What does brown discharge before my period mean?
It might be related to your period, you could be pregnant, or you could be going through perimenopause.
Spotting a bit of spotting? Usually, there’s no reason to be concerned.
But if you’re wondering what brown discharge before your period means, we’re here to uncover some answers for you.
In this article: 📝
- Is it normal to have brown discharge before period?
- What does brown discharge indicate?
- Can implantation bleeding cause brown discharge before period?
- What are other reasons I might have a brown vaginal discharge?
- When should I speak to a doctor about light brown discharge before my period?
Is it normal to have brown discharge before period?
The short answer is — it can be.
Your vagina produces some sort of discharge almost every day.
Usually, this discharge is thin and either clear or white.
It might even be so light that you don’t notice it at all.
There are various reasons why you might notice brown discharge as your period approaches.
We’ll take you through the possibilities.
What does brown discharge indicate?
If you spot brown vaginal discharge in your underwear or on some toilet paper, it’s usually a sign that there’s some blood in it.
Don’t worry, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Here are some possible explanations why this might be happening:
Your previous period is not quite done
Spotting sometimes takes place between periods and often just means that old blood is leaving your uterus.
This typically happens a few days after the end of your period, but can also take place a week or two before your next period starts.
If your spotting takes place about two weeks before your period, it could be a sign that you’re ovulating.
This is because your estrogen levels drop after you ovulate, which can cause bleeding and spotting.
The birth control pill stops you from ovulating, so if you’re taking it, something else might be causing your spotting instead.
Your period is on its way
If your period is just about to start and your flow is very light, it might look like brown discharge initially.
Pink or brown discharge before your period could be an early sign that you’re pregnant.
Not everyone experiences this as a symptom of pregnancy, but it does happen from time to time.
If you’re unsure, take a pregnancy test.
Other signs of early pregnancy include fatigue, breast tenderness, and bouts of nausea.
If you’re already pregnant, and you find some brown discharge, speak to your doctor.
It’s not usually a problem, but it could be an early sign that you are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy or other early pregnancy loss.
It’s important to get the reassurance or care that you need as soon as you can.
Can implantation bleeding cause brown discharge before period?
Yes, it can.
What is implantation bleeding, you ask?
Well, implantation bleeding happens when a fertilized egg burrows into the lining of your uterus.
Quite confusingly, it can cause some pinky-brown discharge and even a bit of blood, which can be mistaken for your period.
So, if you experience some discharge before your next expected period, or the bleeding looks a little different from normal, it could be a sign that you’ve conceived.
It can be tricky to tell the difference between your period and implantation bleeding.
One way is that period blood usually starts slow and ramps up, while implantation bleeding can be more on and off.
Color can also be a clue.
While both may start as brown vaginal discharge, period blood often turns to a more crimson red.
Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or trying not to, it may be worth taking a test.
It’s a good idea to make sure that at least 14 days have passed since you ovulated.
That will bring you to the time of about your next expected period.
Taking a test sooner may result in a false-negative result.
What are other reasons I might have a brown vaginal discharge?
If you’re approaching menopause, you may experience a brown vaginal discharge before your period.
This pre-menopause chapter is called perimenopause and usually happens in your 40s and 50s.
Perimenopause can bring with it a range of symptoms, including hot flashes, trouble sleeping, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and — you guessed it — brown vaginal discharge.
When should I speak to a doctor about light brown discharge before my period?
There are a few other, more serious reasons that explain a brown vaginal discharge.
You might have a yeast or bacterial infection or a condition like pelvic inflammatory disease, for example.
Certain sexually transmitted infections can also cause an abnormal discharge, as can foreign objects such as a forgotten tampon, ovarian cysts, and, rarely, cervical cancer.
If you are menopausal (1 year period free) and noticing brown discharge, you should get this addressed medically as it might be a worrying symptom of endometrial hyperplasia.
If you notice anything unusual, chat to your doctor, just to be safe. And call your doctor straight away if you’re also experiencing:
- A fever
- Pain in your pelvis or abdomen
- Itching, redness, or swelling in or near your vagina
- Blisters or sores on your vagina or vulva
- A change in the color, smell, or consistency of your discharge
- Painful urination
Your vagina goes through a number of ebbs and flows during your cycle.
And everything from a clear or white discharge, to a pink or brown discharge, to blood, is normal.
If you’re experiencing anything that doesn’t feel quite right, give your doctor a call.
You know your body best of all.