Spotting but no Period: Causes, Treatment

Spotting but no Period

As usual, in this blog, I regularly update everyday questions asked by my patients and close friends. I got an email from a friend asking what’s the cause of Spotting but no period?

She is 45 years old, married, already has four kids, and intermittently have mild lower abdominal pain. Also, she is searching for another baby which has really got her concerned about any change in her reproductive tract.

Luckily, she picked up my call, and I was able to ask her further questions. In the end, I noticed she was not pregnant but was already experiencing some perimenopausal symptoms.

Spotting but no period could mean many things. And depending on your age, and if you regularly have unprotected intercourse, it could also signify pregnancy.

I know for young ladies, missing your period, especially when you are not planning for a baby can be traumatizing. If you have, and instead get brown spotting, it is possible you are pregnant.

If you are trying to conceive, there is a chance that your spotting instead of your period, is likely as a result of pregnancy.

But there are also other causes of spotting but no period. It could be as mild as vaginal infections or uterine fibroids. In some severe cases, it could result from cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or hormone imbalance.

I have put up this guide to help you determine the reason you are spotting instead of your period. But, as always, it’s best to see your doctor as early as you can.

This post explains the common causes of spotting but no period.


Spotting instead of your period: 2 Important questions

If you are spotting yet no period, it is important you try to answer the following questions on your own. This will help streamline the reason you are having spotting.

When did you notice the spotting?

The timing of the spotting is important as well. Did you notice spotting right before your period or after a missed period? Have you been experiencing spotting in between your periods?

If you have noticed vaginal spotting just before your period, and suddenly you missed your period, it is likely that you may be pregnant.

If you’ve missed your period and you are spotting, there is a possibility that you are already pregnant and having a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or vaginal infections.

If you’ve regularly noticed vaginal spotting throughout your menstrual cycle, then it is likely you are not pregnant. It could be a fibroid, endometrial hyperplasia or cancer affecting the uterus or cervix.

How heavy is the bleeding?

Another important question, of course, is the flow. Is flow light or heavy? Is flow as heavy as your menstrual period?

Again, if you have light spotting, and it is happening before your period, it is likely an early sign that you may be pregnant.

Other causes of light vaginal spotting are small uterine fibroids, vaginal infections, contraceptives, vaginal tear during intercourse, and sexually transmitted infections

If bleeding is heavy and like your period, it is important you see a doctor right away. It could be a uterine fibroid, a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or something serious.


So, what causes spotting but no period?

If you’ve been able to answer the above questions, its time to walk you through in details the reason you are spotting but no period.

Here are the ten most common causes you should know

1.  Pregnancy

Yes, as previously mentioned, spotting instead of your period can be a sign that you are already pregnant. So, if you are expecting, it is important you take a test right away.

But just a second before I explain how pregnancy causes spotting, it is important you answer these questions to determine if you are pregnant

Have you been involved in regular unprotected sexual intercourse? If yes, you are likely pregnant

Is this the first time you are experiencing spotting? If yes, then there is a chance you are pregnant

Is spotting light, brown, pinkish, or reddish? If yes, it is possible that you are pregnant

Do you feel tired, fatigued, nausea, vomiting, back pain, mild belly cramps, increased appetite, increased urination, mood swings? If yes, it is possible that you are pregnant

Is your vaginal discharge watery and excessive? if yes, it is possible that you may be pregnant

Did you miss your period? If yes, its time to take a pregnancy test

So, how does pregnancy cause vaginal spotting?

If you’ve been pregnant before it is possible you never had spotting as a sign of pregnancy. In fact, it can easily be missed because it is just a light bleeding or brown discharge that could be ignored.

Most times, women do not experience spotting as a sign of pregnancy. Only about 25 percent of women would have had spotting as a sign of pregnancy.

This spotting results from what is called implantation spotting.

If you are confused, let me explain.

After an unprotected sexual activity, your male partner’s sperm moves into the fallopian tube (a tube-like extension of the uterus)

At the uterus, it fuses with an egg forming an embryo. Later on, the embryo is slowly transported to the uterus where it is fitted into a thicked endometrium already covering the inside of the uterus.

This endometrium is a thickened blood filled layer of the uterus. If you do not get pregnant, it is actually washed out as your period.

During pregnancy, as the embryo is slowly fitted into the endometrium, it bleeds slightly into the uterus and down to your vagina. This is called implantation bleeding.

If you are experiencing spotting but no period, it could be implantation spotting.

Here are the most characteristic signs of implantation spotting

  • It is lighter than your period
  • It only lasts a few days compared to your period. At most, one or two days
  • You may feel cramps just before your period
  • You may also begin to experience other sign of pregnancy – waist pain, vomiting, food aversion, increased appetite, breast pain and so on

What to do?

It is quite difficult if you are expecting and yet not sure if spotting is due to pregnancy. I recommend you take a pregnancy test first and then see your doctor right away.

If you’ve tested, and you still get a negative result, despite having other signs of pregnancy, it could happen because of a wrong technique or if the test was carried out too early.

So, wait for a few weeks and take another pregnancy test. If you still get a negative result, you are not pregnant. Here are other reasons for vaginal spotting

2. Uterine fibroids

Another cause of spotting instead of your period is uterine fibroids. If you are not familiar with the term, they are non-cancerous growths that occur in the uterus. It could appear inside the uterus, in the muscle of the uterus or even outside of the uterus.

These growths, medically called fibroids, can trigger bleeding in a lot of women. It could be a mild recurrent bleeding or heavy vaginal bleeding that may last for months.

A fibroid can be a small mass or a huge mass, sometimes filling the abdominal cavity. If it a huge fibroid, you may experience other symptoms like difficulty to move bowel or passing urine.

But most commonly is the change to the flow of your period. Most women with fibroids complain of a heavy period. Menstraul period may take even more than seven days sometimes lasting up to 2 weeks.

If you experienced any of the above symptoms, talk to your doctor.

3.  Vaginal infections

Another common reason you could be dealing with spotting but no period are vaginal infections and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Vaginal infections could have mild symptoms like excessive clumpy white discharge and itching. In some cases, you may experience vaginal spotting too

Common vaginal infections that are sexually transmitted are chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and Gonorrhea. When you get these infections and don’t quickly take action to treat them, they may travel through your vagina to the uterus and fallopian tubes causing pelvic inflammatory diseases

Symptoms of vaginal infections are

  • Pain during intercourse
  • Back and lower abdominal pain
  • Painful urination
  • Yellow, green smelling discharge
  • infertility
  • Excessive smelly discharge

What can you do for vaginal infections?

Thank God. Most vaginal infections are easy to treat and cure. So, its essential you see your doctor and tell him of your challenges.

At first, you will be asked some questions, and investigations will be carried out. Some of these tests may get you uncomfortable – Like inserting a swab into your vagina to get a specimen for the test. Other urine and blood tests will be carried out.

If your doctor finds an infection, he places you on some antibiotics for one or two weeks.

During treatment, you will be adviced to stay away from intercourse. And too, get your partner tested and treated. This is necessary to prevent reinfection that can happen if you have intercourse with him again.

4. Both extremes of Age

Another reason you could get spotting instead of your period is your age. Yes, if you are between 40 and 51, it is possible you could experience some form of spotting instead of your period.

That is, when you get your period, it may be so light than what you usually experienced over the years. It could only last for a day or two and may be so light.

This happens because of Perimenopause, a condition that naturally takes in course in all women. As you grow older, the numbers of follicles dry up, resulting in months where you do not ovulate.

This means you could have light or heavy periods, hot flashes, decreased sexual appetite, and short periods.

Whatever the case, it is not abnormal to feel this way at this age range. If you subsequently miss your period for 12 consecutive months, then you entered a new stage of your life called menopause.

Alternatively, young ladies who just started having menstruation may have to deal with an irregular period. Sometimes it comes early, and other times it comes late.

You may also experience a light period or spotting some months, and during other months you may get a heavy flow during your period.

In such cases, there isn’t much to worry about. Your hormones are still fluctuating, and it may take a few years for your hormones to settle down. There is no reason to panic.

5.  Cancer

Finally, another severe cause of spotting but no period is cancer. Yes, it is not a common cause of spotting but if you’re already in menopause and experience vaginal bleeding or spotting, it is important you see your doctor right away.

It could be endometrial hyperplasia or carcinoma or cervical cancers. symptoms include

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vaginal, vulva pain
  • Smelly, reddish discharge
  • Weight loss
  • Increased frequency of urination

Talk to a doctor ASAP

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