A missed or late period is usually considered as the first sign of pregnancy by most women of childbearing age, and those who are trying to conceive. For women who are not trying to conceive, or are not ready to take on the responsibilities of motherhood, it can be a sign of worry or panic. However, missing a period doesn't always mean that a woman is pregnant, there are various other factors that can lead to a late or missed period.
Basically, menstrual bleeding occurs when the uterus sheds the lining that it builds every month. For a woman to get pregnant, the egg that is released during the menstrual cycle must be fertilized with the sperm. If the egg is not fertilized, then the egg and uterine lining shed, which causes the monthly period. If the egg gets fertilized by a sperm, it implants itself into the uterine wall. Thereafter, the uterus does not shed the lining till the delivery. There are times when women miss their period due to other reasons. Hormonal imbalance could also cause spotting, which is much lighter than the bleeding that occurs during a period. The following sections list out the contributing factors for spotting.
Often mistaken for a period, implantation bleeding occurs when the fertilized egg or embryo implants itself in the uterus. The bleeding is usually lighter than menstrual bleeding, and occurs nearly at the same time or a few days after your expected period would occur. The spotting appears light pink or brown in color, and normally lasts just for a couple of days.
Birth Control Pills
Spotting could occur if a woman begins her first cycle of birth control pills, or if the pills are either missed or taken late. However, the bleeding usually subsides by the end of the third cycle of birth control pills.
Stress is often a contributing factor for menstrual irregularities. If a woman is under stress, the adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol, which in turn directly affects the production and functioning of reproductive hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and DHEA in the body. Stress can cause missed or delayed period, and also cause spotting in some cases.
Uterine abnormalities such as fibroids, cysts, polyps, endometriosis, etc., are conditions that may cause menstrual irregularities or spotting after a late period. Poor diet, strenuous exercise, sudden weight gain, emotional trauma, illness, smoking, prolonged use of certain medications, excessive intake of alcohol or caffeinated drinks, etc., are other contributing factors.
Spotting after a late period could sometimes be due to pregnancy. So, it is better to clear your doubts by performing a home pregnancy test. Since other medical conditions could also be responsible for spotting, it is essential to consult a gynecologist. Also, make some lifestyle-related changes to get rid of stress, and stay healthy.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.