Probably most of you who are reading this are women and will know already what menopause spotting is. But if you do not, spotting is when spots of blood appear between periods.
Staining your best underwear or feeling as though you have wet yourself, is not, I repeat NOT a pleasant experience, but it is unfortunately one that we all have to go through. At the time of writing, I am supposed to be booking myself in to have a smear test, but because I have been 'showing' on and off for two weeks, I dare not make an appointment in case I bleed on the day.
Menopause spotting is one of the symptoms of menopause that we can do absolutely nothing to improve, other than wear our oldest underwear and sanitary protection. It's also one of the first symptoms that a woman experiences when she is starting menopause. Erratic and irregular periods can come under the same banner.
If you're at an age when your menopause is likely to begin – around the age of 51 – you may well be expecting your periods to become irregular. But for some women, who start menopause in their thirties and younger, it can come as a shock when they begin to see signs of bleeding between periods and often causes sleepless nights before they ever consult a medical professional.
It's always worth paying your doctor a visit if you're kicking between periods, as there is a test that can determine whether you have started or are about to start menopause. The test is called the FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) test and is relatively simple to carry out, so if you suspect you may be entering menopause, get yourself checked out to confirm your suspensions.
Although I was expecting my periods to become irregular when I reached 50, I was not aware of how much the spotting would vary in color and texture. From bright red to brown and everything in between. But this is perfectly normal and all part of the 'change'.
Likewise, spotting just prior to a period may be normal for some women, while others – like me – will have no warning signs at all and their period will suddenly begin. It could be that you will have periods regularly for a few months and then have no periods for the following few months, before starting normally again a month later.
The reason that we experience menopause spotting and irregular periods is due to pesky little hormones preparing to cease production. And, unfortunately, these hormone levels can fluctuate for the next ten to fifteen years, so it's probably advisable not to buy any new briefs until it's all over!
On a serious note, you know your body better than anyone and if you experience a change in the strength of flow of your period, for example, where some sanitary towels or tampons are soaked through in just a few hours, it would be advisable to visit a doctor and explain your symptoms.
Every woman varies with the timing of her monthly menstrual cycle and whilst some women can pinpoint to the exact day when they will begin bleeding, others may vary from month to month.
Once you have had an entire year with no period and no spotting, you have gone through menopause and you can celebrate by wearing your good underwear again. There should be no signs of any bleeding after this stage and once again, it would be worth checking out if you experience anything to the contrary. Keeping a diary of your last period will keep you informed of what stage you're at.