An OB/GYN discusses whether spotting a week before menstruation is abnormal or not.

This isn’t about spotting “between” periods, but rather, one week before the start of menstruation.

And there are different ways to “spot” one week before menstruation.

The spotting can occur one week before the period, but then not occur again till seven days later when a woman begins flowing.

Or, it can happen seven days prior, then skip a day, then occur again, then skip a day, or any combination of recurrences and skips.

It can also escalate, merging right into actual flowing.

But no matter how you slice it, Dr. Marlan Schwartz, MD, says, “This is abnormal. There are many reasons for this – both hormonal and structural (such as polyps, fibroids).”

If this happens rarely or not often, a woman can likely just be observant of the situation. This includes keeping documentation.

“If it is persistent, recurrent or bothersome, it should be evaluated and the cause should be diagnosed and addressed,” says Dr. Schwartz, FACOG, robotic surgeon with Lifeline Medical Associates.

Are you thinking that spotting a week or so before menstruation is common in the population?

“Just because something is common does not make it right,” says Dr. Schwartz.

“The cycle is a tightly controlled hormonal process, affected by other hormones (thyroid, for instance), physical stress, mental stress, physical activity, etc.,” continues Dr. Schwarz.

“When these things have a demonstrable effect on the hormonal cycle, one may experience irregular, frequent, absent, heavy, or any other effect on the cycle. These changes are, technically, abnormal.

“I will maintain that having a five day cycle surrounded by two or three days [of spotting] on either end, resulting in 10 or 12 bleeding days, is not normal.”

If you’ve been spotting a week prior to your period and/or continuing to spot brown discharge for several days after the fifth day — then discuss this with your gynecologist just to make sure that everything is okay.

And it definitely CAN be for many women, but it’s best to have your doctor confirm that after an exam.

dr. schwartzDr. Schwartz is the past Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital-Somerset.