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 It could be a worrisome when you notice brown discharge during your menstrual cycle in your underwear or when you wipe. However, brown discharge during your menstrual cycle is harmless and it’s mostly nothing to worry about. Usually, brown discharge is related to spotting in the days before your menstrual period begins or old blood from your menstrual period taking a longer time to leave your uterus.


Brown discharge can be referred to as cervical mucus which is coloured with old blood. As blood ages in your body, it turns to a brown colour instead of a bright red colour. The colour of discharge during your menstrual cycle changes due to your reproductive hormonal levels. A good knowledge of your menstrual cycle will help you understand the kind of changes occurring. During your menstrual cycle, you can be able to determine the cause of brown discharge by examining some symptoms and circumstances surrounding it. Probable causes of brown discharge include the following:

  1. YOUR MENSTRUAL PERIOD: Brown discharge sometimes occurs when your menstrual period is about to start or at the end of your menstrual period. It could also occur as at the time you are menstruating.
  2. OVULATION: Some women observe pinkish red or brown blood spotting during ovulation. This occurs due to changes in hormonal levels and when the matured egg leaves the follicle.
  3. PERIMENOPAUSE: Sometimes, during the early stages of menopause, you might observe brown discharge or spotting due to changes in your hormones. These early stages of menopause usually begin after forty.
  4. CERVICAL IRRITATION: Cervical irritation could occur due to gynecological exams, pap smears, sexual intercourse or placing objects into the vagina.
  5. POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME: Brown discharge can also be a symptom of PCOS as it occurs with other symptoms such as missed or irregular periods, acne, weight gain and excess hair on face or the body. PCOS is a hormonal problem which causes irregular menstrual cycle.
  6. BACTERIA VAGINOSIS: Bacterial vaginosis is a type pf infection which causes brown discharge. The main symptoms include a fishy smell which comes out from the vagina coupled with brown colour discharge. The condition tends to occur due to bacteria imbalance in the vagina.
  7. ENDOMETRIOSIS: If your menstrual flow is very heavy, coupled with intense pain and brown discharge before and after your period, it could be a sign of endometriosis. Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus begins to grow outside it to other parts of the pelvic organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tube or the cervix. You should contact your Doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms to prevent more severe cases of endometriosis.
  8. OVARIAN CYSTS: When ovarian cysts burst, they could cause bleeding before or after menstruation, which could become a brown discharge when mixed with cervical mucus. However, there are other symptoms such as ovulation pain, painful sexual intercourse, weight gain, vaginal bleeding outside menstruation and difficulty getting pregnant. Some ovarian cysts are asymptomatic, and they only be detected through ultrasound.
  9. SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES: If brown discharge comes with other symptoms like fever, burning sensation while urinating, pain during or after sexual intercourse or foul smelling discharge, it could be a sign of sexually transmitted disease as diseases such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, vulvovaginitis can all cause spotting or brown discharge.
  • CERVICAL CANCER: Brown discharge can be a sign of cervical cancer in rare cases if it occurs with painful sexual intercourse, weight loss, heavy or more prolonged periods, breakthrough bleeding during periods or weakness. It is the most severe case of brown discharge.


In conclusion, brown discharge is mostly normal. However, you should be able to track your menstrual cycle and any other symptoms to know the right time to seek your Doctor’s help. Your Doctor would be able to explain what is happening to you and treat any underlying condition.








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