There are instances when spotting or early period symptoms may not be due to an early period. If this happens, sexually active women may have to consider the fact that they might be pregnant. Spotting instead of a period is an almost certain indication of implantation bleeding. Implantation bleeding occurs when a fertilized egg travels into the uterus and burrows into the lining of the uterus. Some women may experience spotting or slight bleeding due to this process. Implantation bleeding, although not the same as a period, is often mistaken for an irregular light period. This is the reason why many women do not realize they are pregnant till eight or nine weeks into the pregnancy.
Implantation bleeding occurs a few days before a period. A woman who keeps track of her menstrual cycle will be able to monitor a pregnancy as implantation bleeding usually occurs approximately a week after ovulation. Spotting that occurs extremely close to the time of a period may not be implantation bleeding. A normal period may begin with slight spotting and may get heavier over the next few days or so. Other pregnancy symptoms may be present if spotting occurs as a result of a pregnancy. For example, women may experience breast tenderness, cramping, fatigue, nausea, bloating, constipation or diarrhea without any period. If this happens, the most accurate method of determining implantation bleeding or early period may be to obtain a pregnancy test.
Period dates may be consistent for many women although for some women, it may not be so. An early period or a late period may be due to factors other than pregnancy. Irregular periods are common in women approaching perimenopause and menopause. There are many other causes of early period or late period which women need to be aware of as well. For example, extreme weight loss and gain can affect menstruation. This is because hormones levels fluctuate during excessive weight gain or loss resulting in hormone level changes. This influences menstruation. Other factors such as strenuous exercise, eating disorders, emotional stress, change of weather and altitude, medications, etc. may cause an early period or delay a period by a few weeks.
Menstruation irregularities may occur due to a condition referred to as polycystic ovarian syndrome. Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome release excess luteinizing hormones that increase oestrogen and progestin production. Women not affected with polycystic ovarian syndrome release the right amount of luteinizing hormones. This aids in the production of oestrogen and progestin needed in order to ovulate. The imbalance in hormone levels causes either longer, heavier menstrual bleeding or shorter cycles resulting in early periods and weight gain. Sexually active women should consider a pregnancy test when concerned about implantation bleeding or early period as pregnancy with polycystic ovarian syndrome can be complicated.
Women experiencing spotting or bleeding without a period should take medical advice. It could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance or an underlying condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or ovarian cysts. A doctor may prescribe treatment depending on the condition and its severity. However, women experiencing implantation bleeding or early period symptoms with a pregnancy should monitor the bleeding before consulting a doctor. If the situation is persistent over a number of menstrual cycles, seeking medical attention without delay is highly recommended.
Implantation bleeding similar to that of an early period should be closely monitored. Some women may go through implantation bleeding for the entire first trimester of their pregnancy. Slight spotting may not be a cause for concern. However, spotting that soaks through a sanitary napkin in a matter of hours requires immediate medical attention as this can be a sign of miscarriage.