Ovulation is a body process through which a woman’s ovary releases an egg for fertilization. In most cases, this occurs without any obvious symptoms, and women are often not even aware that it is happening. Sometimes, however, a woman may notice minor bleeding or spotting around ovulation time, which is referred to as ovulation bleeding. Most of the time, pain isn't associated with the bleeding, but some women do note pain in the abdomen during ovulation. Usually, bleeding around ovulation time is harmless and may be caused by an estrogen-level drop, but a woman may be advised to consult with a doctor if she suspects she is having ovulation bleeding for the first time.
Ovulation bleeding usually occurs around the middle of a woman’s cycle. Most women don’t experience it, but those who do often notice it around the 14th, 15th, and 16th day of the menstrual cycle. In many cases, ovulation bleeding isn’t a gush or even a flow of blood. Instead, it may appear as a spot on a woman’s underwear. Many women who bleed during ovulation wear panty liners to protect their clothing, but do not bleed enough to need pads or tampons.
When a woman has bleeding related to ovulation, it may not show up as bright red blood as she would expect to see during a menstrual period. Instead, it may look brownish. Some women have this type of bleeding for a couple of hours of each cycle, and the bleeding often appears as a brownish stain on the underwear. Others may have ovulation bleeding for a day or two, however, and see brownish discharge with occasional spots of red. It is rare for a woman to experience heavy bleeding at this point in her menstrual cycle.
Some women also have pain, which is referred to as mittelschmerz, along with bleeding during ovulation time. The pain is typically felt on either side of the abdomen and may change sides from cycle to cycle in relation to the ovary that expels the egg in a given month. The pain may last for up to 24 hours and is often described as sharp and crampy. Many women report that physical activity, including walking, increases their pain at this time.
Scientists are not 100 percent sure of the cause of bleeding during ovulation. It may occur as the result of a slight drop in estrogen, however. Some scientists think the bleeding may also come from the ovary when a woman’s mature egg breaks through.
Ovulation bleeding is harmless and there is no need for treatment. If a woman is noticing it for the first time, however, she may do well to consult a doctor. This is just a precaution a woman may take since irregular vaginal bleeding can sometimes be a sign of a more serious issue.