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3 Types of Bleeding That Aren't Menstruation

Not all bleeding during the menstrual cycle is menstruation . If you're like  keep reading to find out how you can tell what's what!

There are 3 main types of bleeding that are not menstruation. The first is:

 Ovulatory Spotting

This bleeding occurs mid-cycle usually as a pattern each cycle right around ovulation. This bleeding is caused by a small withdrawal of estrogen after the pre-ovulatory surge of estrogen. This is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about.

You'll know it's ovulatory spotting if you are able to confirm ovulation near the bleeding episode (using BBT, cervical mucus, etc depending on the fertility awareness method).

On a fertility awareness chart, ovulatory spotting will look something like this:

Notice that the bleeding precedes a thermal shift and the confirmation of ovulation!

The second type of non-menstrual bleeding is:

 Breakthrough Bleeding

This bleeding occurs when rising estrogen levels during the follicular phase do not result in ovulation or results in a sub-optimal ovulation. The absence of ovulation results in little to no progesterone production. 

Without progesterone to offset estrogen production and hold the uterine lining in tact, the endometrial lining sheds at irregular intervals.

On a fertility awareness chart, breakthrough bleeding will look like this:

Notice that the bleeding occurs without any confirmation of ovulation. Anovulation can occur every odd cycle if we are undergoing more internal or external stress, eating or sleeping poorly, etc. 

However, if anovulatory bleeding is a pattern (aka cycles that last longer than 35 days without the confirmation of ovulation ), this is a sign that one or more health-supporting systems of your body (gut health, blood sugar balance, liver health, nutrient sufficiency, etc) are experiencing dysfunction.

In 1:1 coaching with me, we dive deep into both your internal systems and external world to find the root cause of your period issues and support them with bio-individualistic nutrition and lifestyle optimizations. Book a discovery call to explore!

The third type of non-menstrual bleeding is:

 Withdrawal Bleeding

This bleeding occurs from a drop in synthetic hormones as a result of pausing or stopping hormonal birth control. 

The white pill days in a birth control pill pack? These are placebo pills (essentially sugar). Without estrogen or progesterone to hold your uterine lining in tact, mild shedding occurs. This induced withdrawal bleeding have no medical purpose

Withdrawal bleeding is not true menstruation since (several types of) hormonal birth control suppress ovulation. The synthetic hormones in hormonal birth control are not identical to the natural hormones our body produces. If they were, birth control wouldn't be preventing pregnancy.

I'm not giving an example of withdrawal bleeding on a fertility awareness chart here because on hormonal birth control, ovarian function is largely suppressed - meaning there will be no cyclical changes in cervical mucus, basal body temperature etc. 

So what are the characteristics of true menstruation?

 True Menstruation 

True menstruation is bleeding that is the result of ovulation. If you've confirmed ovulation, any bleeding thereafter is true menstruation.

Take this fertility awareness chart for example:

Notice that the sustained thermal shift starting on Day 16 in combination with cervical mucus and vaginal sensation signs demonstrate the confirmation of ovulation. 

If you'd like to learn how to start using the fertility awareness method to learn more about your reproductive & overall health or for natural birth control, check out my course - Cycle Power.

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