So, we’re all familiar with the menstrual cycle - everyone is talking about it, explaining it, and I think we’ve covered this topic pretty well too. One topic that we think needs a bit more attention however, is bleeding during ovulation or spotting during ovulation. We’re going to break it down step by step and explain what ovulation is and why some people experience mid cycle bleeding.
Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from our ovary and moves through the fallopian tube. Our mature egg will only survive for 12-24 hours in the fallopian tube so during this time two things can happen. Either it will become fertilised by sperm, or it will break down over the coming days along with the uterine lining and voliá, we get our period. You may ask yourself “when am I ovulating?” and “how do I know the difference between spotting and bleeding” so let’s dive straight in.
When am I ovulating?
The menstrual cycle is broken into two stages; the follicular stage which begins on day 1 of our period, and the luteal phase, which begins once we ovulate. So in an ideal world, ovulation should occur in the middle of our cycle. Typically, someone's menstrual cycle is 28 days long, meaning ovulation should occur around day 14. We say ‘should’ because with ovulation you honestly just never know! Plus, ovulation may not occur on the same day every month. If we’re stressed or have a poor diet or over exercise, this can actually delay ovulation.
Some people have a longer follicular phase, others may have a longer luteal phase, everyone is different. The best way to know for sure, is to either track your cycle using your basal body temperature (ovulation may cause a slight increase in basal body temperature. You'll be most fertile during the two to three days before your temperature rises. By tracking your basal body temperature each day, you may be able to predict when you'll ovulate.) or use ovulation sticks.
So now we know what ovulation is and how to work out when you ovulate, we need to understand what is mid cycle bleeding or ovulation bleeding.
Why do some people bleed during ovulation?
Ovulation bleeding happens when there is a quick change in hormones. Leading up to ovulation, estrogen is on the rise however after the egg is released estrogen dip’s and it’s progesterone’s time to rise. This dramatic shift in hormones can cause bleeding during ovulation. As the bleed is much lighter than a period and usually lasts one day, some people refer to it as ovulation spotting instead of ovulation bleeding.
What does spotting look like?
When blood flow is quick the colour is light pink or light red. When the blood is a few days old it’s usually dark red / brown aka the colour we see towards the end of our period.
Any light bleeding outside of your period is considered spotting. The main indication of ovulation bleeding / spotting is the colour; light pinkish discharge when you wipe and the timing of the bleed, usually if you bleed 12-16 days before your period begins, it’s likely to be considered ovulation bleeding.
Ovulation bleeding can happen every month or sporadically. If spotting during ovulation is the only symptom you have, then it’s usually nothing to worry about. However, if bleeding during ovulation is new for you, and there’s no reasonable explanation, then it’s always best to ask your GP.
Spotting during ovulation doesn’t affect your fertility and shouldn’t affect your month. Keep panty liners close to make sure you don’t ruin your good underwear and go forth and conquer. In the long run, it might be worth tracking your cycle so you can predict when you’ll ovulate and keep a record of the months you bleed mid cycle.