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Dark brown discharge instead of period

Sometimes women experience dark brown discharge instead of period. Why women could have dark brown discharge instead of period?

Dark brown discharge is a symptom of “old blood” and/or old uterine lining which did not left the uterus at right time (during regular menstrual period). Often the dark brown discharge is just remains of delayed period – most often associated with old endometrial tissues (remains of last period).

When women get late period or following period with old cellular lining actually removed together with other blood cellular material, they can experience the dark brown discharge instead of period. Brown discharge is normally just “old blood” that has been oxidized and left uterus and/or vagina late or later.

Sometimes dark brown discharge could be a symptom of the damages (by infection or other diseases) of endometrial cells; or a symptom of endometrial changes because of hormonal dysfunctions; or a symptom of pregnancy; etc., etc.

There are only few causes of dark brown discharge which should be considered as a serious – cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

Dark brown discharge instead of period could be a symptom of several health conditions and/or diseases:

Dark Brown discharge instead of period – implantation bleeding

Dark Brown discharge

Dark Brown discharge

Dark brown discharge instead of period could be early signal of pregnancy – so called “implantation bleeding”. After the fertilization occurs the fertilized egg or zygote travels down the Fallopian tube to the uterus – during this journey the cell division takes place and the zygote develops into an embryo. The embryo burrows into the uterine lining (so called “endometrium”) which results in dark brown discharge instead of period. You can easily tell implantation bleeding from a normal period, as it is far lighter than a normal period and does not last for more than a couple of days. Implantation bleeding occurs 6 to 12 days after fertilization. If you have been tracking your ovulation time, implantation bleeding should occur a week before your due period. This dark brown discharge instead of period could be an early signal/symptom of pregnancy.

Dark Brown discharge instead of period – late period

In many cases the dark brown discharge instead of period could happen during late periods – actually the female body expels “old” oxidized uterine lining as late menstrual flow. You may only get it for a couple of days after which you may have your normal period. Sometimes, you may get this discharge for a day or two, then nothing, followed by your normal period.

Dark Brown discharge instead of period – birth control pills

Birth control pills are most popular contraception pills used by girls and women in many countries. In many cases birth control pills are used not for contraception but also for treatment of acne, irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts, etc.

Birth control pills are synthetic forms of the hormones progesterone and estrogen taken by women to prevent pregnancy. These hormones (progesterone and estrogen) work to inhibit the body’s natural cyclical hormones to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy is prevented by a combination of factors. Birth control pills usually stop the body from releasing an egg from the ovary. The birth control pill prevents ovulation by maintaining more consistent hormone levels. Without a peak in estrogen, the ovary doesn’t get the signal to release an egg, which eliminates the possibility of fertilization and pregnancy. The hormones in the pills prevent pregnancy by suppressing your pituitary gland, which stops the development and release of the egg in the ovary (ovulation). They also change the cervical mucus to make it difficult for the sperm to find an egg. Birth control pills can also prevent pregnancy by making the lining of the womb inhospitable for implantation. The progestin component of pills helps to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg and changes the lining of the uterus.

As Birth Control Pills always suppress female hormones, they could be responsible for dark brown discharge instead of period (rare side effect – super-suppression by pills).

Dark Brown discharge instead of period – Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious infection in the upper genital tract which called female reproductive organs (uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries). PID can be sexually transmitted or naturally occurring. In most cases PID is caused by a type of bacteria, often the same type that is responsible for several sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. In some cases, PID develops from bacteria that have traveled through the vagina and the cervix by way of an intrauterine device (IUD.

PID can affect the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and/or the ovaries. It can lead to pelvic adhesion and scar tissue that develops between internal organs, causing ongoing pelvic pain and the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy. PID could be a reason of dark brown discharge instead of period, infertility (untreated cases). In fact, PID is currently the leading cause of female infertility. If left untreated, PID can also lead to chronic infection and chronic dark brown discharge instead of period.

Dark Brown discharge instead of period – perimenopause or menopause

Perimenopause is a naturally occurring transition period of women life which is happening before menopause – it is the time when your body begins its transition into menopause. Perimenopause is the stage of women’s reproductive life that begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogens. It usually starts in women’s 40s, but can start in women’s 30s.

Perimenopause is a transitional stage of 2-11 years before complete cessation of the menstrual period. Perimenopause develops when women’s reproductive system begins slowing down, resulting in decreased production of hormones (mainly estrogens and progesterone). Perimenopause is the interval in which women’s body makes a natural shift from regular menstrual cycles and regular monthly ovulations to irregular menstrual cycles, anovulation and natural permanent infertility.

In general, dark brown discharge instead of period is common symptom for starting perimenopause. In early perimenopause women could also experience menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disruption, vaginal dryness, and a lot of confusion. Perimenopause symptoms including dark brown discharge occur as estrogen levels continue to drop leading up to menopause.


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58 Comments

  1. I am 44 years old…. Having been told I am in peri menopause stage last year have had no periods for five months …until now…it is very light but a dark brown discharge which smells quite bad also no energy and very lethargic should I visit my doctor?

    • brown discharge during perimenopause need special attention – check details in – http://www.women-info.com/en/brown-discharge-perimenopause/

      • Hi. I’m 47 yrs old? About 4 years ago I experienced bad periods with lots of big blood clots lasting weeks..after 6 months I went to the hospital. All checked out fine except that I was very anemic. And was told I was perimenapasual Well after eating healthing and boosting up my iron I was feeling okay…my periods got normal and have been foe the last year.. They so last a bit long maybe 6 to 8 days..but as of today I have not had a period in 2 months and I have never missed a period. I’ve looked up menapause sythpoms and have breast lots of tenderness and. Lot of the other sythpoms . my concern is tonight I spotted dark brown clots only a few but I have bloating some cramping…should I be concerned anddoes this mean that I’ve went from perimenapasual to menapause? ?? Thank u

        • menopause is coming slowly – you could have missed periods and at certain moment periods will stop – you can do “menopause test” – check more in – http://www.women-info.com/en/perimenopause/

  2. Hai ihave toonow if what happed toome cos.
    last april i stop my pill.
    and ihave 2menstrasion in 1mont and may&june i been diley 2monts.
    and now ihave dark red spot
    but its just little??
    What is it??
    Plss help

    • if you had unprotected sex – it could be pregnancy;
      if you had always regular periods and now irregular – it means hormonal dysfunctions

  3. I am 14 years old and I’m experiencing dark brown discharge instead of my period. I’ve had my period for 3 years now, and I’m not sexually active. My period isn’t late or anything like that. I’ve had ovarian cyst before. My mom passed away from breast cancer. its very painful and itchy

  4. I am experiencing dark virginal discharge and also I haven’t menstruated since January this year.I don’t know what it is, can it be a healthy problem??? I know am not pregnant because am 18 and still a virgin
    please help me figuring this out via my email.I went to the doctor but they. gave me family planning pills saying it’s hormone imbalance but. they did not Even scan me

    • your doctor gave you correct treatment – birth control pills could regulate your menstrual cycle;
      but I agree some tests should be done before treatment – ultrasound scanning of your ovaries, some hormonal tests, etc.

  5. thanks very much for ur feedback.. one last question can this be premarital menopause? I read some where that it can be the case. I am scared that I might be infertile..tell me these are not. the signs

  6. thank you

  7. I’m 18yrs old and I have been experiencing light/dark brown discharge and I have no idea why. Instead of a period it’s discharge and I have went to the doctors and I’ve told them but they didn’t really give me an answer on what it could be.

    • possible causes – birth control pills, any other medication, underweight (BMI should be normal) – check in – http://www.women-info.com/en/bmi-body-mass-index/
      if above causes are not existing, you have hormonal problems – you need clever gynecologist with good hormonal labs

  8. I’m 17 years old and I haven’t started my period yet and I’m experiencing brown dischare and lower aabdominal pressure and back pain

    • you better visit a good gynecologist – sometimes menstrual blood could stay in the uterus and cannot come out for several reasons – better to check

  9. Im 19 and for the past 2 weeks ive been having the brown discharge.I havent gone to see a doctor cause Its been 2 months since my last menstrual cycle so i thought it might be that. should it on for this long?

    • it is not normal, irregular periods and brown discharge could be a signal for hormonal dysfunction

  10. Hello. I have been experiencing brown discharge at the beginning of my period…still experiencing cramps but I’m really nausea. Also I’m not on birth control and just had unprotected sex a week ago….if I take a pg test will it still show positive?

  11. I’m a young girl of 23yrs….I had my regular period on 20th of june which lasted for 5days….buh later saw a dark brown period on 3rd of july…Hope there is no problem pls?

  12. I have just got really nasty drown discharge like diarrhea. I was on birth control for 2 years and I stopped my shot on April is this bad need answers.

    • if you stop contraception in April, it could be your body adaptation/normalization/”cleaning” after hormonal suppression contraception

  13. Hi, I’m a little concerned. My periods have been regular since day one. Every 28 days and last from 5-7 days. Always normal. I had protected sex a few days before my period. When my period was supposed to start I had brown discharge for 2 days not heavy very light. Then a week before I was supposed to start my period I had this brown I guess blood again. It only lasted about 2-3 days. I had unprotected sex and never got my period at the time I was supposed to. I took a pregnancy test at the time I was supposed to start my period and it was negative. I’m 42 this is a new event in my life. I never had this happen before. Can someone tell me something?

  14. I am 10 weeks pregnant, I have this brown discharge a lot, it fills the vagina. I realized it since I need put some progesterone there every night. I get pregnant right after they took out the IUD, Is it possible that is why. The old blood or period never got chance to come.
    anyway, I am worried. They did urine infection test last week, there is no problem.
    Thanks for some advice.

  15. 24 years old. Was on depo shot for 3 years but stopped injections in February of this year. Took the pill for a month then stopped as my husband and I are trying to get pregnant. Had 2 perfectly normal (consistent red flow, moderate cramps, lasted 4-5 days each) periods right on time each month for 2 months following discontinuation of birth control. Was diagnosed in September of 2014 with early stage cervical cancer/moderate cervical dysplasia, however was just cleared in February with no major treatment taken just healthy lifestyle. Now for the last month or so have been experiencing no periods but rather dark brown discharge. Also had mouth ulcers a couple weeks ago that has since cleared up but mouth is still bothersome. Haven’t had ulcers since I was a teenager.I am also just EXTREMELY tired. No matter how much sleep I get I’m just not myself… Am I pregnant? I know it’s not likely because not enough time off of depo and home tests have all said negative. Is the cancer back? Please help!

  16. Hi I am 23 year old I have miscarriage last year December now I and my husband want baby we were trying last 2 month my last period 10/6/2015 but this month 6/7/2015 I have brown discharge which end after 3 days I take pregnancy test that was negative after one week I ask dr she told me for pregnancy test again that was also negative I have no period is that brown discharge my period is that normal I am in stress I don’t want again visit my dr plz tell me

  17. I am 43 years old and had my normal period for one full week, which then stopped for one day and came back but as dark gooey blood that has possibly been left behind? It has been doing this for over 1 week, It is not normal period blood and isn’t a constant flow. I have had trouble sleeping and been very tired. Could it be the start to the inevitable?

    • if it happened only once, it could be a reaction to stress, sickness, hard work, etc. – if you would have it again, it could be starting perimenopause – see more in – http://www.women-info.com/en/perimenopause/

  18. I’m 27yo and I started spotting on 7.24.2015 like of was the beginning of my period and then it’s just been a brown discharge since 7.27.2015. Yes I’m still having the discharge today 8.2.2015 and its been accompanied by mild discomfort in my lower abdominal area and sore breast. Should I go to the hospital?

  19. Hello,
    I am 20 yr old female. yesterday I noticed brown spotting that looked like my period. I was shocked because my period has never been 7 days early. I went on birth control 07/16/2015. They did not tell me how to take the pills and I started on Thursday instead of sunday. I forgot to take the pill on Saturday and immediatetly took 2 the next day.I have had unprotected sex ever since and my boyfriend has not been pulling out. I am not feeling none of the typical period symptoms that I get; nausea, lack of apetite, cramps, etc. Today is the second day and the dark red blood has turned to dark brown. Im not sure if this is implantation blood, my normal period or caused by my birth control.

  20. Hi,

    I’m also concerned about the dark brown spotting/discharge I am having right now. I’ve been having menses regularly for almost 2 years now since I am taking metformin due to my T2DM but changes happened since May. In May I had a flow for only 2 days (which usually 4-5 days) and then spots for the rest of the week. In June I did not have menses at all and just having dark brown spotting for 7 days now. I kept on checking through PTs thinking I’m pregnant but it always resulted to negative. I am really concerned as to what this is. Is this also related to the CIN1 result I had way back in January this year?

    • unfortunately diabetes and strong medicaments such as metformin could be a cause of any menstrual disturbances including amenorrhea (absence of periods) – I would recommend to use some natural remedies – http://www.women-info.com/en/natural-remedies-amenorrhea/

  21. My daughter is 11 yrs old. She started what I thought was her 1st period on Aug 3rd. She noticed some brown discharge. It’s been a little over 36 hrs & all she has is some staining & brown discharge/small clotting. I’ve never heard of this before. My older daughter was also 11 yrs old, but started w/a very heavy period right from the start. Both girls are on anxiety meds, so I was prepared for a heavy mess. She’s been fine, very minor cramping on the first full day, but nothing else. Is this a cause for concern?

    • brown discharge instead of normal period means her body is not fully ready – not enough hormones yet or not enough body weight – check her BMI in – http://www.women-info.com/en/normal-weight-body-mass-index/

      • Her body weight isn’t the issue, as she’s on the heavier side. Will she continue to have this often until her body decides it’s ready for a real period? How long should this last, a wk or so, much like if it were a regular period. She has an appointment with my ob/gyn for the end of the month, but I’d like to hope it won’t last that long. Thanks.

        • every body is different and hormones are also different; normally during 6-12 months cycles should be regular normal

  22. Hi, I’m 18 years old and my last period was very weird to me. I was sexually active on June 5,2015 (no protection) but he pulled out. then proceeded to have my period June 17th, which lasted for a week. The next month my period was 2 days early and it was light bleeding the first two days almost like specks of blood on my tampon only. Then the 3rd day (only once) my tampond was almost full of blood. But then light bleeding (barly soaking the tip of the tampon) two days after that. The blood was a light pink watery color. Then about two weeks after I noticed it felt like I was leaking something but it wasn’t my usual milky discharge, it was a water like discharge. Now, I am two days late and when I went to the bathroom thinking I was bleeding, when I wiped it was brown discharge. I took two pregnancy tests about 2 weeks ago. Both turned out negative. Also I have been doing a lot of traveling and have been subjected to different time zones. Does this sound like I am pregnant? Or does it sound like I am having hormonal changes?

  23. Hi I’m 35yo and I’m trying to convince my Last baby I got creamy dark brown blood instead of my perioday. That lasted 3 days it’s not coming out anymore but when I showered today I check inside with my finger and and a Lil came out. Its never happend to mme befor. Is that my period? I don’t have any symptoms and I don’t feelike stressed. Haven’t seen a Doc or doneven a PT.

  24. I am 39 years of age and on birth control pills. The last few months my period has been more like a thick dark brown discharge is this normal or should I be going to the doctor?

    • at 39 hormones are going down, in addition you are suppressing hormones with pills – so, it is pills’ side effect

  25. I am 33 with 2 kids. Im on the pill and have been for 2 years. The last 2 months ive had my period for only 1 day and its been dark brown. Im yet to see a doc but I am concerned

    • pills suppress your hormones and reduce endometrial development – it is pills’ side effect – you can change your contraception method or change pills

  26. Hello Dr,

    I recently had a miscarriage and did an evacuation on 23rd July. 2 weeks after, I noticed a brown discharge which lasted about 5-6 days. I went to see a doctor who recommended some tests : HVS,PT and Urine analysis. The results were as follows
    HVS-: No significant growth isolated after 24hrs; Urine: Moderate growth of Staph.spp isolated after 24hrs incubation at 37c and PT- positive. Please what do these mean? I’m a bit concerned as I am not due to see the doctor until next week.
    (I was sexually after the miscarriage..)

    Thank you.

  27. 29, 2 kiddos. Had my tubes cut and burned during my second c-secrion back in 2012. Had EXTREMELY irregular cycles (In 2014 I only had 4 cycles) so back in March I was put on depo pills to jump start my cycles since it had been over 6 months since my last cycle. My period was fairly regular until last month. Had brown spotting for about 4 days or so and now I have it again this month and I’m on day 3 of it. I quit taking the depo pills when I got my cycle back in March BC the side effects of those things were NOT fun. Any advice?

    • you need a good gynecologist who can check your hormones, understand why you are irregular and prescribe correct treatment

  28. hi am experiencing dark brown instead of menses and some short cramps i used emergency pills before 48hours after unprotected sex what could be wrong

    • side effect of emergency contraception

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