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Brown discharge before period: norm or pathology?

Normally, vaginal discharge is observed throughout the whole menstrual cycle. Between periods it is usually transparent and does not have any specific smell. Brown discharge before period can be determined by both physiological and pathological factors. The first type of discharge includes ovulation and implantation bleeding, as well as bleeding associated with the organism’s response to the intake of hormonal contraceptives. We also distinguish between three groups of anomalous brown vaginal discharge.

Brown coloring of vaginal mucus is determined by a little amount of blood, contained in it. Small amounts of blood congeal and darken rather fast. Profuse bleeding is different from spotting not only by its volume, but also by scarlet coloring of discharge.

When does brown vaginal discharge before period constitute a norm?

There are three most common and relatively harmless types of bleeding between periods. Among them, ovulation bleeding should be mentioned in the first place. It appears in the form of brown spotting about 2 weeks prior to the start of periods (in case of a 28-day cycle). It is determined by individual features of the ovum’s emergence from the follicle.

Its distinctive features are as follows:

  • Occurring at the time when ovulation is expected to take place, i.e. approximately in the middle of the cycle;
  • It entails small amount of blood loss, as a rule, it appears in the form of spotting on the underwear;
  • It lasts for 3 days;
  • It is accompanied by non-intensive pain or abdominal tingling, caused by the ovulating ovary, or else it may not involve any pain.

The second common cause of spotting is associated with the intake of hormonal birth control pills. In this case bleeding may be observed in the period of organism’s adjustment to the drug. Regardless of the method of introduction (intake of pills, injection, contact means), the result of such contraception involves transformation of the hormonal profile. Adjustment to such an alteration is fraught with appearance of occasional scant uterine bleeding. Recurrent brown spotting, which lasts up to 3-6 months is considered to be normal. Further persistence of bleeding requires clinical consultation and possible substitution of the hormonal contraceptive.

The third physiological cause of brown discharge before the expected period is the so-called implantation bleeding. It occurs a few days prior to the usual period and is produced by vessels that are affected by the invasion of the ovum. It is most often followed by a delay of period.

Diseases that are accompanied by pathological brown discharge before period

These diseases can be both general and particular – related to the reproductive system. Extra-gynecological factors that might cause brown vaginal discharge, include blood coagulability issues, including the organism’s response to certain drugs, as well as endocrine pathologies, such as thyroid dysfunction.

Affection of genitalia can also be classified into three groups: infectious, oncological and other types. Sexually transmitted diseases provoke appearance of brown discharge before period, which is additionally accompanied by burning, unpleasant smell and might be sticky or foamy.

Oncological pathologies which may cause brown spotting, include uterine fibromyomas, cervical cancer, malignant and nonmalignant transitions of vaginal endothelium. Endometriosis (proliferation of endometrial lining out of the uterine cavity) and adenomyosis (invasion of endometrial lining into the muscle layer of the uterine walls) deserve special attention. In these cases the discharge may acquire brown coloring after a sexual intercourse or for no obvious reason. This type of bleeding usually does not involve pain.

Other reasons of brown vaginal discharge before the expected period are as follows.

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrom;
  • Dysfunctional uterine bleeding (with unidentified nature);
  • Disturbance of pregnancy.

You should seek medical help in case spotting appears a few times throughout the cycle, it is accompanied by discomfort and, moreover, is paralleled with general weakness, significant pain and obvious symptoms of infertility.