What Causes Dark Brown Colored Discharge Prior to Period?

In normal circumstances, the vaginal discharge that happens during periods is almost transparent and is mostly made up of cervical mucus. The red color of the discharge is due to the endometrial lining which is being shed. One of the most common concerns which menstruating women have is getting dark brown discharge before periods. It can be caused due to physiological reasons like ovulation, hormonal contraceptives or due to some disease. It is important to note that every dark brown discharge is not a cause of concern. Learn the details here.

Is Dark Brown Discharge Before Period Normal?

Before you get your first period you might get see dark brown discharge a few times. It might also be possible that the first period is dark brown in color. Here are other reasons why you have this condition:

1. Shedding of Old Lining

This discharge is mostly due to the presence of old endometrial tissue and it usually occurs when your periods are late. Blood which is old has a dark brown color. When this happens just before your periods, it is the body’s way of cleaning out the system. During a menstrual cycle, the body is eliminating various different types of waste, and this is a standard discharge. So if you find dark brown discharge before period, it’s simply the endometrial cells from the previous month, which were not properly eliminated from the body.

  1. 2. Implantation Spotting

  2. Implantation occurs when a fertilized embryo gets embedded in the uterine lining causing rupture of blood. Not every woman who conceives will experience this, however, this bleeding could be brown or pink and will be seen a couple of days before your periods are expected.
  3. 3. At the Time of Ovulation

  4. Sometimes a dark brown discharge before period occurs 14-16 days prior to the next cycle. If this is the case, it can be due to ovulation. During ovulation, a mature egg is released out of the ovary, which can cause spotting in some women. You can determine ovulation day, if you have a slight discharge accompanied with abdominal cramps around a fortnight from the day your periods started.
  5. 4. Stress 

  6. Stress can be caused by a lot of emotions, health conditions, substance abuse, and use of stimulants as well as alcohol. Malnutrition can cause disturbance in ovulation cycle as well. Stress hormones released from adrenal have a direct effect on the sex hormones, which regulate the menstrual cycle. Stress causes endometrial lining to thin down and delay periods. The blood oxidizes over time, making it brown in color and results in irregular periods or dark brown discharge before periods.
  7. 5.  Post Intercourse Discharge

  8. It is fairly common to experience a dark brown discharge post sexual intercourse, however, it is usually in small amount. Sometimes the bleeding will be of moderate or large amount. It can be caused due to various factors like – being pregnant, inflammation, irritation of the lining, tearing of the hymen, cervical polyps, or sexually transmitted illnesses.
  9. 6. Contraceptives Side Effects

  10. Taking birth control pills can cause dark brown discharge before periods as a side effect and is caused due to hormonal changes. The pills cause changes in the hormones which results in thinning of the lining, which sheds erratically and in small amounts. Missing birth control pills can also cause this as it directly affects the hormonal balance. When women take an emergency contraceptive pill, it can cause dark brown discharge the next day or in the following week. Intra-Uterine devices (IUDs) can also cause this as an unpleasant side effect. It can last for a few months and can be caused due to damage to the endometrial lining.
  11. 7. Menopause and Perimenopause

  12. Women in the age group of 45-50 undergo menopause and experience irregular periods, once every three-six months. They can experience dark brown spotting during this time. It is mainly caused due to the atrophy of the lining of the uterus, which makes it weak and causes to burst spontaneously. It is fairly common in peri-menopausal women as well. This discharge replaces regular periods and is accompanied by symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, depression, body ache etc.
  13. 8. Medical Conditions

    In majority of cases, when someone has dark brown discharge before period, it is not serious and can be treated by making lifestyle modifications and changes in the diet. However, there could be certain situations where it might be indication of a serious problem as explained below:



    Pregnancy related dark brown discharge

    A dark brown discharge during very early days of pregnancy is normal and is caused due to implantation. Some women might have some dark brown discharge throughout pregnancy, with no alarming reason, however, it should always be checked, since it can be due to some serious underlying condition. It can be caused if a woman has contracted STDs, genital HPV or has cervical sensitivity. An ectopic or molar pregnancy and even miscarriage can cause dark brown discharge.

    Dark brown discharge and polyps

    Polyps are finger like growths present in the mucosal cervical layer. They are very fragile, smooth, red or purple in color and can extend out of cervix. They bleed easily if touched while getting intimate. They can be removed easily, without pain. When there is overgrowth of endometrium it can result in uterine polyps. Women who have cervical or uterine polyps may experience dark brown discharge before periods frequently along with spotting and bleeding after menopause as well.

    Dark brown discharge and STDs

    When women have contracted any sexually transmitted diseases or a vaginal infection, it can cause a dark brown discharge before periods. Some of these diseases include gonorrhea, Chlamydia and genital warts. In such conditions, a woman will experience symptoms like burning sensation, pain, and decreased appetite, vomiting and even infertility.

    Cervical Dysplasia and dark brown discharge

    Cervical dysplasia is a condition where epithelial cells lining the cervix undergo precancerous changes. A woman is more susceptible to this condition when she has more than one sexual partner, has a history of STDs, has given birth before age of 16 or involved in sexual activities before being 18. A dark brown discharge is a common symptom of cervical dysplasia.

    Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) related dark brown discharge

    PID is when there is infection of the uterus lining, cervix, vagina, ovaries or fallopian tubes. It is a serious condition and can cause dark brown discharge. It is common in females with multiple sexual partners. Some other symptoms associated with this condition are painful intercourse, abdominal pain and pain during periods.

    Dark brown discharge & Cervical Cancer

    One of the most dangerous causes of having a dark brown discharge before periods, cancer of the cervix, is usually caused by HPV. It is spread during sexual contact with infected person. Having multiple partners, or having sexual intercourse at young age or a diminished immune system can put a person at risk of contracting it. More symptoms of cancer of the cervix are pelvic pain, fatigue, decreased appetite and unexpected weight loss.

    Dark brown discharge after hysterectomy

    Women who have undergone hysterectomy can experience dark brown discharge for many weeks after having the surgery. It is caused due to infection in the vagina due to bacteria or fungus, as the body’s immune system is weak after the surgery. The discharge can be pink in color with an odor and will change depending on the activity level of the woman. It is quite noticeable 2 weeks after the surgery. If there are blood clots being passed, a doctor should be informed. This discharge can also be caused due to HPV or UTI.