Normal vaginal discharge in a woman is generally colorless or whitish. When there is brown vaginal discharge then it may indicate the harmless expulsion of residual blood from menstrual cycles. However, if brown spotting is regular then patients must consult a doctor for correct diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms accompanying brown spotting
There are not very many symptoms that occur along with brown spotting.
There may be increased vaginal bleeding, itchiness around the vaginal region, or affected women may experience pain when passing urine.
All these symptoms may indicate the presence of a possible infection or some other underlying condition. It is therefore essential for patients to seek medical attention so as to prevent deterioration of the pre-existing condition or spread of infection.
Causes of brown spotting
Brown discharge may be caused due to varied reasons as listed below:
- There can be mild irritation of the vagina during sexual intercourse. Brown spotting after sex can signify that there was bleeding and it dried up before being removed from the body.
- Brown spotting after periods is quite harmless. It indicates the removal of old blood from the vagina, wherein the dead cells and tissues remaining post periods exit from the body.
- The presence of sexually transmitted diseases can also result in brown spotting. Such vaginal discharge may or may not occur along with pain and bad odor. Genital warts, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are the common infections which cause brown spotting.
- Brown vaginal discharge is also considered as one of the possible symptoms of cervical cancer.
- There may be mild bleeding along with a clear discharge during ovulation. Such blood can be brownish. Regular occurrence of brown spotting during ovulation is abnormal and needs medical attention.
Brown spotting before period
Brown spotting before periods can be caused due:
- Polyps, which are benign anomalous growths that form within the uterus or vagina. They bleed slowly leading to brown spotting.
- Endometriosis, which results in removal of endometrial tissue that were not eliminated during normal periods. It often occurs along with cramps, pain during sex or urination, heavy menstruation, and pelvic pain.
- Miscarriage that is often accompanied by lower backache, abdominal cramping, and discharge of tissue-like matter.
- Presence of pelvic inflammatory disease, STDs, and infections
- Vaginal trauma during sexual intercourse can result in minor bleeding. The elimination of such blood is very slow, thereby resulting in brown spotting
- Hormonal imbalances caused during perimenopause; or due to intake of contraceptive pills, or occurrence of stress or weight loss. The levels of two main female hormones, i.e., progesterone and estrogen are primarily affected.
- Implantation of the fetus into the uterine lining during early pregnancy
Harmless cases of brown spotting before periods can be treated via intake of lots of water and fluids, regular exercising, and a healthy diet. Polyps can be treated with medications or surgery. STDs and infections are treated with drug therapy. Change the brand of contraceptive pills, if that is the cause.
Brown spotting during pregnancy
Brown spotting during pregnancy may be caused due to:
- In most cases brown spotting during pregnancy usually occurs in the latter half of the first trimester. It occurs due to elimination of old blood remnants.
- Pregnancy results in increased blood supply to the vaginal area as well as elevated estrogen production. This can cause underlying cases of genital HPV infection to cause brown vaginal discharge.
- The cervix is increasingly sensitive and prone to tearing during pregnancy. Hence, there may be minor bleeding post sexual intercourse or a vaginal ultrasound, leading to brown spotting.
- Infections of the vagina or cervix. Additional symptoms include itchiness and burning sensations.
- Implantation of the fetus in the uterus
- Ectopic pregnancy, identified by implantation of the fertilized egg outside the uterus. It is a serious condition and requires immediate removal.
- Molar pregnancy, characterized by irregular growth of the embryo and presence of abnormal placental cells. It is also a medical emergency.
- A miscarriage can also result in brown spotting during pregnancy
It is important for all women to consult a doctor whenever they experience brown spotting during pregnancy. Self-treatment under the presumption of an underlying infection should be completely avoided. The doctor will conduct varied tests and treat the condition as per the underlying cause. Severe cases of bleeding, abdominal cramping or a miscarriage requires hospitalization. Pregnant women may wear panty liner if it is comfortable. They should also avoid douching or use of tampons as it can increase the risk to infections.
Brown spotting between period
Brown spotting in between periods may be caused due to:
- Implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine lining can cause bleeding and eventually brown spotting.
- The process of ovulation is often accompanied by minor bleeding which can lead to brown vaginal discharge
- Occurrence of hormonal changes due to increased stress, sudden change in body weight, and use of birth control pills can also result in brown spotting in between periods
- A new exercise regimen or the use of intrauterine devices for contraception can also increase the risk to brown spotting.
- Presence of sexually transmitted diseases, varied infections of the urinary tract, ovarian or cervical cancers, fibroids or cysts in the fallopian tubes or uterus, and pelvic inflammatory disease are serious causes of brown vaginal discharge between periods that require immediate medical attention.
Brown spotting between periods can have harmless or severe causes. Hence, all patients must visit a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Brown spotting instead of period
Brown spotting instead of periods may be caused due to:
- Pregnancy usually causes implantation bleeding, which results in brown spotting.
- A delayed menstrual cycle. The vagina is a self-cleansing system. A late period can result in incomplete cleansing of the system. Old blood along with other matter then gets removed from the body after the period. This can result in brown spotting instead of periods.
- Presence of different vaginal diseases and infections
Prevention of brown spotting
As discussed above, brown spotting may occur due to mild or serious causes. Harmless cases can be prevented by avoiding the use of tight underwear or scented soaps. Personal hygiene is also of utmost importance.