Most women expect to see clear or white sticky vaginal discharge at least a few days out of the month. Not surprisingly, women become concerned when that discharge changes from standard clear or white color to brown. The change in color can be especially alarming if you don’t expect your period and when it closely resembles blood. The good news is that light brown discharge, for the most part, is nothing to be concerned about. It can be an early sign that you are pregnant, and you can expect some bleeding when a fertilized egg places into the wall of your uterus.
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What Causes Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is a perfectly regular occurrence comprised of the excess fluid and mucus which your cervix and vaginal wall produce. All women have a secretion from puberty right through menopause. It is the body’s way of keeping the vagina healthy and clean by removing dead skin cells and bacteria from the vaginal area. This self-cleaning process is a way of infection prevention.
The hormones Estrogen and progesterone have a significant influence on the texture, color, and amount of produced discharge. No matter how light and scarce your brown secretion is, when it comes to it, it is always a sign of the blood presence. Generally, light brown spotting is always associated with:
1 – Menstrual cycle – You can notice light brown spotting a day or two before menstrual bleeding, which is entirely usual and ordinary.
2 – Pregnancy – If you experience light brownish spotting after unprotected intercourse and your period delays, you can consider this type of secretion (known as implantation bleeding) as the first sign of your pregnancy.
3 – Contraception – You can expect light brown discharge between two of your periods as a reaction to the hormonal contraceptives intake. Usually, you will have an adaptation period of maximum six months, and the spotting will gradually pass away.
Reasons Why Light Brown Discharge Can Occur
As I already said, the brown discharge shouldn’t be a reason for concern, since it is most often a sign of pregnancy or menopause. I will list you some of the most common causes of this type of secretion:
1 – Your first period in life – The first menstrual cycles can be irregular and followed by cramps and pain for many girls. Some of them can experience light brown spotting as well. Don’t worry; it is pretty usual occurrence until your body ‘learns’ how to deal with this new function.
2 – The ‘morning after’ pill – Don’t be surprised if you notice light brown spotting after you use emergency contraception. Well, Progesterone and Estrogen in the medication you use can sometimes cause some bleeding between your regular periods.
3 – Ovulation – Some women may see the light dark brown discharge around their time of ovulation. It occurs from the tenth to the fourteenth day, it is entirely typical because of a brief decline in the Estrogen level, and will only last a few days at most.
4 – Perimenopause – During the transition stage into menopause, some women may experience a change in discharge color. Brown is the most common, but sometimes they can notice yellow and Pink secretion as well. Anyway, for some women, this discharge can be massive and very uncomfortable.
5 – Implantation bleeding – Very often brown secretion before period can be a sign of early pregnancy. It is caused by implantation which typically occurs from the tenth to the fourteenth day after the fertilization of an egg when that egg attaches to the inside uterus wall. In most cases, this release appears as a single smear and will be very light. Given that this discharge can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, you should confirm you are pregnant by having an ultrasound.
6 – Old tissue – Many young women commonly experience brown discharge before their menstrual cycle begins. The secretion is the body’s way of getting rid of old tissue in the uterus remained there after last menstruation. After a while, this tissue gets dry which leads to a change of the discharge color.
7 – Irritation of your cervix – Sometimes gynecological examination such as Pap smears, or even rough sex can cause light brown spotting.
8 – Using drugs
- Anticoagulants – If you use this type of drugs to prevent your blood from clotting, you can expect their one side effect such as light brown spotting before your period. Some women experience abnormal bleeding during the period as well.
- Corticosteroids – These anti-inflammatory medications can cause light brown spotting between two regular periods.
- Phenothiazines – If you use these tricyclic antidepressants and antipsychotic tranquilizers, light brown spotting can occur off your monthly period.
- Aspirin, Warfarin, Heparin – They can also be a reason for some light brown secretion, and there is no reason for greater concern.
9 – Ovarian cyst – Sometimes an ovarian cyst can form inside or on the woman’s ovary. It can be entirely benign, but very often cause pain during menstruation and (or) intercourse. One of the symptoms can be light brown discharge.
10 – The polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – The usual symptom of this hormonal imbalance is irregular or absent periods. Consequently, a woman can experience light brown secretion between periods as well as weight gain, acne, dark skin on the neck or back, and excessive hair growth. The fact is that one out of every ten teen girls and young women has a problem with PCOS.
11 – Sexually transmitted disease (STD) – Discharge that is light brown may also be a sign of STDs such as Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and genital warts.
12 – Atrophic vaginitis – Women with this problem may experience pain, bleeding, and itching in the vaginal area. Sometimes women can notice light brown color discharge, but in most cases, this secretion is yellow and smells exceptionally unpleasantly.
13 – Cervicitis – Some non-infections such as exposure to chemical irritants, frequent douching, or trauma can be a reason for the irritation or inflammation in your cervix. The symptoms may vary and include light brown vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, itching, and so on. If STDs are a reason of cervicitis, you should visit your gynecologist right away.
14 – Uterine (endometrial) polyps – This condition can be a cause of brownish color discharge, heavy bleeding during menstruation and bleeding after intercourse.
15 – Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – It occurs when an infection affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the lining of the uterus, vagina, and cervix. This painful disease can cause brown discharge and almost always lead to infertility if untreated.
16 – Cervical cancer – In some cases, brown discharge can be a sign of cervical cancer. The cause is human papillomavirus. Symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, pelvic and leg pain. This severe condition requires an urgent visit to your doctor.
Brown Discharge from Vagina – When to Be Concerned
If you experience occasional light brown spotting, you probably don’t need to do anything. On the other hand, you should be concerned with brown discharge and see your gynecologist immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Pain during intercourse
- A foul smell of secretion
- If you feel dizzy, exhaustion, and pain in addition to the discharge
In any case, your gynecologist will be able to determine the cause of the discharge and advise you of the best treatment options.
Why is Your Period Brown?
Brown discharge is one thing, but what about brown blood? Is it normal to experience it during your period? In most cases, the answer is – Yes.
During your menstruation, it is perfectly normal to experience blood of different consistency and color. Most women will experience brown spotting towards the end of their periods. During the first few days of menstruation, the blood is newer and red.
However, as the cycle progresses, the blood flow becomes lighter and takes longer to pass through the body. If the menstrual blood stays longer in your body, you will notice the browner discharge.
Some women may also notice brown discharge after their period and during ovulation. It is perfectly usual, but if the release is accompanied by the symptoms listed in the above section, it’s important to see a gynecologist right away.
What Causes Brown Spotting Before a Period?
During a woman’s menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus builds up and starts filling with blood. This building up is a way for your body to prepare for a fertilized egg. If the egg is not fertilized, the lining will be shed.
Typically, your blood is red or pink, which indicates that the blood is fresh. However, it is not uncommon for your blood to appear brown. It is merely an indication that the blood is older and has taken a while to leave the cervix. Brown spotting can also occur a day or two before a woman’s period begins.
Brown spotting can also be a sign of trauma. Any damage to the cervix during intercourse can cause bleeding. The blood may take a while to travel through the body to the vaginal canal. During its moving, the blood gets older and turns brown.
Some issues such as a hormonal imbalance can also cause this type of spotting. When a woman has too little Progesterone, for example, her periods may be light brown.
Simply put, brown spotting before your period is pretty standard. However, if the bleeding stops before your period begin or if you experience it every month, see your gynecologist to rule out any severe underlying conditions.