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Brown Discharge Before Period & How to Stop It - Gynecologist Backed

If you have been getting brown discharge before period, do not fret. Read this article to understand the causes behind brown spotting before the period.

8 min read
Brown Discharge Before Period & How to Stop It - Gynecologist Backed

Getting brown discharge before the period can be normal. In some cases, it may imply a pregnancy or perimenopause. Rarely, it could mean there is an underlying health condition. If you experience brown spotting before period, it could just be a vaginal discharge that has blood. It is only a matter of concern when you get brown discharge when your period isn’t due. Mostly, brown discharge before the period is not a cause for concern.

What Is Brown Discharge?

Vaginal discharge happens almost every day. Usually, it is thin and clear or white. It may be in other colours too. But if it is brown, it means there are small amounts of old blood. This blood might have taken a long time to come out of the uterus. There could be a strong reason for brown discharge before period, such as:

Brown Discharge Without Pregnancy

If there is cause for concern, get it checked by a doctor. If there is no pregnancy, you could have a brown discharge because of:

  • old blood coming out of the uterus a couple of days after your period ended
  • a very light beginning for your period
  • ovulation spotting
  • a reaction to a vaginal exam or Pap smear test
  • a reaction to having vigorous sex

Brown Discharge During Pregnancy

Do you have a reason to think - brown discharge before period could I be pregnant? In some cases, pink or brown discharge or spotting before your period could indicate pregnancy. Such early signs of pregnancy are not experienced by all those who are pregnant.

Some women experience an implantation bleed that happens when the fertilised egg plants itself into the uterus lining. This generally happens 1 to 2 weeks after the egg has been fertilised. If you have experienced implantation bleeding post unprotected sex, you should take a pregnancy test. Speak to your doctor. However, brown discharge is rarely a matter of concern, even during pregnancy. In very rare cases, it may imply an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

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Brown Discharge When Approaching Menopause

If you are in your 40s or 50s, brown discharge before the period could be a sign of perimenopause. This refers to the transition period before menopause when your periods stop. You might also experience:

  • mood swings
  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • sleeping issues
  • vaginal dryness

What Is Normal Discharge?

You might be wondering, is it normal to have brown discharge before your period? It is normal to experience discharge once you hit puberty. Discharge is important as it keeps your genitals clean and healthy by disposing of the dead skin cells present in the lining of the vagina. It comprises mostly water but contains microorganisms. The nature of your discharge changes during the menstrual cycle. It depends on ovulation, sexual activity, use of birth control, and menstrual flow.

Discharge typically begins when you are 14 years of age. It averages about 1 teaspoon a day. It is generally clear or white in colour. It can be thick or thin, depending on where you are in the menstrual cycle. It should not have any strong odour. Bear in mind it is normal for the vagina to have some odour.

Reason for Brown Discharge Before Period

Is brown discharge sign of period? There could be various reasons for brown discharge or spotting.

1. Birth Control

When you begin new hormonal contraceptives or birth control, you might experience irregular bleeding for the first few months. The following contraceptives might cause brown discharge:

  • A combination contraceptive pill
  • Contraceptive patch
  • Progestogen-only contraceptive pill
  • Contraceptive injection
  • Contraceptive implants
  • Vaginal ring (NuvaRing)

Many people experience bleeding between periods while on hormonal birth control. It is scary, but in most cases, it is harmless and will subside within three months. Ensure to take your medicine at the same time every day. Other side effects may include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Changes in sexual desire

2. Implantation

Implantation bleeding is generally a small amount of light spotting or bleeding that happens 10-14 days after conception. This is normal. Compared to a regular period, implantation bleeding is light and lasts only a couple of days.

3. Uterine Fibroids

Some women experience uterine fibroids or non-malignant (non-cancerous) growths of muscle and tissue on the uterus. Some women may not realise they have it because there are no symptoms. It is usually discovered by a doctor performing a pelvic examination. Rarely, fibroids may grow out from the uterus, twist, and cut off the blood supply. This might result in pain and brown discharge.

4. Vaginal Infections

Sometimes, a vaginal infection may cause brown spotting before period. These infections include:

5. Menstruation

Sometimes you might experience brown discharge before your period. This blood might be leftover from your previous period. When blood stays in your uterus for a while, it turns a brownish colour. It should typically come out at the tail end of your period. But sometimes, it may come out just before your next period. As your flow lightens, it is normal for you to get some brown blood.

Potentially Serious Causes of Brown Discharge

1. Perimenopause

Brown discharge could potentially indicate perimenopause. This is the transition period approaching menopause when you stop getting periods. At this time, your menstrual cycle will start becoming irregular, which may appear as spots.

You may also experience other symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, moodiness, irritability, decreased sex drive, night sweats, and trouble sleeping. These symptoms start coming up in your 40s. If perimenopause begins when you are younger, it may cause fertility issues. This is referred to as primary ovarian insufficiency.

2. Something Stuck in Your Vagina

If you are experiencing a brown discharge that smells off, it might be because something got stuck in your vagina accidentally. This may include condoms, tampons, a cervical cap, sponge, or diaphragm. Contact a doctor if you continue to experience these symptoms after removing whatever is stuck (or if you can’t remove whatever is stuck). You might have developed a vaginal infection.

3. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

There are rare cases where brown discharge may be due to a cervical infection such as pelvic inflammatory disease. Notice if an unusual smell accompanies the brown discharge. You might have other symptoms such as abdominal pain, a burning sensation during urination, pain during sex, and fever. Visit a doctor and get your PID treated with antibiotics.

4. Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

Some STIs may cause vaginal discharge and spotting. This will be accompanied by pelvic pressure, painful urination, and pain during sex. Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics for this.

5. Ovarian Cyst

An ovarian cyst entails a fluid-filled sac that develops on or inside an ovary. They usually come and go. However, if one continues to grow, it may result in brown discharge. Call your doctor if you have other symptoms such as pain during urination or sex, pelvic pressure, or abdominal pain.

6. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition wherein the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside it. This can cause heavy and painful periods and even brownish spotting between periods. You may also experience painful bowel movements and urination, difficulty conceiving, and pain during sex.

7. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS or PCOD refers to a hormonal imbalance wherein ovulation becomes rare or irregular. This makes it harder for women to conceive. You will experience light bleeding or brown discharge. You may have heavy, light, or no periods, excessive hair growth, dark patches of skin, oily skin, and weight gain.

8. Cervical Cancer

This is rare but very serious. Brown discharge can sometimes imply cervical cancer. Some symptoms of cervical cancer include increased vaginal discharge, spotting between periods or after sex, and heavier or longer periods.

What Does Brown Discharge Mean?

In most cases, brown discharge is simply discharge tinged with old blood. It looks brown, but it is quite normal. It might have taken more time for the blood to come out of your uterus, which is why it became brown in colour.

How to Stop Brown Discharge Before Period

You might wonder how to stop brown discharge before period. Generally, the brown discharge doesn’t require any treatment. If there is abnormal bleeding, your doctor may treat it by:

  • Placing an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Putting you on birth control pills
  • Performing a dilation and curettage (D&C)
  • Performing a hysterectomy
  • Performing an endometrial ablation

Is Brown Discharge a Period?

It is quite common to experience brown discharge before period, especially if your flow is light and there isn’t much blood coming out. Most people experience a brown discharge a couple of days before their period.

Sometimes, you might also experience brown discharge after your period. This is nothing to worry about, as your uterus is simply cleaning itself out when your flow lightens. This discharge generally lasts for a couple of days after your period ends. It is rare, but sometimes people may experience a brown discharge while they are ovulating. When the mature egg comes out of the ovary, it may cause minimal bleeding with slight abdominal pain.

People who consume oral contraceptives sometimes experience brown discharge in place of a period. This happens in the week of placebo pills. This is not an actual period but a withdrawal bleed caused by fluctuation in the hormones. Some birth control pills may not cause withdrawal bleeding for a long time. Those on birth control may also experience breakthrough bleeding, which can cause light brown discharge. Birth control hormones make your uterine lining irregular, causing brown discharge between periods. Breakthrough bleedings resolve on their own in a few months.

If you are taking your birth control properly and don’t experience any other symptoms, there is nothing to worry about. These different types of discharges are not your period, but they are normal.

What Should You Do if You Notice Brown Discharge?

Start by noticing if you have any other symptoms. Also, note the timing of your discharge. If the brown discharge occurs before or after your period, it might just be a part of your menstruation. However, if it persists, it may be time to visit your doctor.

Observe what the discharge looks like. Notice whether it is thick or thin, whether it has a smell, if it’s itchy, etc. These might be symptoms of an infection. If you have a fever or pain, you must get checked by a doctor. If you suddenly have a lot of brown discharge and if you have never had it before, it may be abnormal.

Always track your cycle. This will help you to identify whether your discharge is normal. It could be a part of your ovulation, which is also normal.

When to See a Doctor?

Usually, brown discharge is nothing to be alarmed about. However, if you experience the following, please visit a doctor:

  • continues for several weeks
  • smells bad
  • frequently happens after sex
  • is accompanied by pain or cramping
  • is accompanied by vaginal itching

In rare cases, brown discharge may imply a more serious condition. If any of the above-mentioned symptoms accompany the brown discharge, you must see your doctor.

Summing Up on Brown Discharge Before Period

Our periods are always changing. They are also affected by various conditions such as our diet, sleep, stress levels, etc. Sometimes, we might experience something different or new during our period. In most cases, there is nothing to worry about. As we grow older, the nature of our period often changes. Experiencing brown discharge before the period is usually normal.


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