The greatest difference between spotting and a regular period is the amount of blood passed, according to MDhealth.com. While a period has a consistent flow of blood for three to five days, spotting is much lighter, more sporadic and has greater irregularity than a regular period. Spotting is completely normal in some women. However, in others it sometimes signifies pregnancy or an underlying condition that requires medical treatment.
According to MDhealth.com, spotting sometimes occurs outside of the regular menstrual cycle and is often just a few drops of blood. Differing in color from dark brown to light red, spotting is typically very minimal and does not necessitate wearing a tampon or sanitary pad, but instead is manageable with a panty liner or other minimal sanity products.
While spotting is generally harmless, it is wise to verify this. A visit to the doctor is important to confirm or rule out underlying conditions that cause spotting, including pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids or cancer, says MDhealth.com. Spotting sometimes has other causes, such as excessive stress and anxiety, ovulation, medicines or an IUD. Keep track of any spotting along with periods and associated symptoms for the doctor's visit to assist in determining the cause of the spotting.