Experiencing some unexplained bleeding mid-cycle? It’s probably a spot of ovulation bleeding. Although it’s not very common, it is normal and usually nothing to worry about.
We’re diving into the topic of bleeding during ovulation, why it happens, how to tell if it’s happening to you, and what you can do about it.
What is ovulation and when does it happen?
Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovary during the menstrual cycle, and travels down the fallopian tube to be fertilised by a sperm (pregnancy) or in many cases, not be fertilised (no pregnancy), which leads to a period.
Ovulation happens around 12-16 days before the next period is due, and this can vary depending on the typical length of your cycle. Remember, it is at this point in time when you are most fertile and more likely to conceive than other times during the menstrual cycle (though you can become pregnant at any time).
There are a few signs that indicate you may be at the ovulation stage of the menstrual cycle, mainly an increase in cervical mucus (lovely!), an increase in body temperature due to the hormone progesterone, and in some cases a mild pain in the lower abdomen. In even fewer cases (around 5% of people who menstruate), this is accompanied by a small amount of menstrual blood, known as ovulation bleeding.
Ovulation bleeding happens most often as a result of quick fluctuations in hormones that occur during ovulation. Studies have found that those who experience ovulation bleeding may have higher levels of luteal progesterone and luteinizing hormone around this time of the month. In the lead up to ovulation, estrogen levels rise and then drop after the release of the egg. This is when progesterone levels begin to increase, and this shift between estrogen and progesterone can sometimes cause spotting.
Good question. It can be difficult to identify what counts as ovulation bleeding. Any light bleeding that happens outside of your regular periods is considered to be spotting, and this is usually much lighter than a period. One indication that you’re having ovulation bleeding is the colour of the blood. The colour of blood changes depending on the speed of the blood flow, and ovulation spotting is likely to be light pink or light red in colour. This shows the blood has mixed with the cervical fluid that increases when ovulation occurs.
If the bleeding you’re experiencing is light, pinkish in colour and happening around 12-16 days before your period usually begins, it’s possible that this is ovulation bleeding.
Some people experience ovulation bleeding as standard every month, and if this is the case for you, there’s probably nothing to worry about. It’s just a regular part of hormone fluctuations, and as long as there are no accompanying symptoms concerning you, you can treat this as part of your typical menstrual cycle.
If you have begun bleeding between periods without an explanation, there could be another reason for this, and while it may not be anything serious or worrying, it’s always best to get checked by your GP to make sure.
Reach out to a healthcare professional if you are also experiencing other changes in your usual pattern of bleeding. This could be changes in the amount of blood (becoming heavier or lighter), any excessive bleeding (soaking a tampon or pad every 2 hours, or any large clots), painful periods or pelvic pain, or another symptom that you believe needs to be checked by a doctor. It’s better to be on the safe side and check over anything unusual.
There is no evidence to suggest that those who experience ovulation bleeding are more likely to experience fertility issues. Those who have higher levels of luteal progesterone and luteinizing hormone are more likely to experience ovulation bleeding, but having higher or lower levels of these hormones has not been found to make a person more or less likely to conceive.
To make sure that what you’re experiencing is in fact ovulation bleeding, you may find it helpful to start tracking any and all symptoms you have using a calendar, diary or app. This will help you ensure you have a note of the general pattern of bleeding if you choose to visit the doctor, to give them all the information. This will also help you be prepared for bleeding each month.
Ovulation spotting can be dealt with in much the same way as a period can, but if you’re experiencing only a small amount of blood you may not want to use a tampon; this can dry out the vagina if there’s not enough blood to soak up. Instead, opt for a sanitary towel or a liner to catch anything before it stains your underwear. Otherwise, go forth and enjoy your month as normal!
Do you have a question about ovulation bleeding? Shout out in our private Facebook group or drop us a note on Insta @itsyoppie. Don't forget that our personalised period box can get organic tampons, PMS supplements and much more delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox. That's one less thing to worry about each month, what with everything else you've already got going on.
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