As we all know that our body always helps us to understand and find out what is normal and what isn’t. Paying close attention to specific changes that occur in the body can help one pre-empt diseases and take proactive steps to stay healthy. For females undergoing menstruation, understanding menstrual blood color or consistency will tell a lot more about internal health.
BROWN DISCHARGE BEFORE PERIODS?
Brown discharge before periods is usually normal. It is an accumulation of blood collected in the uterus during the previous menses. Typically, 1-2 days prior to the commencement of next menses, the uterus contracts and removes this old blood which is brown in color. Occasionally, the brown discharge maybe accompanied by small clots which is considered normal as well.
When to see Doctor?
Whilst brown discharge is normal amongst females in varying flow & consistencies, it is imperative to be vigilant about any signs of abnormalities. Some key signs to watch out for:
- If menstrual blood remains brown throughout the flow
- If the flow accompanied with large dark brown clots
In case there is a persistent abnormality as enlisted above, it is recommended that one visits a doctor/specialist for further check-up.
Why is this blood brown in color and not red?
Generally, blood collected from last menses stays in the uterus for a long time. During this period, it comes in contact with air which causes oxidization of blood and turns the red color to brown. This brown blood comes out through the vagina before the commencement of menses, due to increased uterine contractions. Once the brown blood is entirely expelled out, normal menstrual bleeding commences, which is red in color.
Sometimes along with brown discharge, one might experience irregularity in flow or there may be a change in the duration of menses ;either an increase up to 6 days or reduction down to 3 days. It is advisable to consult a doctor and get investigations done to get an appropriate diagnosis, if this condition persists.
What will be other reasons for normal brown discharge?
Ovulation: During ovulation, an egg is released from the ovary by rupturing the ovarian follicle. The ovarian follicle is an oval structure beneath which the egg (Ovum) is situated. Because of this follicular rupture, one may experience spotting or discharge which may be brown in color.
If one tracks their date of ovulation monthly, then it is easy to identify this discharge without getting worried.
Perimenopausal period: Perimenopausal period is a phase before one undergoes menopause. During this phase, periods start becoming irregular with varying flow and consistency. Gradually the cycles taper down and eventually stop leading to Menopause.
Perimenopausal period is associated with other symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, dryness, skin changes, etc. During this phase, one may again experience brown discharge rather than bright red menstrual flow.
To identify whether the discharge is due to perimenopause or other causes ,one needs to consult a doctor for correlation with the prevailing symptoms.
Sexual Intercourse: Occasionally one may experience mild brown discharge following sexual intercourse. It is usually a normal response by the female reproductive organs following intercourse and might last for 1-2 days. But if this discharge lasts longer, becomes bright red in color or is accompanied by vaginal pain, then consult a doctor immediately.
Implantation Bleeding: Implantation bleeding is a small amount of bleeding that might occur during first month of pregnancy. This brown discharge or bleeding occurs when fertilized egg is getting attached or implanted into the uterine wall. Implantation bleeding might not occur in all pregnant women. If it lasts for more than 36hours, then consult a doctor immediately.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: PCOS is a widespread lifestyle disorder that occurs due to hormonal irregularities. In this case, brown discharge is usually observed along with other symptoms like irregular periods, scanty or substantial period, acne, facial hair, and weight gain.
Infections: During infections like vaginosis, Cervicitis or Urinary infection it is quite common to get brown discharge. This discharge is mainly due to bleeding from infected part or due to constant itching at the affected area.
STDs- Brown discharge may be caused by underlying sexually transmitted diseases like Chlamydia or Gonorrhea. In this case, brown discharge is accompanied with other signs of infection like fever, bad smelly discharge, burning sensation and swelling in genitals.
Birth control pills: If one is taking birth control pills (OCP’s) regularly or for prolonged duration, they may end up with irregular bleeding or brown discharge. Experiencing any of these symptoms while taking birth control pills needs a doctor consultation.
Ectopic Pregnancy: Typically, during pregnancy, fertilized egg gets implanted within the uterine cavity. But in some instances, it may get implanted in any other areas other than the uterine cavity. Such cases are called an ectopic pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancies may be accompanied by minimal bleeding which may be red to brown in color due to the abnormal location of the implantation. This condition can be diagnosed during an early pregnancy scan. Ectopic pregnancies are abnormal and can lead to serious complications. If diagnosed with it, one should consult a gynecologist at the earliest.
What measures to take when I get brown discharge?
One of the most important point one should remember while experiencing brown discharge is that if it occurs before the start of a cycle, then it is fairly a normal occurrence. One should also keep a track of the menstrual cycle to identify brown discharge during your ovulation.
If brown discharge occurs along with any of the following symptoms, it is advisable to see your Doctor immediately:
- Vaginal pain
- Itching in Vagina
- Brown discharge with bleeding
- Pain in the abdomen
- Irregular menses