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Most pregnant women assume that their bodies should not produce any kind of vaginal discharge during the nine months leading up to delivery. However, a brown vaginal discharge is in fact very normal during pregnancy and even to be expected at certain points throughout the three trimesters. When women notice a discharge during pregnancy, however, they may grow alarmed and fear that they are miscarrying their pregnancies. Before they panic, they are encouraged to learn more about why brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy most often occurs and why it may not be cause for alarm at all.
One of the most common causes of brown discharge when a woman is pregnant centers on her body’s attempt to get rid of old uterine blood. Most of the uterus’ blood is dispersed during a woman’s period. However, in some circumstances, small amounts of blood may linger behind in the vaginal canal and cervix. When a woman becomes pregnant, her hormone levels rise, causing the linings of her cervix, uterus, and vaginal canal to thicken in order to protect the pregnancy. This thickening of the organs’ walls causes the body to flush out the old blood.
Another more common reason for brown vaginal discharge involves the implantation of the pregnancy into the uterine wall itself. When a fertilized ovum implants itself into the uterine lining, it may cause a small amount of bleeding. The color of the blood often comes out as a medium to dark brown. The bleeding likewise typically occurs within days of the ovum being fertilized, which could cause a woman to believe that she is about to start a normal period. However, the bleeding is lighter, and it often lasts only for one to two days at maximum. Nonetheless, it is a sign that the pregnancy is progressing as normal and no cause for alarm.
Brown Discharge After Period
A woman’s body is typically very adept at eliminating all of the blood and tissue in the uterus during a menstrual cycle. However, in rare instances, blood and uterine tissue will remain inside the uterus, cervix, and vaginal canal. When this leftover blood finally makes its way out of the body, it may be brown in color. The color itself indicates that the blood was not produced recently and in fact could be days or even weeks old. Typically it is no cause for alarm unless women experience other symptoms with it.
As with brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy, the flushing of old tissue and blood after a period indicates that the body is simply removing bacteria, dead skin cells, and old uterine lining. A woman typically does not need to see her doctor for care unless she experiences itching, pain, fever, nausea, and other symptoms during the removal of this old blood. Pain and itching could indicate that she could suffer from an STD that requires prompt attention. Likewise, if the discharge has a foul odor, she may likewise have an infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics.
Pain, fever, and joint stiffness could also indicate that she suffers from pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. This disease, if left untreated, could contribute to her being at risk for uterine or cervical cancer. If a woman experiences brown discharge after a period or painful, itchy, and odorous brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy, she may do well to see her doctor and be tested for PID. PID is treatable if it is caught in time. Left untreated, however, it can reoccur numerous times and even cause an otherwise healthy pregnancy to miscarry because of the viral infection.
Brown Discharge Between Periods
Women who know that they are not pregnant or suffering from an STD may wonder why they experience brown discharge between periods. Old blood and uterine tissue can sometimes get left behind during a period and get flushed out days or weeks after a period has ended. However, when the brown discharge occurs between periods, it could indicate that a woman is going through perimenopause. Perimenopause occurs in women who are 35 to 45 years of age. Some women experience this condition earlier than age 35. Perimenopause indicates that a woman is nearing the end of her fertility and that she is within a decade or so of being completely menopausal.
As a woman nears the end of her fertility, however, her hormones change in her body. She no longer produces as much estrogen and instead produces hormones that cause her periods to change. They may become heavier and more frequent or they could become lighter and less regular. The hormonal changes also can cause a woman to experience brown discharge between what should be her normal periods. If she is completely healthy and not suffering from PID, any STDs, or cancer of the reproductive organs, she may find the brown discharge more annoying than a cause for alarm.
If, however, the brown discharge becomes heavier and is accompanied by symptoms like pain, fever, abdomen distension, excessive gas, faintness, or other physical distresses, she may be convinced to see her gynecologist immediately. She might need to be checked for cancer of her reproductive system. In most cases, however, brown discharge in between periods is normal for women in this age category. Even women younger than 35 can experience brown discharge between periods because of the accumulation of old blood in the cervix and vagina.
Brown Discharge Instead Of Period
Women who follow their cycles closely may be surprised to experience brown discharge instead of their normal period. Brown discharge instead of a period could indicate any number of things going on inside a woman’s body. First, if could indicate that the woman is pregnant. The occurrence of brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy most often occurs within days of an ovum being fertilized and implanting itself into the uterine lining. The act of the implantation itself causes the uterine lining to bleed in minute amounts. Most women see the bleeding as spotting, but not a heavy flowing of blood like the flow that occurs in a normal period.
The bleeding after implantation is short-lived, lasting only a day or two at the most. When women notice brown spotting that is light and only lasts for a day or two, they may have reason to suspect that they are pregnant, particularly if the spotting occurs about a week before their regular period is scheduled to start.
If the brown vaginal discharge occurs in place of a period and the woman is not pregnant, she may have reason to see her doctor for a full examination of her reproductive organs. Some women develop polyps or cysts on their ovaries, conditions that can cause women’s periods to change in color, appearance, and regularity. A woman’s body may be trying to have a normal period, but because of the cysts and polyps is unable to carry out the menstrual cycle as expected. Women who have cysts and polyps on their ovaries may need to undergo surgery or take medicine to try to shrink the size of the growths. Medications like oral birth control likewise can impact how well the body is able to continue with a woman’s menstrual cycle.