding, do not deeply massage the uterus, but you may continue doing # 8 over the lymph nodes and the upper abdominal massage. It is okay to very gently and superficially massage over the uterine area prior to and during your period. • During pregnancy, self care massage can be appropriately adapted for your trimester of pregnancy. Consult your Maya Abdominal Massage practitioner for more information. • After abdominal surgery, you must wait until the tissue has healed, and your physician has cleared you for normal activity. For example, with Cesarean birth and hysterectomy, 8-10 weeks after surgery is usually recommended. • If you are taking pain medications or other substances that may mask discomfort and pain, self care massage is contraindicated. • If you have an intra uterine device (IUD) for birth control, #1-6 are contraindicated. • If you are under treatment for abdominal or pelvic infection or cancer, self care massage is contraindicated. • If you experience intense emotional pain during the self care, it is important that you seek professional support to help you pass through the gates of emotional healing. Please consult your Maya Abdominal Massage practitioner for guidance and referral. • If you experience intense pain or discomfort during the self care massage or have a sudden onset of abdominal pain, please consult your Maya Abdominal Massage practitioner who will recommend that you see your physician before continuing the self care massage.

  11. anonymous says:

    hi I like to remain anonymous :)
    I’m a 20 year old female and my period has been really strange month…… boyfriend and I had sex on the first of November and the condom slipped and
    I took the pill few hours later!
    one the 17th of November I experienced really bad pains in my tummy and I had a brown discharge and the next day like a dark brown red blood but very light compared to my normal periods and it lasted light for about 3 days! can anyone
    Please help me as to what going on…….am I pregnant or is this just a messed up cycle?

  12. Roisin says:

    Last while my periods being weird, not lasting as long. Etc. got last period 15th of Dec. 2015. Had unprotected sex with my partner 24th& 27th Dec. He ejaculated twice. 7and 8 Jan 2016 like a light period? Light red, noticed this time no headaches, or cramps. Periods due 11th/12th of Jan… Could I be pregnant? If so when could I take a pregnancy test to make sure?
    Await ur reply
    Roisin. Meath Ireland

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