Brown discharge before a period is entirely normal and almost never cause for concern. In fact, period blood color or texture changes rarely are. Brown discharge in particular is a just result of older blood mixing with cervical mucus, but to ease your mind, let’s look at the most common causes of brown discharge before a period.
Causes of brown discharge before a period:
Ovulation: Sometimes ovulation will cause slight spotting which takes time to reach the vaginal opening resulting in it appearing brown by time it exits. Ovulation is normal in those who have hit puberty and occurs on average mid-cycle. Not all women experience ovulation spotting.
Hormonal imbalance: Hormonal imbalance, such as low progesterone, can cause spotting periodically throughout your cycle. Any cause of spotting or very light bleeding can result in brown discharge before a period. Minor hormonal imbalance is fairly normal as even small lifestyle changes in diet, activity level, sleep, stress, and more, can cause fluctuations.
Teens and those over 35 are also more prone to hormonal flux. These minor imbalances tend to resolve on their own. A difference in hormone levels from cycle to cycle is also normal. Continued imbalance or signs of a more severe imbalance (multiple missed cycles, very heavy periods, etc.) may require a visit to your care provider. Birth control or herbal options such as vitex may help balance hormones.
Implantation bleeding: When a fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall sometimes a small amount of bleeding occurs which can present as brown discharge before a period. If you’ve had unprotected sex and pregnancy is possible, you can read more about telling implantation bleeding from spotting here.
Cervical or vaginal damage: Damage to the cervix or vaginal wall may also cause light bleeding. The cervix is located at the end of the vaginal canal and serves as an opening to the uterus. Sex or PAP smears can cause this sort of damage.
Infection: Certain infections, including yeast infections, bacterial vaginsosis, and sexually transmitted diseases, can cause inflammation to the cervix which also causes bleeding. In this case, it’s likely you would see other symptoms as well such as odor, itching, or rash. Continuous brown discharge should be mentioned to your care provider.
Beginning or end of your menstrual cycle: Finally, depending on your personal hormone balance, your cycle may start or end slow with a day or two of light spotting before what’s considered a true flow. This light bleeding may appear brown or bright red, but is still entirely normal.
Hopefully one of the causes above clicks for you, and you have the relieving ah-hah-moment where you finally know what’s going on with your cycle. If not, we always welcome comments and questions here at Life with Gremlins. We do our best to respond to questions within 24 to 48 hours.