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Brown Discharge: What Does It Mean?

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Table of Contents

Going back in time, do you remember your first period? Do you recall a thin, clear, or white vaginal discharge or leukorrhea that you usually found in your undergarments?

This vaginal discharge could be experienced across a variety of colors that you might see certain changes in. Medically reviewed or written, these discharges are perhaps signs of a totally normal and healthy body.

However, this brown discharge could mean that you are not expecting your period as the brown spotting is similar to the color of the blood. Also, in most cases, it is medically reviewed that the brown discharge is not to be worried about.

What does a brown discharge or spotting instead of the period mean?

According to the healthcare provider, this vaginal discharge is perhaps a brown discharge that is tinged with old blood. This is why the spotting is “brown” in color.  This is as there is some blood in the uterus that takes much longer to come out that becomes older causing the brown color resulting in the brown spotting or a brownish vaginal discharge.

To have a better understanding of the reasons for this vaginal brown discharge, read this next list that has been medically reviewed by written medical sites and using Healthline media  websites  to understand what causes brown discharge:

1) Menstruation

Post menstruation, it is quite common to have or experience brown discharge for a few days. This brown discharge is nothing but a getaway of the old blood that is left in the uterus post menstruation. Alongside, you may also have a pinkish-brown spotting or pinkish-brown discharge, this may occur around the time of the ovulation (the midway point of the menstrual cycle, that is when the egg is released from either of the ovaries). However, one might not experience any brown discharge while costing any birth controls as they contain estrogen and progestin in them, which are the hormones that prevent the occurrence of ovulation.

2) The Pelvic exam

In other cases, you might have a vaginal discharge that is brown as a sign of the extra sensitivity down there. But, do not worry! Simply contact your healthcare provider and get a pelvic exam done. Also, it is completely normal for the brown discharge or spotting to occur or find its way out after a Pap smear. The pelvic test only collects several cells from the cervix with the help of a cotton swab or even a  soft brush. When the doctor does so, it might cause a little bit of breakthrough bleeding for the next few days.

On the other hand, it may also have some brown, blood-tinged discharge from sex, especially when the sex is vigorous.

3) Pregnancy or implantation bleeding

If you experience a brown discharge for a few days around the time of your period, it may be a sign of an early sign of pregnancy which could result when not using birth control. This early pregnancy mostly comes unnoticed and the women wouldn’t even notice any signs. 

This early pregnancy is due to implantation bleeding health conditions that occur once a fertilized egg gets attached or egg implants to the lining of the uterine and usually lasts for up to five to 10 days post-conception.

These symptoms like implantation bleeding are usually missed out as it gets really difficult for women to differentiate between the physical symptoms like bloating, breast swelling, and acne, or even premenstrual syndrome. 

Therefore, it is recommended by the medically reviewed to perhaps view if the brown discharge has occurred due to recent unprotected sex, as well as, your period is late, it may be a sign of pregnancy. It is better to take a pregnancy test in these circumstances.

4) Perimenopause

Are you in the right bracket of your age? Does this mean around the age of 45 or so? If yes, in case you experience a brown discharge, it could be a sign of perimenopause. In other words, the years before your body starts to transition into menopause as the estrogen hormones and progesterone fall in a similar way to a normal period. This is what results in irregular bleeding or brown spotting.

Additionally to the perimenopause, with respect to the content measurement audience insights, you may face major mood swings, insomnia, or even hot flashes, which could signify the coming of menopause.

5) Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

A brown discharge in other cases could also mean or maybe a sign of a more serious issue other than cervical cancer. This serious concern could be that of a PID or also known as a pelvic inflammatory disease that is a cervical infection.

The best and easy way to figure the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) out is to determine if you have any signs or other symptoms of abdominal pain or even pain during sex or sexual intercourse, fever, unusual smelling vagina discharge, or a sense of burning while urinating or consult your doctor to be on the safer end.

6) Ovarian cyst

It is a fluid-filled sac that is formed inside the ovary. The ovarian cyst is benign in most cases and can also cause a brown discharge along with abdominal pain or pressure, a dull ache in the lower back and thighs, and pain during sex and periods. However, know that generally ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms and can be easily detected via ultrasound.

7) Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome could also cause you to experience brown discharge. This is due to the hormonal imbalance that may also cause major and excessive hair growth, acne, and weight gain.

8) Cervical cancer

This is one of the most possibly serious reasons for a brown discharge. According to the National Cancer Institute, cervical cancer can be estimated only in about 0.6 percent of women, and it is only that percentage that could be diagnosed in their lifetimes.

In a cervical cancer scenario, the vaginal discharge would be accompanied by the pain while having sex and may also cause bleeding afterward. That could either be heavier or longer compared to the regular periods.

Brown discharge - What can you do to prevent it?

In cases where you aren’t pregnant but are experiencing a brown discharge be it before or after your period, it is completely normal and you need not worry about it. However, to be on the safer side, it is always better to consult your healthcare provider.

Also, to stay clear of the vaginal discharge, you might want to opt for a mental note to wear a panty liner until the discharge goes away.

This was all about the brown discharge and what it means before and instead of your period. Also, are you experiencing a mucus plug? Click and read on about the health information on losing your mucus plug in an article curated by the parenthood bliss. Happy reading and stay safe!

To Conclude

Brown discharge in most cases is nothing to be worried about. It is just old blood that has stuck around in the uterus and finds it exists via the brown discharge.

However, if you are quite concerned, are experiencing a vaginal discharge for a couple of weeks now, experience it frequently post-sex, if your vaginal area is itchy, your discharge smells funky or if it is accompanied by cramping, contact the health care provider immediately. As it could be a sign of an infection or even more serious condition. Also, remember to process your personal data too!

FAQs: Brown Discharge: What Does It Mean Before Or Instead of Your Monthly Periods.

1) Does it mean you are on your monthly period if you have brown discharge?

Not really! Experiencing a brown discharge could normally be a part of the monthly menstrual cycle of a woman. Also, concerning that it literally comes just post your period, it could come along too.However, in other cases, a vaginal discharge could be a sign or a result of a certain other medical condition, and if it is caused due to a medical condition, you will certainly experience other symptoms too.

2) What does brown discharge means before or instead of the period?

A brown vaginal discharge is mostly experienced post the monthly periods. Basically, it signifies a "cleaning out" of the vagina post the periods as it pushes out the old blood that stays back after the monthly period. This old blood resembles a brown spotting or discharge that may also seem to occur around or when you are ovulating or in the middle of the monthly cycle. In other cases, this brown spotting could also result as a sign of an early pregnancy that can be experienced at or just off the time of the otherwise normal monthly period.In either cases there is no need to get all worried, having a brownish discharge is completely normal and healthy for the body. For more reference, read the content above!

3) Does this brown vaginal discharge in any way signify pregnancy?

Yes, absolutely! Amongst the many reasons for having a vaginal discharge that is brown in color, is a reason for early pregnancy. This spotting may or may not be observed by most women and in such cases, it is always better to contact a health care provider for better advice and medical procedures. This is as this early pregnancy could also mean an implantation bleeding. On the other hand, while pregnant, this discharge could also mean or indicate a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy where the fertilized egg is implanted into a fallopian tube and not the uterus. Therefore, consult a doctor and take any steps ahead with concern to either of the cases mentioned.

On behalf of the editorial team at Parenthoodbliss, we follow strict reporting guidelines and only use credible sources, along with peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and highly respected health organizations. To learn about how we maintain content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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