You will have around 500 periods in your lifetime; understandably, you grow to know what to expect each month. So when abnormal discharge, pain or different coloured blood rolls around, you might start to get concerned.
Period blood can come in many different colours
Your period blood may change colours and consistencies at times, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Periods are mostly red but can often be black, dark red, pink, orange, grey or brown. Each colour signifies something going on with your body. For example, grey and orange period blood can often be a sign of infection. Meanwhile, pink period blood can occur when the blood mixes with the cervical fluid and can even be a sign of early pregnancy.
When brown period blood is normal
Even the healthiest people can experience brown period blood. This type of blood tends to be older and more oxidised and can occur at the very start or end of a period.
Brown discharge or blood is particularly common with some types of birth control, such as implants and can occur both during and between periods.
Occasionally light, brown bleeding can happen around ovulation. This is most common in young people who have just started menstruation and those who are nearing menopause. However, if you don’t usually experience brown blood or bleeding between periods, it’s safest to book a consult with a medical professional.
When brown period blood is not normal
Changes in period blood can sometimes be a sign of a deeper issue, such as:
Often brown or pink blood between periods is actually spotting and can be a sign of early pregnancy.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Brown blood or discharge during menstruation can also be a symptom of PCOS. Keep an eye out for other signs such as:
- Abnormal hair growth
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain or obesity
- Patches of thickened or darkened skin
If you have brown period blood and exhibit any of these symptoms, it’s essential to get checked by a health professional. Undiagnosed PCOS can also make sufferers more prone to type two diabetes, infertility and heart disease.
Brown or abnormal discharge can also be a symptom of inflammatory conditions such as cervicitis, vaginitis and even cervical cancer. If you are past the age of 25, make sure you complete a cervical screening every three years and consider getting the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV).
Brown spotting is normal during early pregnancy and can be a result of implantation. However, it can also be a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Keep an eye out for other symptoms such as:
- Pain or cramping
- Shoulder pain
- Feeling dizzy or weak
- Not feeling your typical pregnancy symptoms
If you are experiencing any of these signs it is best to consult a doctor.
Most people reach menopause around the ages of 45-55. Leading up to that time, people may go through perimenopause, and it can be normal to experience brown period blood or discharge. Menopause will officially begin one year after you stop having your period. If you have any brown spotting or discharge afterwards, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor as it may be a sign of inflammation.
Brown period blood isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, if you notice any sudden or consistent changes in your menstrual cycle or you are bleeding during pregnancy, it is best to talk to a doctor or gynaecologist.