Ovulation Spotting

Ovulation Spotting

Ovulation spotting is the presence of a pink discharge or frank bleeding that occurs during ovulation.  Some women are lucky and have regular cycles that are exactly 28 days in length with ovulation occurring on the 14th day of the cycle.  If you aren’t that lucky and have long cycles or irregular cycles, you may not know that you are ovulating and need to rely on ovulation test kits or the presence of ovulation spotting to know that they have ovulated.

Some good ways of tracking your ovulatory status are to look for changes in cervical mucus changes (the mucus will become clear and stringy upon ovulation), basal body temperature measurement (the basal body temperature increases upon ovulation), ovulation test kits, and having the presence of ovulation spotting at the time the egg is released from the follicle.

If you regularly get ovulation spotting, this can be one of the best ways to know when you are most fertile.  Ovulation spotting can look like a pinkish discharge when wiping or can be enough bleeding that you need to wear a mini pad. Either way, you have a sure fire way of determining that you have ovulated and can time having sex around this spotting.

What is ovulation?

Ovulation SpottingOvulation is the time in a woman’s menstrual cycle when the egg is released from the ovarian follicle. Usually just one egg is released per cycle; however, some women will release more than one egg and will have an increased risk of having fraternal twins.

The egg, once it has been released, enters the fallopian tube and begins to travel toward the uterus.  The sperm travel the opposite direction, from the vagina, through the uterus and finally to the fallopian tube, where fertilization usually occurs.

The normal time of ovulation is between the eleventh and the 21st day of the menstrual cycle.  Ovulation happens with most menstrual cycles; however, some women will have at least a few anovulatory cycles (absence of ovulation) per year in which the uterus goes through its normal phase in the first half of the cycle but doesn’t go through the follicular stage because no egg has been released.

These types of cycles don’t involve the release of the egg,tend to be shorter in duration when compared to ovulatory cycles and are accompanied by heavier bleeding when compared to ovulatory cycles. If all of your cycles are like this, you are probably not ovulating at all and need to see the doctor about stimulating your ovaries so you can get pregnant.

Besides ovulation spotting, some women experience “Mittelschmerz pain” when they ovulate.  This involves pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis, or back that is from pressure on the pelvic structures from the follicle, which ultimately ruptures, leading to pain and spotting at the time of ovulation.

If you experience ovulation spotting, the cervical mucus may be brown in color, pinkish, or red in color.  If you have a lot of bleeding around the time you expect to ovulate, it might not be ovulation spotting and you should be checked out by your doctor or midwife to see exactly why you are having the bleeding.  The bleeding may be due to implantation of the embryo into the uterus and may mean you are already pregnant.

What causes ovulation spotting?

No one knows why some women regularly have ovulation spotting while others have no spotting at all and have no symptoms whatsoever of ovulation.  Those who do have ovulation spotting are likely experiencing the spotting because the follicle (the cyst that contains the egg) has had a weakening of the wall of the follicle that bleeds at the time the follicle ruptures and releases the egg.

The blood travels by gravity down the fallopian tube along with the egg and passes through the uterus, the cervix, and finally the vagina, where it shows up as a small amount of blood or pink discharge in the vaginal mucus. It generally doesn’t happen every menstrual cycle but, when it does, it is an excellent sign that you have ovulated and can get pregnant during the current cycle.

Other Signs of Ovulation

As mentioned, not every woman will have ovulation spotting as a sign of ovulation and must resort to other measures to determine that she has ovulated.  Some ways of determining that you have ovulated besides ovulation spotting include the following:

  • Cervical mucus changes

The normal cervical mucus prior to ovulation is white, sticky, and somewhat thick. As ovulation approaches, the cervical mucus changes to become like egg whites.  The mucus is clear and slippery; it will stretch into a thin line of mucus if you take a little bit of the discharge with your forefinger and thumb and stretch it out.  This mucus is thin and allows for the best medium for sperm to travel into the uterus.

  • The presence of pain

Ovulation SpottingSome women are lucky enough to have “Mittelschmerz pain” with every cycle. The pain is usually on the side of the pelvis that the ovulation has occurred but may be in the middle of the pelvis or in the back so you can’t tell which side is ovulating.

  • Temperature variations

You will have a change in basal body temperature upon ovulation.  If you check your temperature with an extremely accurate basal body temperature thermometer, it will hover around 97 degrees Fahrenheit prior to ovulation, will dip half a degree at the time of ovulation, and will risk to about 98 degrees Fahrenheit after ovulation because the follicle is making progesterone that increases the body temperature during the last half of the cycle.  If using this method for detecting ovulation, you need to check your temperature while still in bed before you get out of bed.  You can do an oral measurement of your temperature or can put the thermometer into the vagina, getting a vaginal basal body temperature instead.


Is it normal to have ovulation spotting?

Having ovulation spotting during your menstrual cycle doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you or that you can’t get pregnant during the cycle.  It just means that the follicle has bled upon breaking open and the blood has traveled by gravity so you see it in your vaginal discharge as brown, pink, or red discharge. It doesn’t affect your fertility in the slightest.

References:

  1. Ovulation spotting. http://www.babyhopes.com/articles/ovulation-spotting.html 
  2. All about ovulation. http://1stovulation.com/spotting-during-ovulation-key-facts-you-need-to-know/
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