Is spotting “normal?”
Spotting is very unnerving. And inconvenient. Sometimes for me it happens months at a time – it’s like having a really light period for 90 days. I kept going to the doctor and she’d just keep telling me to relax. My Pap, ultrasound and blood work results came back “normal.” “It just happens to some women,” she told me. I don’t know about you, but spotting didn’t feel very “normal” to me.
Dr. Dustin Costescu, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Hamilton Health Sciences and assistant professor in family planning at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., tells me that many things can cause spotting. We were originally talking about how to use an IUS (the hormone version of an IUD), when he mentioned that this form of birth control might cause spotting in place of a regular a period. I quickly high-jacked the phone call and followed up about other reasons spotting might happen.
He tells me that spotting is defined, in medical terms, “as bleeding that does not require sanitary protection.” But he adds: “Now, in practical terms, spotting can take on a few forms. The first and obvious one is spots of blood with wiping or noticed on sanitary protection or underwear. Sometimes spotting results in brown discharge (think old blood plus normal mucus production), which can be confused for infection, but is usually not associated with any odour or other symptoms.”
Yup. I recognize those things, especially after running or stress.
Again, like my doctor, Costescu, says: “There are lots of causes of spotting, and most of them are a normal part of life.”
So, let’s find out what’s so “normal” about it by investigating the reasons we spot.