My period has turned brown; what gives?

Typically, brown blood during a period is normal. At the end of the menstrual cycle or during ovulation, it frequently manifests. A doctor should be consulted if additional symptoms are present.

When it comes to your period, you probably know what to anticipate: how long it will last, when it will be the heaviest, and which days you will feel the worst. Therefore, you might be worried if you notice something unusual, like brown discharge or dark brown blood.

Every woman has a unique menstrual cycle. You might have a regular cycle with few cramps and brief periods. Some women may struggle to get out of bed the first few days of their period, bleed profusely, and never be sure how long it will last. Even if your period is predictable and regular, you might still notice variations from month to month.

Brown blood during your period is typically normal.

Throughout your menstrual cycle, your blood's color and consistency can fluctuate. One day it might be thin and watery, and the next it might be thick and clumpy. It could be heavy or light, bright red or brown. Your menstrual cycle will likely vary in length, heaviness, and discomfort.

The end of your cycle is typically when you start to notice brown blood. The blood is typically red as your body sheds the uterine lining during the first few days of your cycle. However, the discharged blood is older and sometimes discolored near the end of your cycle.

Sometimes, during ovulation in the middle of your cycle, you experience spotting or brown discharge. Younger girls who are just beginning to have periods, women beginning birth control, or women approaching menopause are more likely to experience this. In order to ensure that bleeding between periods is not a sign of a larger issue, you should consult a physician or nurse practitioner.

When using certain birth control methods, brown discharge may appear during or even between periods. These include contraceptive implants like Nexplanon, also referred to as "the bar "Because birth control alters your hormone levels, brown discharge is frequently typical, even at the start of your period.

Sometimes a problem can be detected by a brown, bloody discharge that is present along with other symptoms.

If you are pregnant and bleeding is brown, call your doctor right away. This may indicate that there is a problem with your pregnancy. You might require urgent medical attention.

If you experience any of the following, call your doctor right away:

  • periods longer than seven days
  • either less than 21 days or more than 35 days should pass between periods.
  • being menstrually free for more than three to six months
  • between periods bleeding
  • bleeding following sex
  • bruising following menopause
  • any time of the month, spotting (of any color
  • groin or lower abdominal pain
  • a fever that might be an infection
  • fatigue1
  • heavy bleeding that goes beyond the scope of your period
  • following the placement of an intrauterine device (IUD), brown discharge
  • seeing brown discharge while taking the breast cancer medication tamoxifen

Brown discharge during your period can also be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Other PCOS signs and symptoms include:

There is no known cause of PCOS. It can be genetically transmitted. Ask your doctor to test you if your brown discharge occurs along with these other symptoms. You may be more vulnerable to illnesses like type 2 diabetes, infertility, and cardiovascular disease if PCOS is left untreated. Early detection and treatment can assist in preventing the emergence of these problems.

Menopause is one cause of brown discharge, but it's not always a problem. Discharge, however, may signal a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like gonorrhea or chlamydia or a yeast infection that needs to be treated. Brown discharge may also be a symptom of inflammatory diseases like vaginitis or cervicitis. Brown discharge may occasionally be a sign of cervical cancer. If you believe you might have any of these conditions, consult your doctor. If you haven't already, you might think about getting the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine or routine cervical cancer screenings.

Early in pregnancy, some light bleeding or brown discharge is normal; however, whenever you experience bleeding while pregnant, you should contact your doctor or midwife.

A brown pregnancy discharge may indicate an early miscarriage. If you notice brown discharge, take note of any additional unusual symptoms you may be experiencing, such as tissue or heavy pink fluid coming from your vagina. Additional indicators of an early pregnancy include:

Consult a medical professional right away if you experience any combination of these symptoms to make sure they don't indicate an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

Some substances, such as alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine, as well as cigarettes, can result in miscarriages. Pregnant women are advised to completely avoid all of these substances.

After having a baby, a similar discharge with varying color patterns known as lochia may manifest. Observe the advice of your physician or midwife regarding when to follow up.

Brown discharge following an abortion is another common occurrence. If you recently had an abortion, adhere to the instructions provided regarding who to contact and when to do so if you experience any symptoms.

Your menses could alter as you get older. Perimenopause refers to the period that precedes menopause. During this stage, brown discharge is normal so long as you don't experience any other unusual symptoms. Once 12 months have passed since your last period, menopause officially starts. After 12 months without a period, you should not experience any bleeding or brown discharge during the postmenopausal stage.

The majority of the time, menopausal bleeding or discharge is not a serious issue. Blood and discharge, however, may indicate atrophic vaginitis, noncancerous cervix polyps, or other conditions, such as cancer, that affect your uterus or cervix.

Consult your doctor if it has been more than a year since your last period to rule out any conditions that could be causing bleeding or discharge. Many causes of postmenopausal bleeding are easily treatable, especially if they are discovered early.

Brown menstrual blood is typically nothing to worry about, but if you think your bleeding is unusual, talk to your doctor. Call your physician if you experience any additional symptoms that seem unusual.

Medical review completed on July 21, 2016

Our experts closely follow the health and wellness sector, and whenever fresh information is released, we update our articles.

Oct 5, 2018

Jul 21, 2016

By a physician reviewed

Kim Dishman, MSN, RNC-OB, WHNP-BC

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