Spotting During Ovulation: Why You Have it, and Is it Normal?

Ovulation starts when an ovary releases an egg. The egg then travels down the fallopian tube and into the uterus. If the egg is not fertilized within 24 hours, it will break down and be shed two weeks later when your period occurs.

For women, any spotting or bleeding that happens outside of their period can be disturbing.

Truth be told, there are many reasons why women may bleed or notice spotting during ovulation.

In fact, one of the main causes for bleeding outside of the period cycle is ovulation. In most cases, ovulation bleeding happens two weeks after your last period.

How to calculate ovulation

Ovulation calendar

Timing of the ovulation process can be complex. It takes some time to study your body and cycle in order to figure it out.

You can use a combination of methods, including observing cervical fluid, tracking periods, taking basal body temperature daily, all so that you can better identify the timing of your ovulation.

The American Pregnancy Association supports women in raising their fertility awareness method for tracking cycles. They encourage women to combine that with using ovulation predictor kits just so they understand better when they are ovulating.

According to the Association, ovulation occurs anywhere between 11 and 21 days after the first day of your last period, or 12-16 days from when you expect the next menstrual period [1]

How do you know ovulation is happening?

As ovulation is approaching, your body will start producing more cervical fluid. You can easily notice the fluids in your underwear when you use the bathroom.

The fluid will also become clearer, slippery, and more wet. Think of it as a raw egg white. The fluid will peak some one or two days before ovulation, when your estrogen levels are at the highest point.

You can also expect surge in luteinizing hormone which triggers the egg to be released from the follicle some 40 hours later.

Some women have reported ovulation pain, which is sharp or cramp-like pain felt in either side of the lower abdomen. The pain can last for few hours.

You can also start tracking your basal body temperature, which will allow you to detect ovulation [2]

As progesterone levels in your body rise, they will prepare the uterus for the implantation of a fertilized egg. At this point, you will notice increase in your basal body temperature, and use it as an ovulation predictor.

One of the biggest myths is that women start ovulating on the 14th day after their period starts. The myth has gained traction from people taking the average of when all women ovulate or from just dividing the 28-day cycle in half.

It is definitely not an accurate way to calculate ovulation because many women do not ovulate on the 14th day of their cycle. The day of ovulation is different from one woman to another, and it can even be different from one month to another.

What are the signs of ovulation?

Ovulation signs

We talked about how to calculate your ovulation, and what are some of the signs to watch for. But let’s make a quick list of all the signs of ovulation.

Many women notice only one or two of the following symptoms:

  • Change in cervical fluid
  • Light spotting
  • Increase in sex drive
  • Change in cervical position
  • Change in cervical firmness
  • Brief twinge of pain od dull ache felt on either side of the lower abdomen
  • Elevated level of luteinizing hormone which can easily be detected on an ovulation test
  • Breast tenderness
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Basal body temperature chart shows consistent change
  • Heightened sense of smell, taste, and vision

What causes ovulation spotting and ovulation bleeding?

Ovulation Bleeding

There is still no clear reason why women bleed at ovulation. According to scientists, there are a couple of theories, and one of the main ones is emergence of follicles on the ovary.

Our hormones produce about 20 follicles that contain immature eggs. Only one of them will mature and rupture at ovulation, and when the follicle bursts, it may cause pain and some women experience small amount of spotting.

Another theory is that women experience bleeding due to changing levels of estrogen just before ovulation. The amounts of estrogen spike, and this increase may cause light bleeding in some women.

Statistics show that 3% of women notice spotting during ovulation [3]

What does ovulation bleeding looks like?

We will get to different types of bleeding later, but for now, let’s talk about what does ovulation bleeding looks like?

For starters, it is vastly different from the bleeding you experience when your period arrives. Ovulation spotting or bleeding is has a very light flow, it is not heavy menstrual flow.

It is also lighter than the dark menstrual flow. The coloration is usually light pink or even light orange. The spotting lasts for only a day or two.

Difference between ovulation spotting and implantation spotting

Ovulation spotting happens around the time your body releases an egg. Implantation spotting, on the other hand, happens when a fertilized egg attaches to the inner lining of the uterus.

Implantation spotting is an early sign of pregnancy, and one on three pregnant women experience it. The difference is in timing.

Ovulation spotting occurs mid-cycle, while implantation occurs few days before the period should start.

Some women mistake implantation spotting for period bleeding. This is because they happen almost at the same time.

Here are some differences between implantation spotting and bleeding:

  • Implantation spotting has a pink to dark brown color, while menstrual bleeding is bright to dark red in color
  • Implantation bleeding is lighter in flow compared to period bleeding
  • Bleeding during period lasts up to seven days, while implantation bleeding lasts for half a day or few days max

If you are pregnant, you will also experience symptoms like nausea, headaches, mood swings, light cramping, breast tenderness, fatigue, and low backache in addition to light spotting.

Ovulation spotting vs period bleeding

Spotting is in many ways different than period bleeding. Even so, some women still mistake one for the other.

For example, here are some key points to watch for that will help you classify blood as spotting:

  • Typically spotting is lighter in flow
  • Spotting has pink, reddish, or brown color, while bleeding is always light to dark red
  • Spotting lasts only for a day or two

Bleeding due to menstrual cycle is heavy enough to require pad, tampon, or menstrual cup. Spotting, on the other hand, does not require any of this in most cases.

Average period lasts 5 days, and produces loss of about 30 to 80ml of blood.

Should you worry?

If your intention is to get pregnant, ovulation spotting is a good sign. That means that having sex at the moment is great.

While some women can get pregnant outside their ovulation period, most women get pregnant during ovulation. Having sex in the period when you notice ovulation spotting is great.

This makes for great planning, as you can plan your baby making sex accordingly. It is also worth noting that not every woman experiences spotting during ovulation.

Therefore, it is not as reliable indicator as it seems. However, you can use the ovulation predictor test to recognize when ovulation is near.

Using these tests, you can get a “warning” some 24 to 36 hours before you ovulate. It is also worth noting that sperm can survive up to 5 days, so that doesn’t mean you have to have sex the day you ovulate.

However, the closer to ovulation you have sex, the higher the chances of getting pregnant are.

With that in mind, there are some situations when bleeding around ovulation can be a concern. Yes, bleeding is perfectly and completely normal during ovulation.

But in some cases, it is an indicator of underlying health problem and that something else is going on.

Here are symptoms to pay attention to:

  • If you have more than one bleeding episode in a cycle, this can be classified as you not ovulating at all
  • Bleeding that is heavier than usually can be a sign or symptom for a health problem like endometriosis
  • Experiencing pain that does not go away, or bleeding is long and severe, you need to check with a health expert. In this case, the bleeding might be caused by something else than ovulation
  • Mid-cycle bleeding, or commonly known as ovulation bleeding, can also be caused by irritable cervix, polyps in the uterus, cervical polyps, or endometriosis. A physician can perform tests that will find the true cause of the spotting.

Should you take a pregnancy test?

If you are suspecting you are pregnant, do not take a pregnancy test right away. Wait until the first day after your missed period.

If you’ve experienced ovulation spotting, this is usually 15 to 16 days after the bleeding occurred.

If you take a test too early, you might end up with a false-negative test. You need to understand that pregnancy tests measure the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin in your urine.

This hormone rises rapidly when you are pregnant. However, in the early days of pregnancy, the levels are too low to detect in the urine.

If the test comes back positive, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist/OB to confirm the results.

If your test comes back negative, and your period still hasn’t started, take another test one week later.

If your test comes back negative again, schedule an appointment with your physician.


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