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Mid cycle brown discharge

Mid cycle brown discharge is common for many women. While nothing like this ever happens to most women, some women experience mid cycle brown discharge regularly every month. It can be considered as pretty reliable indicator of ovulation which can be used for successful pregnancy planning or unwanted pregnancy prevention. In most cases mid cycle brown discharge occurs in the middle of menstrual cycle – approximately during 14 – 16 days after the last menstruation in classical normal 28 day menstrual cycle.

Brown discharge triggered by other causes sometimes can coincide with ovulation days but it does not mean it is occurred because of ovulation. In most cases mid cycle brown discharge is a sign of ovulation and no any treatment is needed. At the same time, irregular brown discharge, which could appear at any day of menstrual cycle, could be a symptom of several diseases and it should be treated.

In general, in normal circumstances, brown discharge can be a result of old oxidized blood from previous period or from local limited ovulation bleeding or because of implantation bleeding. All other cases of brown discharge may be considered as a symptom of different disturbances (hormonal, bacterial, viral, etc.).

Mid cycle brown discharge characteristics

Mid cycle brown discharge

In most cases the mid cycle brown discharge can be considered as a typical sign of ovulation;

Mid cycle brown discharge occurs in the middle of menstrual cycle (during 13-14-15-16 days of cycle depending on cycle duration);

Duration of middle cycle brown discharge is always very short (from few hours to one-two days);

Volume of middle cycle brown discharge is limited (from few drops to light discharge);

Usually middle cycle brown discharge does not have any unpleasant smell;

Color or middle cycle discharge can be reddish or brownish or pinkish;

Sometimes middle cycle discharge can be accompanied by mild pelvic pain or cramping.

Mid cycle brown discharge causes


Ovulation bleeding is the most common cause of mid cycle brown discharge. It usually occurs in the middle of menstrual cycle. Different scientists explain ovulation bleeding causes differently. Some experts suggest the ovulation bleeding could be a result of temporary withdrawal of estrogen at ovulation period. This causes the endometrium (internal uterine lining) to shrink a little and cause bleeding which can be oxidized and appeared as brown discharge. Another group of scientists believe that middle cycle brown discharge may come from the cervical glands which are proliferated during estrogen phase of menstrual cycle. Few scientists suggest that brown discharge in the middle of cycle could come from the ovary at the time of ovulation.

Birth control pills

During use of birth control pills women could experience withdrawal brown discharge in the middle of menstrual cycle similar to ovulation spotting. It could happen due to the fact that the hormonal levels of many birth control pills imitate the fluctuations of the normal menstrual hormonal cycle. It means there may be the drop of estrogen levels in the middle of cycle causing withdrawal brown discharge (oxidized bleeding).

Birth control users often could experience middle cycle brown discharge during first few months after starting oral contraceptives or if the pills are not taken at the same time each day or if pills were missed.


Sometimes women could confuse ovulation spotting with signs of miscarriage (threatened abortion). In most cases it is happening not in the middle of menstrual cycle but close to expected menstrual period or during missed period.

During early pregnancy women also could have so called “implantation bleeding” which usually occurs few days before expected menstrual period or instead of menstruation. Usually implantation bleeding appears 6 – 12 days after conception, so it is very unlikely that it would happen in the middle of cycle.

Inrauterine devices

Intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) are more likely to cause irregular brown discharge throughout the menstrual cycle rather than a single episode of middle cycle bleeding. Ovulation estrogen decline combined with mechanical contacts of IUD with uterine lining could easily cause so called ovulation spotting (brown discharge) in the middle of menstrual cycle.

Hormonal dysfunctions

Any hormonal dysfunctions which could lead to estrogen rapid fluctuations of estrogen deficiency may cause irregular brown discharge which sometimes could coincide with middle of menstrual cycle. Following hormonal disturbances could cause brown discharge or brown spotting:

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS),
  • Thyroid dysfunctions,
  • Premature ovarian failure,
  • Endometriosis,
  • Diabetes,
  • Different types of amenorrhea.

Cervical abnormalities

Sometimes mid cycle brown discharge could be triggered by cervical abnormalities such as cervical polyps, cervicitis, vaginitis and cervical infections. In most cases it is happening because of damages cervical vessel.

Most dangerous cervical factor which could cause brown discharge is cervical cancer.

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