Most of us experience the annoying problem of a brown vaginal discharge, right before or after the menstrual period. This is generally referred to as ‘spotting’ and mostly harmless. The common reason for brown blood menstruation is ovulation or slow discharge of menstrual blood.
However, in certain cases this brown discharge could be the symptom for a much serious health condition that may need expert medical attention and treatment. So, before you write it off as an annoyance that can surprise you by staining your clothing, read on and find out whether you need to pay more attention to it.
The most common and harmless cause of brown blood menstruation are:
Some women may experience a few days of brown blood vaginal discharge during ovulation. This is when the mature egg is released into the uterus for fertilization, from the ovary. This usually occurs during the 14th-16th day of a normal 28 day menstrual cycle.
Brown blood menstruation is much more common in women nearing their menopause as compared to younger women with normal menstrual flow. This is a natural phenomenon and is not a cause for worry. The lowering levels of estrogen results in the narrowing of the cervix canal and thus delays menstruation.
Brown blood discharge could be one of the early indications of a pregnancy. This is referred to as implantation bleeding and occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus wall. This could last for 3-4 days and color may vary from pink to brown.
If the uterus does not go back to its normal size after a pregnancy, it may take some time for the menstrual blood to be collected and clotted before it is discharged from the body. This blood can most likely be dark brown in color.
The rupturing of cysts in the uterus can also affect the thickness and color of menstrual flow. This often occurs postpartum.
This is a rare condition when the uterine lining tissue forms outside the uterus. Another condition called Adenomyosis causes the lining tissue to grow within the uterine wall muscles. Both these conditions can cause clotting and thickening of menstrual blood and thus the colour change.
A major reason for brown menstrual blood can be some amount of blood from your last period remaining in the uterus for some time and being discharged later. Emotional disturbances can thin out the uterine lining and thus delay the discharge of menstrual blood. The delay causes oxidation of the blood and hence the colour. Clots in the uterus can have the same effect too. This old blood is not a troublemaker and can be easily ignored.
However, the following causes for brown blood menstruation needs to be treated as they can pose serious health issues.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
This is an infection in the fallopian tubes, lining of the uterus, cervix, ovaries and/or the vagina. This medical condition can cause pain during intercourse and can even lead to infertility if left untreated.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases like genital warts, chlamydia and gonorrhea can also cause brown blood vaginal discharge and require immediate medical attention.
By far, this could be the most serious reason for brown blood menstruation. Cervical cancer is caused by Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. Other symptoms may include weight loss, pelvic pain, loss of appetite, leg pain, and fatigue.
Sometimes certain medication like oral contraceptive pills and steroids can also cause brown blood menstruation. DUB or Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding also causes the same effect. It is better to consult a gynecologist if the condition persists and is causing other symptoms like foul odour, pain or swelling in the vaginal area, a burning sensation etc.
Making appropriate lifestyle changes, following healthy habits and taking necessary safety measures during intercourse can solve most of the causes for brown menstrual bleeding. However, the brown discharge caused by ovulation, pregnancy or menopause cannot be prevented in any way.
Wearing cotton and loose fitting undergarments, avoiding douching, frequently changing sanitary napkins and tampons can also help prevent brown menstrual bleeding.
Brown blood menstruation due to delayed discharge of menstrual blood or old uterine lining can be treated easily with regular exercise and drinking adequate amount of water daily. Additionally, including parsley or papaya in your diet can also help. Fibrous foods like vegetables with their skins, brown rice and whole wheat can also be beneficial. Avoid a lot of sugar, spice and yeast. You can also dip tampons in yogurt before using them, so as to avoid fungal infections.
[Also Read: How to Get Rid of Bacterial Vaginosis]