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Brown Discharge Before Period: Should You Be Worried?

Brenda Albano

December 21, 2020

Brown Discharge Before Period Should You Be Worried

Brown Discharge Before Period

Periods in women are often associated with various problems, but if you see brown discharge coming out of your vagina before your periods, chances are that this is probably nothing serious. Although it might not be a problem, a common question arises in the mind: what is brown discharge before a period and what does it mean?

What is Brown Discharge?

Brown discharge in most cases is the old blood that’s taking extra time to leave the uterus. This kind of bleeding is generally known as spotting, as it does not align with your usual menstrual cycle and its volume is not sufficient to soak up a sanitary pad. It is visible against underwear or while wiping with toilet paper.

There isn’t a specific color associated with spotting and experts agree that the color can vary between light shades of pink to brown. Usually, when the blood is old and it is on its way out of the body before the actual menstrual cycle can begin, it transforms into a dark brown vaginal discharge. For most women, this is an early indication of a period that is about to begin after 7 to 10 days.

Spotting is a normal occurrence for some women and is usually associated with the menstrual cycle, while in others it can be an indication of a serious health problem. If you are regularly noticing this kind of spotting, here are some things to consider.

You Might Be Seriously Sick

To start from the most serious causes, spotting before period can be caused by one of the following health problems and it is important to get an appointment with your gynecologist:

1. Cervical Cancer

The least likely reason for brown discharge before a period can be cervical cancer. This cancer is not necessarily related to a menstrual cycle, as spotting due to it has been reported both after menopause and during active menstrual periods.

In most cases of cervical cancer, the brown spotting is accompanied by watery discharge from the vagina which often comes with an unpleasant odor. Blood clots are also common in such vaginal discharge and the patient might experience fatigue, malaise, muscle atrophy synonymous with other oncologic disorders, and pain in the pelvis.

Similar to other cancers, cervical cancer can be treated effectively if it is diagnosed at an early stage. For this reason, it is recommended by doctors to get regular lab tests and to discuss any extraordinary vaginal discharge with your gynecologist.

2. Foreign Body

Vaginal contraceptives and tampons are an example of foreign objects that can sometimes cause irritation leading to infection or sometimes spotting before a period. The spotting can be brown in color along with a bad odor. While simple spotting of any color because of the introduction of a tampon/vaginal contraceptive is normal, if it smells particularly bad, then it is recommended to get an opinion from a health care professional so that a possible bacterial infection could be averted by taking antibiotics.

3. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS disturbs the levels of testosterone (and other androgenic hormones) in the body, causing a disturbance in menstrual regulation. As menstruation is disturbed so is the process of ovulation. As a result of PCOS, light brown discharge before a period or without a period may be experienced.

As PCOS disrupts the normal regulation of hormones within the body, this may result in problems such as acute acne on the face, excessive body hair, unusually oily skin, and infertility, as very little or no ovulation takes place. If you suspect PCOS symptoms, then it is recommended to get an earlier diagnosis and work with your doctor to better manage PCOS through medicines and changes in your routine. Read more here the natural ways to help overcoming PCOS spotting.

4. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

The most dreaded cause of light brown discharge before a period can be STIs, because these infections usually affect the inner lining of the vagina, causing it to discharge runny fluid, blood, or infectious matter.

One sign of an STI is a burning sensation during urination. In addition to that, STI causes pain in the pelvis, which can even make sex a painful activity. Before an STI develops into a serious problem it is better to get checked by a qualified doctor and manage the symptoms.

If STIs are left unchecked, they can convert into an inflammatory disease of the pelvis known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). While this condition is treatable with over-the-counter antibiotics, if left untreated, it can cause irreversible damage to your reproductive health.

Other than the above mentioned serious problems, the following potential reasons for vaginal spotting can help you better understand what brown discharge is before a period:

  • You Are About to Hit Menopause

The years leading up to menopause are usually accompanied by fluctuation in hormonal levels and as a result, the menstrual cycle is affected. The improper menstrual cycle can cause either heavy bleeding or sporadic spotting. This spotting can consist of old blood, which may explain the brown spotting related to the menstrual cycle.

  • Your Ovary Just Released an Egg

Usually, women ovulate after two weeks from the day their menstrual bleeding stops. During the process of ovulation, women undergo numerous hormonal changes that occur in preparation for conception after the successful fertilization of an egg. Estrogen is one of the hormones that fluctuate the most during ovulation and can be a probable cause of brown-colored discharge from the vagina.

  • You are on Birth Control Pills or Medications

Birth control can be achieved through hormonal control by taking pills. These pills keep your hormones at non-conceiving levels, making conception difficult. If pills are missed for a few days during the first few months of their use, then brown colored spotting or vaginal discharge may be experienced. This spotting is unrelated to the kind of hormonal birth control pill that you are taking; however, if the bleeding continues for an extended period, then it is better to consult a gynecologist regarding the condition.

You Are About to Have A Baby

The answer to the question ‘Is brown period blood a sign of pregnancy?’ is possibly yes. When an egg is fertilized, it immediately attempts to attach itself to the uterus to initiate the developmental cycle. During this attaching process, brown spotting can be experienced but it is not universally common, as most people do not experience this. This kind of spotting once started usually subsides in up to two days.

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