It is, of course, nothing unusual if you notice some brown spots in your underwear, even if it is time for your menstruation. Women often notice brown discharge before the period. Maybe it is spotting, which means light bleeding that happens outside your regular menstrual cycle. There will not be enough bleeding to fill a tampon or a pad, but it would be visible on your underwear or the toilet paper.

Spotting can have a range of colors, and it can go from light pink to dark brown. When the color is brown, it means the color is coming from the old blood. This happens one to two weeks before you get your menstruation. For some women, this is a part of their cycle. But for some, this could be a symptom of any underlying serious health condition.

What Is Brown Discharge?

Vaginal discharge is something that happens almost every day, on a daily basis. In general, vagina discharge is mostly thin, clear or white. A few times, it could be of some different colors. When the color of the vaginal discharge changes to brown, it means there is some amount of old blood in it. Old blood that has been in the uterus for a long time can turn out to be brown.

Reasons Behind Brown Discharge Before Periods

Brown discharge could happen for a lot of reasons. Which includes:

When Not Pregnant

If you are not pregnant, you can get brown discharge because of the following reasons:

  • It could happen because the old blood is leaving the body after the end of the cycle. 
  • It is starting to menstruate and has a very light flow.
  • This could be because of ovulation spotting, which is often pinkish-brown.
  • The discharge could be because of the reaction of a vaginal examination or a pap smear.
  • This could also happen after having sex, more so if it was vigorous.

During Pregnancy

Spotting or pink or brown discharge before the period could possibly be an early sign of pregnancy. This is not something that every pregnant woman faces, but some of them do. This discharge happens because of implantation bleeding. This is when the fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus. After the fertilization of the egg, implantation bleeding can happen for up to 1 to 2 weeks.

If you are someone who is experiencing this discharge after having sex, then it is best that you take a pregnancy test. If you are pregnant and are getting a dark brown discharge, you should contact a doctor immediately.

But mostly, a brown discharge during pregnancy is not a cause of concern. But sometimes, it might be a symptom of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

Approaching Menopause

Females who are in their 40s and 50s often get brown discharge before they get their periods, and that could be a sign for perimenopause. This is a phase before menopause when you get your period, but there are symptoms that it is about to stop. A few other symptoms are like:

  • mood changes
  • vaginal dryness
  • night sweats
  • hot flushes
  • trouble sleeping

More Serious Causes Of Brown Discharge

Well, the reasons mentioned above are not all. There are some serious reasons behind it as well. This could happen at any age, irrespective of whether you are pregnant or not. But these come with various other symptoms. Some of the other causes behind brown discharge before periods are:

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

PID or pelvic inflammatory disease is a kind of infection in the uterus and cervix that often results in brown discharge. A few other symptoms include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen and the pelvis.
  • Experiencing pain during sex.pain during sex
  • Fever 
  • Foul smell in the vaginal discharge.
  • There is a burning sensation when you urinate.

If you think that you have PID, then consult a doctor. They might give you antibiotics to treat the condition.

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

If the color of your discharge changes all of a sudden, it could be because of STIs or sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Some of the other symptoms include:

  • Burning sensation when you urinate.
  • Foul smell in the discharge
  • Pain while having sex

Not everyone who has STIs experiences these symptoms, so it is best to get tested regularly if you are sexually active.

It is not difficult to treat STIs, but there are some serious issues that require some serious treatment. But antibiotics help in treating these conditions mostly.

Retained Foreign Body

Whenever there is a foreign object left inside the vagina, it leaves out an odor, along with a brown discharge. Objects that have a tendency to cause this are:

  • Tampons 
  • Condoms 
  • Diaphragms, vaginal contraceptive sponges, or cervical caps
  • Contraceptive rings 

If you notice vaginal odor along with brown discharge, go check with a doctor, as there might be some object left inside the vagina and can even cause vaginal infection.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is actually a hormonal imbalance. This might be the cause of a brown discharge from light or irregular bleeding. There could be other symptoms like:

  • Irregular periods
  • Missing cycles
  • Getting very heavy periods
  • Facial hair growth and excess hair on the body
  • Oily skin or acne
  • Pain in the pelvis
  • Difficulty in conceiving
  • Discolored skin along with patches.

PCOS is known to affect 5–15% of females who are of reproductive age. If you suspect that you have PCOS, contact a doctor. There are a lot of treatments available these days. To decide which is the most suitable treatment for you, the doctor could ask you these possible questions.

  • The symptoms
  • If you have other health problems
  • Whether you want to conceive now

A few treatments of PCOS might make it more difficult for you to get pregnant. Your doctor would know which is the most suitable treatment for you if you want to conceive.

Cervical Cancer

The change in your discharge could be a symptom of cervical cancer. Some of the other symptoms include:

  • You might experience pain during sex
  • There could be bleeding after sex
  • Longer and heavier periods
  • You could even bleed in between periods

When Should You See A Doctor

Brown’s discharge is generally not a cause of concern, and most of the time, it does not require you to contact a doctor. However, you should contact a doctor if you are having brown discharge along with these symptoms:

  • If the discharge continues for more than one week
  • Brown discharge happens frequently after sex
  • The discharge smells bad
  • The discharge is accompanied by cramps and pain
  • It comes with vaginal itching

Sometimes, brown discharge before periods could be an indication of something more serious. If that is the scenario, you will notice some other symptoms along with it, as I discussed above. You should check with a doctor immediately if you notice these symptoms.


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subhasree nag
Subhasree is a content writer who is passionate about traveling, writing, and reading books. In her leisure time, she is seen listening to music and watching web series. Writing along with music and dance are ways in which she expresses herself.

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