Hi DIVA. I really need your help please because I’m confused. Does my spotting mean it’s my period or am I pregnant?

Spotting is relatively common: As many as 1 in 4 pregnant women spot in the first trimester. Some pregnant women notice light spotting, called implantation bleeding, around the time their period is due, and this is one early sign of pregnancy.

This bleeding may be caused by the fertilized egg burrowing into the blood-rich lining of your uterus (a process that starts just six days after fertilization), but no one knows for sure. Implantation bleeding is a lot lighter than a typical period – just a little spotting over a day or two.

On the other hand, it’s not uncommon to get your period a few days late every once in a while. The best way to find out if you’re pregnant is to take a home pregnancy test.

Pregnancy tests check for the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that your body starts producing after an egg is fertilized. Home pregnancy tests can detect a very small amount of hCG, so if you’re pregnant you should be able to get a positive result by the time your period is a few days late.

For the most accurate home pregnancy test results, follow the test directions carefully. Also, take the test first thing in the morning because that’s when urine is more concentrated and contains the most hCG. If you get a negative result but your period doesn’t arrive within a week, repeat the test or visit your doctor to have a blood test.

In the meantime, if you continue spotting or develop other symptoms, such as pelvic or abdominal pain, dizziness, or lightheadedness, call your practitioner immediately. You may need an exam to make sure you don’t have an ectopic pregnancy. This happens when the fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. (You can have an ectopic pregnancy even if you don’t get a positive result on a pregnancy test.)