Brown vaginal discharge instead of period may trigger several doubts in a woman’s mind. Of course, when having unprotected intercourse, the first question you may ask is: could I be pregnant? But anxiety can also lead you to think about the possible causes and impacts of such a change.
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Vaginal discharge is a mucus-like fluid secreted by glands inside the vagina and cervix, which is very important to keep clean the intimate area and prevent infections. During normal conditions, this fluid is clear, milky, transparent, with a light smell but not unpleasant.
However, it is important to be careful with any unusual changes and significant alterations in color and smell, as this may be a serious symptom of vaginal infections or conditions. Read on for some of the main causes of brown vaginal discharge.
Possible Causes of brown discharge instead of period
Brown discharge refers to old blood rejection from the vagina – blood that has oxidized and therefore turned brown – and can occur just before or after a period.
Brown menstrual discharge
Normally, menstrual periods should be repeated regularly and last 3 to 5 days. For normal vaginal discharges, the color is red chestnut, with a total volume of about 80 ml for all days of menstruation.
It is possible that vaginal discharge may appear brown or darker than normal a few days later, or just before the end of your period. This happens because the uterus did not clear all of the cells during the previous menstruation and will do so a little later.
In this case, it does not mean a health condition: the remains come first and then the expected menstrual bleeds occur. You may notice cafe-colored vaginal discharges, which are part of a natural process of cleaning the uterus in order to remove old blood remains.
Keep in mind that, occasionally, menstruation can be delayed due to inevitable physical disorders, such as late ovulation or effects of some medication you have already taken.
Conversely, you may sometimes see a dark flow several days before a period, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have your menstruation.
On the other hand, if the brown discharge occurs in the middle of a menstrual cycle, it may be related to hormonal disorders – a common situation for women under contraception, such as pills or rings.
As a result, some of the most common effects are changes and temporary irregularities in the menstrual cycle. This is why, sometimes, you can only have brown vaginal bleeds instead of periods.
Addition: Brown menstruation discharge may occur due to certain medications use, for example. B. antidepressants that cause coagulation disorders.
Brown discharge at early pregnancy
When you try to get pregnant, every little change in your body can be a warning sign. For instance, if you have light brown discharge instead of menstrual flow, do a pregnancy test at home because it is quite common to be a pregnancy symptom.
Best pregnancy tests to try:
This mild symptom of discharge in early pregnancy is known as implantation bleeding and is due to the fertilized egg set into the uterus wall, which causes the endometrial vessels lesions.
This event causes brown vaginal bleeding that occurs during the first few weeks of gestation, so it usually coincides with the expected date of menstruation and, thus, can sometimes be confusing.
Just keep in mind that such blood loss occurs a few days before the expected period, typically lasts only between one and three days, painless, and is often followed by other signs of pregnancy such as:
- Frequent urination.
- Tender breast.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal cramps.
In general, brown discharge in early pregnancy is not a concern, as the endometrial tissue lesion cures in less than two weeks. However, you should note that, in this case, the secretions are lower, so if the discharge is too much, you will need to consult your gynecologist as soon as possible.
Menopause or perimenopause
In early perimenopause, when estrogen levels begin to decrease, it is also possible that some women may experience brown vaginal discharge instead of a period, which indicates the end of the ovulation cycle.
In this phase, ovaries produce less estrogen and the whole reproductive system slows down. In addition, Brown vaginal discharge may be accompanied by symptoms such as vaginal dryness, night sweats, hot flashes, confusion and mood swings.
Sometimes, brown discharge instead of menstrual bleeding can be linked to hormonal disorders in the woman’s body. You should be careful with this sign and see a doctor or gynecologist for advice, as this unbalance in normal hormone levels could be the result of situations such as:
- Use of contraceptive pills or emergency pills.
- Prolonged stress.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Premature ovarian failure or endometriosis.
- Thyroid disorders.
When to consult?
No matter if you are pregnant or not, a brown discharge can rarely be a sign of a more serious condition, which can manifest as a change in quantity, consistency, duration, or even smell. It is, thus, very important to distinguish between normal and abnormal brown vaginal discharge.
In any case, it is always best to consult your doctor or gynecologist and perform the necessary tests to avoid possible complications, and start appropriate treatment according to your state of health, age, and symptoms.
Painful or smelly brown discharge
You should consult a doctor if your brown discharge is associated with other symptoms such as pelvic pain, burns, unpleasant odors, or itching. These may indicate fungal infection, vaginosis, or other infections, as well as the presence of a banal uterine pathology that should be monitored.
Brown discharge due to pills
If brown discharge occurs repeatedly and without missing pills, it can reflect a lack of pills adaptation to a woman’s needs (too much or too low in dose). It will then be useful to discuss it with the doctor, and consider using another pill or even another contraceptive to remove such brown discharge.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease is associated with serious infections in the upper genital tract and reproductive organs, such as the fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries. And this is often caused by venereal diseases such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
Although symptoms are not always obvious, brown vaginal discharge and unusual vaginal bleeding are some of the main signs. In addition to abdominal pain, urination discomfort, pain during intercourse, fever, and nausea or vomiting.
Brown discharge from the cervix
Sometimes, brown discharge doesn’t come from the uterus, but from the cervix. In this case, the cervix presents inflammatory symptoms: the mucous membranes, being very fragile, can bleed as soon as they are used.
The doctor may perform a vaginal discharge examination to rule out any infection, and/or pelvic ultrasound as soon as there is any doubt.
Mild tumors that develop in the uterus and, depending on their size, can cause symptoms such as bleeding between periods and brown discharges, pain in the pelvic area, discomfort during sexual intercourse, and a higher urge to urinate more frequently.
What to do if a brown discharge appears instead of period?
When a brown discharge appears instead of a period, women must first do a home urine pregnancy test. Doctors recommend blood tests, which are more accurate than urine tests and can detect pregnancy as early as 6 to 8 days after ovulation.
As your test results are negative, pregnancy has been completely ruled out. Nothing surprising! So, keep your mental balance and use a panty liner until your menstrual period is over.
However, any brown discharge that lasts longer than two weeks, that occurs frequently after intercourse, associated with itching in your vaginal area, smells bad, or is accompanied by cramps, should be good reason to seek medical advice as it may indicate infection or more serious medical problems.