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Discovering a little blood on your knickers before your period is due can be confusing.

But take a deep breath. It’s usually no big deal – especially once you learn how to deal with it. Knowing why it happens can minimize the panic of seeing unexpected blood in your undies.

So, here’s the what’s what with bleeding before your period is due, and how to be prepared for it.

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Bleeding vs. spotting what's the difference?

Light bleeding before your expected period is known as spotting. Spotting is pink or brown blood that can show up on the toilet tissue after wiping, or on your knickers. Think of it as enough pink or brown blood to leave a stain on light-coloured underpants, but not enough for a tampon.

It’s important to differentiate between spotting and bleeding. If you are bleeding enough to soak through a pair of knickers and it’s not time for your period, you should consult a doctor.

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Is spotting before my period normal?

Light spotting just before you get your period can be completely normal. You may even notice light bleeding up to a week before your period is due.

What’s most important with spotting is to notice what is normal for you. If you don’t normally bleed before your period is due, but suddenly have started noticing pink or brown spotting before your period, it might be worth bringing up with your doctor.

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Why does spotting happen?

Once a month, your hormones drop, letting your body know that it’s not pregnant and signalling to the lining of your uterus that it’s time to vacate the premises.

Sometimes the uterus lining doesn’t break down uniformly, and some of it starts shedding a little ahead of schedule. This results in pink or brown spotting before your period.

Factors that may increase likelihood of spotting

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You're just starting your period

Many girls tend to spot if they’ve just gotten their period for the first time. If your body is new to menstruation, it may not have quite gotten the hang of it and all its accompanying hormones yet. This means irregular periods and spotting before your period are likely for the first few cycles.

Not to worry. Practice makes perfect, and your body will get the hang of this whole period thing soon enough, eventually settling into a more reliable cycle.

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Some girls and women spot when they ovulate, i.e. when an egg is released from one of your ovaries.

Ovulation happens 14 days before the first day of your next period (so on day 14 if your cycle is 28 days long). The change in hormones that occur during ovulation can cause light bleeding before your expected period.

A hormonal imbalance that affects ovulation can also cause spotting in the middle of your cycle. If you experience that a lot and feel worried about it, consult your doctor.

Other changes to your hormonal balance

Things like stress or new birth control pills can also change your hormonal balance and cause light bleeding before your expected period. While it can be unnerving, it’s nothing to be alarmed about.

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Spotting a week before your period can also be caused by stress as it creates various changes in your body that can influence the way your menstrual cycle works.

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Some medicines can have an impact on your menstrual cycle and can be the reason why you notice spotting a week before your period.

It’s good to talk with your doctor to see if any medicine taken can be replaced by another one to avoid spotting.

What can I do about spotting?

Always Dailies Pantyliners

If you’re just spotting, don’t fret. Just wear a pantyliner like Always Dailies.

They absorb vaginal discharge and spotting and are way thinner and much more flexible than pads, making them great for days when you don’t actually have a period, but you still need some protection.

In fact, they’re so thin and flexible, you’ll barely know they’re there.

Always Dailies also come in a range of shapes that fit all kinds of knickers, so you don’t have to wear your granny pants just because you’re spotting.