Your monthly cycle is near, and you feel tired and low in mood. Each woman knows the pattern of her periods. It will change throughout your life from your first cycle to after your pregnancy and delivery due to use of contraceptives, tubal ligation etc., but you know how your periods are during all these phases. Periods differ in flow, length, consistency in each woman. No two women can have same type of flow. Knowing about the normal periods and abnormal periods, what is the color, consistency, flow in normal periods and abnormal periods, helps you for sure, so that you can visit your doctor early on and get treated if something is not the way it usually is for you.
What Is Brown Blood Menstruation?
Most women do not know what kind of discharges they are having and why, throughout their lives. I still remember the first time I got my period, it was a thick brown kind of spotty discharge and I thought it was a stool! Brown discharge during periods is quite normal. You get somewhat worried as to what is this color and next you see that it has disappeared during your next cycle and you completely forget about it until you see it again. Brown blood in your discharge is completely normal. As blood ages, it oxidizes and turns brown, just as when you cut an apple and keep it for some time and it turns brown as it oxidizes. So, it is nothing but the old blood present in your uterine wall.
Read more on Blood Clots During Period
When Is Brown Discharge Normal?
- Brown spotting or discharge is seen in girls who start their periods for the first time, which indicates that the menstrual cycle has begun.
- It occurs in older women nearing menopause (stopping of periods after middle age), an early sign of menopause when accompanied by other symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings.
- It may occur in women using birth control pills. This happens because body is adapting to the changes that is caused by the pills you are consuming.
- Cervical irritation may also cause brown spotting.
- It may be seen after intercourse.
- After you get a pelvic exam and Pap smear you can see brown discharge caused by irritation of cervix.
- If your periods come late, you may find brown discharge as your body expels the uterine lining left from your previous period.
- Implantation bleeding, where the fertilized egg implants itself to the uterus, may cause brown discharge – this is an early sign of pregnancy.
- You may see brown discharge after the delivery of your baby called as “lochia.”
Normal healthy periods will have bright red flow (most often during the middle days of period). Brown blood also is seen normally, usually during the beginning of your periods and at the end of your periods when old blood flows out and becomes brown in color due to oxidization.
When Is Brown Discharge Abnormal?
Sometimes brown discharge might indicate you may be having some underlying disease. So, what are these conditions when brown discharge indicates you might need to visit your gynecologist for an examination?
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of female reproductive organs that occur when bacteria (mostly sexually transmitted) spreads from your vagina to your reproductive organs, i.e., uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. You may see brown discharge and it is accompanied by other symptoms like severe pelvic and lower abdominal pain, foul vaginal discharge and burning with urination.
- Ovarian Cyst – It is a fluid filled sac that forms in the ovary. It may cause lower back pain, irregular and painful periods along with brown discharge.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – PCOS is a hormonal disorder. The symptoms of PCOS are brown spotting, irregular periods and prolonged periods, facial hair (due to androgen hormone) and weight gain. It may cause infertility also.
- Cervical Cancer – It is very rare and the most serious cause of brown discharge. The other symptoms may be pain during sex and bleeding, bleeding between periods, heavier periods with longer duration.
- Sign Of Miscarriage – Brown discharge when you are pregnant (mostly first trimester) may be a sign of miscarriage.
- Ectopic Pregnancy – It means the embryo attaches itself outside the uterus instead of inside the uterus. Brown discharge may be accompanied by symptoms of fatigue, abdominal cramps and pain.
- Fungal Infection In Vagina – You may see brown cervical discharge along with foul-smelling odor from your vagina. It may indicate a fungal yeast infection.
What Do You Need To Do About Your Brown Discharge?
As discussed above, many causes for your brown discharge are pretty normal and nothing to worry about. For some it may be before, for some during and for some after periods. It may also be due to some pretty good reason like maybe you got pregnant! Knowing about this will help you better understand the reason, and when you feel that it is accompanied with other symptoms which have started during your periods, you can consult your gynecologist earlier and get diagnosed and treated.
- Keep a track of your periods
- Observe for any pattern break, whether they have become irregular, prolonged or short
- Observe the length of your periods, whether there is sudden change in the duration, for example, normally your periods last 4 to 5 days and now they are lasting more than 7 days and have become heavier or less
- Observe if you are having any abdominal, low back or pelvic pain before, during or after your periods which you did not have before
- Observe whether you are developing fever every time during your periods
- Whether you are just having brown spotting during your periods and no proper bleeding at all
- If you are in your middle age and brown spotting starts along with irregular cycles
- If you have itching in your vaginal area along with brown mucous and foul-smelling discharge
- If you see brown spotting frequently after intercourse
- If you have pain along with brown spotting between your periods.
When you know what is going on in your body and when you know your vaginal discharges better, you are able to handle them better. You can avoid serious fertility issues, may be able to detect serious underlying disorders also if you know what is normal and what is not and when you should visit your doctor, which would help you get diagnosed and treated soon.