Unraveling the Mystery of Brown Period Blood: What You Need to Know
We all know that period blood comes in different shades, but have you ever wondered about brown period blood or vaginal discharge? Spotting in between periods is also a common occurrence. In this article, we will discuss the causes of brown period blood, spotting, and discharge, including when it's normal, and when it's not.
I. Normal Causes of Brown Period Blood
During the beginning and final days of your period, brown period blood is normal. The flow is typically light at the start of your period, which results in period blood that isn’t as red. It could also be remnants of blood leftover from your previous period. Near the end of your period, oxidation leads to brown period blood. The longer the blood stays in your uterus, the more it oxidizes, resulting in a brownish color. Taking iron supplements may also enhance the oxidation process. It's essential to note that these circumstances are entirely normal.
Brown vaginal discharge between periods is called breakthrough bleeding. This is a typical occurrence among people taking birth control, particularly those that contain low amounts of estrogen or progestin. The lack of estrogen in the pill may cause instability in the uterine lining, causing it to shed slightly between periods. The discharge may be pink or brown in color. Birth control pills, IUDs, and implants that contain progestin may cause a similar reaction. Once the body adjusts to the hormones, breakthrough bleeding will most likely disappear.
Mild trauma to the vagina can also cause brown discharge. For example, having sex or a PAP smear can cause irritation in the uterine lining, which leads to small amounts of blood loss. The blood mixed with regular discharge may appear brown in color.
II. Abnormal Causes of Brown Period Blood
Consistently brown period blood throughout your entire period is not normal. It could be a sign of low progesterone levels. Progesterone is a hormone released by the ovaries during ovulation. Its function is to thicken the uterine lining and prepare it for pregnancy. Low progesterone levels may impact your uterine lining's thickness, leading to less blood flow. It's best to speak with your doctor if you think that this may be the case. Our en-cycle-pedia offers a helpful illustration of fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels throughout the cycle.
Low progesterone can also cause premature shedding of the uterine lining, leading to spotting between periods. Progesterone not only thickens the uterine lining but also holds it together until your period begins. Low progesterone can destabilize the lining, causing some parts to shed before your period is due. Spotting can also be a result of your body adjusting to birth control. If you feel that this is the case, then there's no need to worry. However, you should see your doctor if the issue persists. Left untreated, low progesterone could increase the risk of infertility in the long run.
Brown discharge may also be a sign of a vaginal infection. When discharge becomes tinted with a brownish color, it's worth visiting your doctor. Brown discharge can indicate sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea. Along with brown discharge, other symptoms of infections include foul-smelling discharge, increased discharge, painful urination, itchiness, and fever. See your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms. Untreated infections can develop into pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which includes pain in the pelvic and lower abdomen areas and pain during sex.
PCOS is a condition characterized by an underlying hormonal imbalance usually paired with cysts on the ovaries and irregular cycles. Imbalances in reproductive hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and androgen can cause brown discharge. Brown discharge may replace a regular period. If you experience brown discharge alongside irregular menstrual cycles, acne, dark patches on the skin, etc., then consult with your doctor, as this may indicate PCOS. Though the cause of PCOS is unknown, it affects about 10% of women of reproductive age and can be managed with proper diet, exercise, and medical interventions.
Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial tissue grows outside of its normal spot, which is the lining of the uterus. Endometrial tissue may grow on your ovaries or along the pelvis, causing inflammation and intense pain. Similar to how your uterine lining sheds and becomes your period, the endometrial tissue growing outside of that area will also shed. However, unlike your period, the broken-down tissue cannot exit the uterus and will cause internal bleeding. The internal bleeding may escape and appear as brown discharge. Some symptoms that indicate endometriosis include pain during sex, painful urination and bowel movements during periods, and lower abdomen and back pain.
In conclusion, brown period blood, vaginal discharge, and spotting are all typical occurrences. However, if the blood is consistently brown throughout your entire period, then there may be an underlying issue, such as low progesterone levels, a vaginal infection, PCOS, or endometriosis. If you experience any of these, it's essential to speak with your doctor and not ignore them. Remember, seeking medical help is important, and keeping a note of your discharge may be helpful. The Aavia app can help you keep track of your period symptoms, including discharge and spotting.
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