What causes bleeding before the period?

It's common to notice a little bleeding before your period, usually the week before your period. There are many causes for this bleeding, and most of the time it's nothing to be alarmed about.

Even though it's a common phenomenon, it's a good idea to find out what's causing the bleeding, before making sure that nothing abnormal is behind it.

Is pre-menstrual bleeding normal?

Many women experience vaginal dischargeof blood before their period, during the luteal phase. This period of the cycle is in fact the most favourable for light blood loss. The main reason? The drop in hormones. So this kind of pre-menstrual bleeding can occur during a healthymenstrual cycle. For some people, this will be systematic, while for others, bleeding will be occasional.

Why does non-period bleeding occur?

There are several possible reasons for the appearance of spotting before the period. The main reason is a drop in hormone levels. But there may be other reasons too.

Low hormone levels during the luteal phase

Bleeding during the luteal phase is most often linked to a drop in hormones. But what is the luteal phase?

The luteal phase corresponds to the start of ovulation, ending with the onset of menstruation (or implantation of an embryo if fertilization has taken place through sexual intercourse). It is during this period that the body prepares for the potential implantation of an embryo, and it is at this time that the uterine mucosa thickens under the action of hormones.

When ovulation occurs, the follicle released by one of the two ovaries is transformed into the corpus luteum, which secretes progesterone. During this period, estrogen falls and progesterone rises.

Progesterone is the hormone responsible for supporting the uterine wall. A few days later, however, the progesterone reserve is depleted. It's at this point that the hormone drops, triggering the onset of menstruation and a new cycle.

For some women, even a slight drop in progesterone results in light bleeding.

Bleeding during the luteal phase can also mean that your progesterone level is too low. If you suspect that your progesterone level is too low, talk to your doctor.

Choosing a new contraceptive method

If you've recently started a new hormonal contraceptive, you may have noticed some pink discharge. This bleeding is due to the hormonal changes your new contraceptive causes. If this bleeding is normal three months after starting a new contraceptive, but persists beyond 3 months, consult your doctor: your contraception may not be suitable for you.

Sexually transmitted infection or uterine disorders

In most cases, pre-menstrual bleeding is not a sign of anything serious, but in some (rarer) cases, it can be a sign of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), uterine disorders or fibroids.

  • Chlamydia can cause bleeding before menstruation. But this is not the only symptom caused by this STI. Symptoms are multiple and include: abnormal vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, fever, but also pain during intercourse or urination. To make sure you don't have any STI problems, get tested. In fact, it's very important to be screened regularly.
  • Women with PCOS may also experience pre-menstrual bleeding due to increased levels of androgens in the body.
  • Finally, fibroids can also cause bleeding before menstruation. What are fibroids? Fibroids are benign tumours that develop in the mucous membrane. Polyps (another name for fibroids) can cause irregular periods and bleeding between periods.

In most cases, pre-menstrual bleeding has no alarming cause, but if it is accompanied by pain or other symptoms, consult your doctor.

How can I prevent blood loss before my period?

To prevent potential pre-menstrual blood loss, you can wear menstrual briefs. Made from organic, breathable cotton, they are non-irritating for your intimate area, making them ideal for preventing bleeding or light discharge.

Pre-menstrual bleeding FAQ

Is it normal to lose blood outside your period?

Hormonal changes are the main cause of blood loss outside the period. In the majority of cases, bleeding is not at all alarming, or even normal.

How can you tell the difference between bleeding and the start of a period?

Pre-menstrual bleeding is light and of a different color. It's usually pinkish, or on the contrary, brownish. What's more, it occurs in the days before your period is due to start.

Is pre-menstrual bleeding synonymous with illness?

Bleeding outside or before your period can be a sign of uterine disorders or sexually transmitted infections, if accompanied by other symptoms and pain. If in doubt, consult your healthcare professional.

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