While spotting between periods or just before your period starts may be nothing to worry about, it can in some cases be a symptom of a health problem, such as a thyroid disorder or cervical cancer.
Spotting is considered minimal vaginal bleeding. It might stain a pad, or require a light tampon, but nothing more, says Sherry Ross, MD, an ob-gyn in Santa Monica, California, and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period.
Occasional spotting is not a cause for concern. “Some women have light spotting on either side of their period instead of a full day of bleeding,” she says, “while others will have spotting in the middle of the cycle during ovulation.” It might happen for no apparent reason; or it could be due to a lifestyle change that messed with your cycle, like international travel or a tweak to your diet, says Dr. Ross: “A little disruption of your period usually isn’t anything to worry about.”
But if your spotting has been happening consistently for several months—or you’re worried about it for any reason—bring it up with your gynecologist, says Dr. Ross. She can help you figure out what’s going on down there. Here are a few of the possibilities.