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What Does It Mean If I Have Brown Discharge?

White and colorless discharges are perfectly normal while expecting a child and, most of the time are known as leukorrhea. But although these are specific to a pregnancy, it`s possible as during pregnancy to experience other types of discharges as well.

Dark Brown Discharge

Dark brown discharges are something that concern pregnant women pretty much. Although in most cases there are no reasons to worry, it`s best to exclude situations that can lead to complications. Here are the causes of these brown discharges, what they can indicate and when it`s recommended to visit the doctor. Obviously, in any moment you feel that something is wrong, you should get in touch with the doctor.

Table of Contents

What Does It Mean to Have Dark Brown Discharge?

There are times when women notice some brown blood during their menstrual cycle and questions like “Why is my discharge brown?” start to pop up in their mind. This is pretty normal and it doesn`t mean anything else than the fact that the blood flows from your body at a much slower rate than usual. The older blood will become darker in color, but it doesn`t really mean that something is wrong.

You could have a brown discharge immediately after your period when your vagina cleans itself from the last traces of menstrual blood. Then this discharge becomes white, consistent, but it`s eliminated in small amounts. During ovulation, the vaginal discharge changes – it becomes more abundant and gains the consistency of egg whites. Towards the end of the period, you`ll again notice white consistent discharges.

All the above doesn`t constitute a general rule. Vaginal discharges can be different from woman to woman. They may change if you are sexually excited or depending on your diet or physical effort.

What Does It Mean when your Period Is Brown and Red?

Periods sometimes have this color because they contain old blood, which has remained in the uterus or vagina for a longer period of time and is then eliminated. The same colors can be noticed at the end of period when the blood flow decreases and is harder to eliminate. Thus, the brownish-red color suggests the presence of blood in the discharge. The cause is actually essential to determine if you need to worry or not.

Is it Normal to Have Brown Discharge during Pregnancy?

During the first trimester of pregnancy, dark brown discharges are relatively frequent and normal. They usually last 2 – 3 days and aren`t accompanied by other symptoms such as stomach pain, itching, burning or discharge with bad odor. It`s recommended to rest and avoid any activities that involve physical effort.
Discharges can occur during a sexual contact which sensitizes even more the cervix, which is already vascularized and more sensitive due to the pregnancy-specific hormones.

Towards the end of pregnancy, brown discharges may indicate that the birth is near. A few weeks or days before birth the pregnant woman can lose the gelatinous mucosa, which covers the opening of the cervix before birth. If there are pinkish or brownish discharges towards the end of pregnancy, it`s best to get in touch with your doctor. Birth can be right around the corner without you even knowing.

A miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, issues with the placenta or infections of the cervix can also cause such discharges, but most of the times they are also accompanied by bleeding, back pain or contractions.

Additional Causes

  • The egg`s implantation – This implantation can cause a small bleeding, but often it can be unnoticed. Still, if a different type of bleeding appears, it`s better to consult your doctor.
  • The irritation of the cervix – The increase of blood flow in the area of the cervix and uterus leads to an increased sensitivity and, thus, an increased risk in irritations. Sexual contacts may also cause certain irritations.
  • Cervical or vaginal infections – These are often accompanied by bleeding and brown discharges, but more often are accompanied by itching and pain.
  • Cervical polyps and fibroids – These are other causes that require additional investigations. These can be detected at a gynecological examination.
  • Blood diseases – There are certain diseases that are related with the process of coagulation and which need to be communicated to the doctor or investigated when there are suspicions.
  • Birth control pill – If the doctor advised you to take birth control pills, it`s normal to experience some spotting in the first 3 months from the day of their administration. There will be a brown spotting which may appear between periods as well. Even when using an intrauterine device (IUD), there`s a possibility for this unpleasant side effect to appear. If you want to be sure you don`t need to change your birth control method and that everything is in order, you should talk to your doctor.
  • Stress – Stress can also be one of the reasons for such vaginal discharges. Sometimes, due to emotional changes, use of alcohol, stimulants or various substances you may become stressful. Stress hormones might sometimes have some sort of an impact on your sex hormones which in turn could affect your period or may lead to a discharge of a darker color.

When & Why Dark Brown Discharges Appear?

There are 3 types of situations that can lead to this type of vaginal discharge, which is based in fact on a small quantity of blood (spotting dark brown blood) that wasn`t eliminated in time. Before contacting a gynecologist, it`s best to be careful to all the details so you can explain to the doctor what it`s all about and so he can have some reference points from which to start expressing a thought about your condition and what tests should be made.

Here`s when and why these discharges may appear:

Dark Brown Discharge before Period

This can be caused by:

  • If you are ovulating, a colorful discharge is normal and you don`t have to panic even if you have cramps. Usually, depending on the ovary that eliminates the egg in that particular month, you may feel a small discomfort in your left or right side;
  • A microtrauma that happened during sex;
  • A hormonal disorder, related to the thyroid or to a shortage of progesterone in the organism;
  • Endometriosis;
  • A sexually transmitted disease, like trichomoniasis. In such a case, the discharge is accompanied by other discharges with unpleasant odor and burning or even pain;
  • Clotting issues;
  • In the most severe cases, it can even be about cervical cancer, a disease that can be avoided by regular checking and performing annual tests.

Dark Brown Discharge Instead of Period

If you`re asking yourself “Why is my period brown?”, you should know that such discharges aren`t normal and you should contact a gynecologist immediately if you have them. Among the causes we can enumerate the following:

  • Hormonal imbalances;
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome accompanied by prediabetes;
  • As a result from abortion;
  • Amenorrhea caused by a sudden weight loss or stress;
  • Near menopause – after the age of 45, women notice that the normal period was replaced by a brown discharge.

Dark Brown Blood after Period

Some of the most common questions in most women`s mind after period is “Why do I have brown discharge?” or “Why am I spotting brown?” Brown spotting after period it`s a normal thing to happens. At the ending of the period, the blood may coagulate faster, so it`ll be harder to eliminate. That`s why you shouldn`t be concerned when you see a brown leaking in the last days of your period. Still, it`s better to talk to a doctor just to be sure, especially if these discharges have an unpleasant odor because it may be related to a bacterial infection.

The discharges that happen immediately after your menstrual cycle are part of a process of the vagina cleaning itself of the last traces of menstrual blood. Then the discharges become white, thick, but they`ll be eliminated in small amounts. During ovulation, vaginal discharges become more abundant. Towards the end of the period, you`ll notice again a thick white discharge.

Brown Colored Discharge: Ovulation

On occasion, uterine cells may slough off before ovulation. Then you may notice how your discharge is changing color to darker brown. This type of spotting generally happens before or during ovulation, and generally occurs right in the middle of the period.

Brownish Discharge (Pregnancy)

If your period is late and you noticed a brown discharge, it`s possible to be pregnant. This phenomenon is known as implantation bleeding and it`s pretty normal to happen. Still, when the bleeding is taking place once the fetus has reached a certain stage of development; and more than that, you`ll also experience symptoms like nausea and abdominal pain, and you should get in touch with a specialist immediately because this may be related to a possible miscarriage.

Brown Discharge after Sex

After sex, the vagina produces various types of fluids, but this usually means nothing else than the fact that you have sexual organs that function properly. However, there are situations when such a vaginal discharge could indicate an infection or a STD (sexually transmitted disease). The odor is the one that can offer you more clues about your condition. Depending on its consistency or its odor, your discharge could be normal or you may need immediate assistance from a doctor.

When to See the Doctor?

If brown discharges are accompanied by fever, abdominal pain, cramps or dizziness, it`s necessary to contact a doctor immediately. These symptoms can have 2 causes:

  • Ectopic pregnancy – when the egg is implanted in the fallopian tubes, an immediate medical consultation it`s required to save the fallopian tubes as well as the mother`s life. This is also why an ultrasound is recommended at the week 5 of pregnancy.
  • Miscarriage (for example, caused by a pregnancy stopped in evolution) – manifests itself by bleeding, abdominal pain or cramps, dizziness, abdominal discomfort. An immediate medical consultation is important in this situation as well.

Certain issues with the placenta can be discovered as a result of brown discharges. Placenta praevia is the situation when the placenta covers the opening of the cervix. The pregnant woman can experience bleeding and dark discharges of a brown color, but also abdominal pain. In these cases, it`s not possible a natural birth.

Placenta abruption represents the premature separation of the placenta from the inner wall of the uterus. This is a situation which puts in danger both the mother`s and baby`s life, and it needs to be detected by the doctor. Most of the times, placenta abruption occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy or even after the week 20. Among the risk factor that can lead to this situation are high blood pressure, smoking or fibroid tumors, low level of folic acid or even multiple pregnancy. Vaginal discharges are more abundant in this case, and the medical examination needs to be made urgently.

Vaginal infections or inflammations can cause discharge of a brown color. Even if there may be small imbalanced in the vagina due to a pregnancy, it`s better to make investigation from the start if there are any issues. This way, the cause can be treated from the first stage and there are no other risks or complications along the way.

How to Protect during Pregnancy?

  • Take as much rest as you need, especially when you feel your organism needs sleep.
  • Limit physical effort as much as you can, especially during the first trimester as well as the third one.
  • Lift your legs on a pillow when you sit in bed or use a small chair when you sit down.
  • Avoid internal tampons because they may lead to vaginal infections.
  • Don`t take medication without talking to your doctor first, even if it`s isn`t stipulated on the package that it isn`t contraindicated during pregnancy.

Overall Conclusion

A dark brown discharge might have lots of causes, but when they are accompanied by other symptoms or when they appear during pregnancy, it`s very important to turn to professional help and to make a series of tests to find out the real cause of the problem.

Image courtesy of momjunction.com

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