What would life even be if your period didn't throw you a curveball every once in a while? Sometimes it's early, sometimes it's late. And, when things get really weird, there's a little trickle of blood a week or two before the real deal shows up. So what the heck is going on when you're spotting? And what's the appropriate level of freaking out for this situation?
Spotting in between periods is incredibly common, says Timothy Ryntz, MD, a gynecologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. And, although it's not necessarily normal, that bleeding isn't usually anything to be too worried about.
"The concern is when it happens with consistency," Dr. Ryntz says, meaning more than three cycles in a row. If your spotting is thanks to a one-off hormonal fluctuation, it'll generally sort itself out within three cycles. But, if that doesn't happen, that's a sign that you may be dealing with a more serious cause, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
The other factor to be aware of is the color of your bleeding. Although it might be a little alarming to find dark or brownish-colored blood in your undies, Dr. Ryntz says it's actually more concerning to find bright red blood: "That represents something that’s actively happening," he says, which might be as simple as a small vaginal scrape after rough sex or as serious as cervical cancer. Again, the key is consistency. If it happens once, Dr. Ryntz says it's not a huge deal, but it's worth getting checked out if it happens every time you have sex, for instance.
So, how do you make your spotting stop? "There’s not a lot you can do outside of keeping your general health maintained and taking care of any existing medical conditions," says Dr. Ryntz. That means that your first step in trying to get rid of spotting is figuring out what's causing it. For a definitive answer, you should check in with your gyno. But, to get an idea of what you're in for, continue on.