spotting periodMost women experience at least one instance of non-period spotting, and for some, spotting is quite common. But how do women tell the difference between spotting and a proper period?

What Is the Difference Between Spotting and a Period?

Spotting and menstrual periods can be easily confused in certain cases. The main thing that differs spotting and a menstrual period is the quantity of blood loss.

Spotting is characterized by a small amount of blood loss which is irregular, occurring from time to time. You can notice a spotting after sexual intercourse and vigorous physical exercise, or when wiping after using a toilet. A fresh pink to reddish stain and sometimes an old brown blood might be noticed on your underwear.

In general, you will only need a panty liner in order to stay fresh and keep your underwear stains-free. However, if there is more blood than normal, for which a panty liner will not do, and instead you need to use a tampon or a pad to collect it, it’s less likely you are spotting. If you are bleeding so much, it is more likely you are heaving a menstrual period.

Additional Early Signs of Pregnancy

If you still can’t tell whether your spotting looks like implantation or menstruation, you can always take an at-home pregnancy test or schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN. She can tell you whether you should start looking for baby names or stocking up on sanitary napkins. In the meantime, watch for other early pregnancy symptoms, such as sore breasts, headaches, mood swings, sensitivity to smell and elevated basal body temperature.

When to See a Doctor

If you are experiencing light spotting every now and then which is not accompanied by other signs and symptoms, there is no need for concern. However, if spotting tends to become frequent and is accompanied by other signs and symptoms, you should better seek medical help.