Brown discharge before a period is usually a discharge from the vagina that has blood. Normally, vaginal discharge is thin and white or clear. When the discharge is brown, it is more likely to have small amounts of old blood. When the old blood takes longer to come out of the uterus it turns brown.
It is typically harmless. However, it could be an indication of an underlying health condition.
What causes the brown discharge?
The brown discharge before the period can occur for various reasons such as:
When not pregnant
When one is not pregnant, the discharge may be caused by:
Old blood coming out of the uterus some days after the end of a period
A period when about to start, whereby the flow is light
Spotting of ovulation, which is pinkish-brown
Reaction to a vaginal exam or Pap smear test
Reaction to a vigorous sex
Brown or pink discharge or spotting before a period is an early sign of pregnancy.
This discharge is caused during the implantation process whereby bleeding occurs as the fertilized egg burrows into the lining of the uterus. The implantation can happen between 1 and 2 weeks after the egg has been fertilized.
Brown discharge before a period can also be an indication of perimenopause, especially for the women in their 40s or 50s. This is the transition period just before menopause, when the periods are about to stop.
What are the most serious causes of the brown discharge?
There are other very serious causes of the brown discharge. They can happen at any age irrespective of whether the woman is pregnant.
Such serious causes are:
Pelvic inflammatory disease:
This is an infection of the uterus and cervix that can result to brown discharge.
Sexually transmitted diseases:
For some sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, one may notice the brown discharge in the vagina.
Retained foreign body:
If a foreign object is accidentally left in the vagina, brown discharge that is bad-smelling can occur. Such objects are condoms, tampons, and contraceptive rings.
Polycystic ovary syndrome:
This is a condition of hormonal imbalance. It may bring about irregular, light bleeding.
Cervical cancer. Brown discharge is a symptom of cervical cancer, although it is extremely rare. The National Cancer Institute studies show that cervical cancer affects about 0.6 percent of women in their lifetime.
When you should see a doctor
Brown discharge is less commonly a cause of concern and does not require you to see your doctor.
However, you should see your doctor if you get brown discharge that:
goes on for a number of weeks
happens often after sex
is accompanied by itching in the vagina
is accompanied by cramping or pain
Sometimes, the brown discharge may be a sign of a very serious condition. When this is the case, there are other symptoms that accompany the brown discharge. If you experience these symptoms, you should see your doctor straight away.