Facts About Ovulation Bleeding

Ovulation bleeding or ovulation spotting is a common monthly occurrence for many women.

There are some who have never experienced it, or only experienced it after changing birth control, but you should know that it is normal, regardless if you have the spotting or not.

Some who experience ovulation bleeding monthly use it as a reasonably reliable way to determine ovulation so they can use this sign to either avoid getting pregnant or to conceive instead.

What Causes Ovulation Bleeding

ovulation bleeding

Photo: Pixabay

First, let’s discuss what ovulation is in general. This is when the ovary releases an egg to make it’s way down the fallopian tube and towards the uterus [1].

If the egg is fertilized, you will get pregnant, if not, then you will get your period roughly two weeks later (that’s why women talk about the “TWW” or two-week wait while trying to conceive because that’s the timeframe we have to wait before determining if implantation was successful).

During ovulatory phase of menstrual cycle, the surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) causes release of egg. The cervical mucus changes from watery to egg-white in consistency indicating the release of egg from ovary. [2].

For some, the release of the egg may cause some pain and cramps and also bleeding.

The cause of the bleeding/spotting is generally related to the sharp drop in estrogen aver ovulation before the levels of progesterone have risen [3].

But this isn’t something that has been studied regularly and researchers are still figuring out the cause of spotting.

According to one study, only 3 percent of women actually experience ovulation bleeding [4].

What Does Ovulation Bleeding Look Like

There are plenty of differences between ovulation bleeding and menstrual bleeding.

Generally, when it comes to ovulation bleeding it’s far lighter than a period and is generally light pink or brownish red [5].

For some, they also experience mild cramping as well (not unlike a period but a lot lighter and shorter in duration).

It may be mixed with cervical mucus and may be accompanied by mild pain in the stomach or some cramping that resembles menstrual cramping. Not all bleeding can be regarded as ovulation spotting.

If you notice heavy bleeding that lasts for days and looks like you are menstruating, consult a doctor immediately.

How Long Does Ovulation Bleeding Last?

Ovulation bleeding doesn’t usually last long. The average time frame is one to three days [6].

So if you have experienced spotting for a longer period of time, this is something you’ll want to be seen by a doctor because it can be a sign of something more serious or an underlying problem.

When it comes to the timeframe as to when you might see ovulation bleeding, it would happen around 14 days prior to your next period (or anywhere from 11-21 days from the first day of your last period [7]).

If it were implantation bleeding it would only happen about a day or two prior to your period [8] (which is why it’s sometimes confused for a period instead).

Ovulation Bleeding As a Birth Control Method

Those who experience ovulation bleeding in the middle of each cycle, can use this to help them either prevent or get pregnant.

Ovulation bleeding indicates that the egg has been released and is available for fertilization by sperm. So, if you are trying to get pregnant, it’s the perfect time to try.

In that same sense, if you are trying to avoid the pregnancy, you can use the same method.

But again, this is not a 100% sure way to avoid pregnancy and additional methods should be used if you are really trying to avoid starting or growing your family.

In addition to monitoring ovulation with spotting, there are a lot of people who use this in conjunction with measuring their basal body temperature in order to determine exactly when they are ovulating.

This is considered natural family planning and when done right can be extremely reliable; however, the failure rate of this method is high.

Other Signs of Ovulation

While ovulation bleeding is an amazing tool to either prevent or attempt to get pregnant there are also a few other ways to help determine that you are ovulating.

Other signs that indicate ovulation include changes in the cervical fluid, changes in the basal body temperature, increased sex drive, increased breast tenderness, and heightened senses as well [9].

Final Thoughts

Ovulation bleeding can be a way to tell when you are ovulating and when you are most fertile. If you are having regular bleeding or unusually painful cramps, that’s something that you want to discuss with your doctor to make sure there are no additional underlying conditions.

Again, it can be completely normal (I am one of the 3 percent that have ovulation bleeding) and your body’s way of telling you the perfect time to have intercourse. It also could be something you want to look into further at least once just to be sure.


  1. Clar McWeeney via Clue. Ovulation bleeding: What it is, and How to Know If You’re Experiencing It. [link]
  2. See above #1
  3. See above #1
  4. Menstrual Bleeding Patterns Among Regularly Menstruating Women [link]
  5. Anisha Nair via Parenting First Cry. Bleeding During Ovulation: Causes and Things to Know. [link]
  6. See above #5
  7. See above #4
  8. See above #5
  9. See above #4
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