Have you noticed a slightly brown coloured discharge in your underwear lately? You’re certain that it’s not your period and it’s making you a little tense? Don’t worry! It’s only brown discharge, and usually, it’s completely normal. Discover why brown discharge happens, and what it means.
Brown discharge is a cervical mucus that contains "old" blood, which takes longer to leave your body. Here are the top 9 causes of brown discharge:
- Your period:
Sometimes, your period begins or ends with a few days of brownish discharge. It's perfectly normal and not disturbing at all.
Pinkish or brown discharge may be a symptom of ovulation. At the beginning of your cycle, the level of oestrogen increases leading to the development of your uterine wall. After ovulation, the level of progesterone increases, which results in a thickening of your uterine wall. Slight spotting at the time of ovulation may be due to your uterine wall, which has developed but not yet thickened; this is due to the increase in oestrogen levels, but not progesterone. Why does this happen - Stress, change in food or emotional unrest could be the probable reasons.
Brown discharge during pregnancy can be of concern to many women. You should know that about one in five women go through this. This flow of blood is usually during the first three months of pregnancy. While this brown discharge may occur early in pregnancy, it should not be interpreted as a sign that you are pregnant. Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that nesting discharge exists. There are no universal symptoms of implantation, other than your menstrual symptoms. However, it is better to talk to your gynaecologist to rule out the possibility of a complication, especially if this brown discharge is accompanied by pain.
- Irritation in your cervix
Your cervix is a small sensitive thing! Gynaecological examinations or even intense intercourse can lead to brown discharge.
If you are over the age of 45, brown discharge may be an early sign of menopause, especially if accompanied by mood swings or insomnia.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause brown discharge. PID disease is usually accompanied by abdominal pain, pain during intercourse, fever, smelly discharge and a burning sensation when you urinate.
- Ovarian Cyst
An ovarian cyst is a small pocket of fluid that forms inside or on the ovary. Most of the time, it is mild; however, it can cause pain or a feeling of tightness, lower back pain, brown discharge and pain during intercourse or menstruation. Some ovarian cysts are asymptomatic. The only way to detect an ovarian cyst is to do an ultrasound.
- Oral Contraceptives
Brown discharge can occur due to hormonal imbalance related to the use of oral contraceptives (pills). In certain cases, such as forgetting to take the pill, changing the pill or taking an unsuitable hormonal dosage, the hormonal balance can get disturbed and lead to brown discharge.
- Cervical Cancer
Brown discharge due to cervical cancer is the most serious cause but it is extremely rare. According to the National Cancer Institute in the United States, only 0.7% of women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. In this case, a brown discharge will not be the only symptom. It will often be accompanied by pain during intercourse and bleeding after intercourse, heavier and longer periods, and bleeding between periods.
What to Do If You Notice Brown Discharge?
If you notice brown discharge, write the frequency down to check how often it occurs, whether it occurs in a specific phase of your cycle, or during/after a particular activity.
If brown discharge occurs for several weeks, regularly after intercourse or if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as vaginal irritation, strange odours or cramps, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.