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What Does Brown Discharge Before Your Period Mean?

July 1, 2024

A menstruating woman's vagina goes through various stages throughout her menstrual cycle. If you follow your vaginal discharge closely, you can know a lot about your menstrual cycle as well as your fertility. Did you know some women have a brown discharge right before or after their period? Read on to know why and what it can indicate.

Book an online appointment with Dr. Lakshmi Kalbande for Pregnancy & Gynecology related issues.

Vaginal Discharge

First, let's understand what is a vaginal discharge and its different types.

A vaginal discharge is the fluid your vagina secretes from its tiny glands. These fluids help keep the vagina clean and healthy. The vagina can cleanse itself with its fluids. The vaginal discharge varies from woman to woman in terms of colour, the consistency as well as the amount of discharge. 

Let's break it down by the days of the menstrual cycle. 

  • Day 1 – 5 – These are the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle, meaning you are actively bleeding or going through your period. As your body sheds the uterine lining, your vaginal will be discharging bright red blood. The quantity will differ from woman to woman and from day to day.
  • Day 6 – 14 – The vaginal discharge slowly reduces around the fifth day of your period and continues to reduce further. The cervical mucus will slowly change in consistency and become sticky and cloudy white.
  • Day 14 – 25 – The vaginal discharge starts getting thinner and less sticky. It gets slippery as you get closer to your ovulation. This helps increase the sperm's chances of meeting the egg. After ovulation, the vaginal discharge will become sticky again and, for some, even slightly yellow.
  • Day 25 – 28 – The vaginal discharge will reduce again. For some women, it can be brownish.

What is Brown Discharge?

Now, what is brown discharge? Why does your vaginal discharge become brown before your period? 

Sometimes, small amounts of blood could be mixed in the vaginal discharge before your period, thus giving it a brown tinge. Once your period is over, some blood can be left over inside the vagina. When it is time for the next period to start, the vagina can begin cleaning itself out, leading to the brown discharge or brown-tinged discharge right before your period starts. 

Some of the common reasons vaginal discharge can be brown are:

  • Your uterus is shedding the old blood a few days after your period
  • Your period is just about to start
  • You are spotting just before your period or during your ovulation
  • Result of vigorous sex or sex when the vagina is dry
  • Implantation bleeding, indicating a possible pregnancy
  • Early miscarriage
  • Sign of perimenopause – the period before menopause
  • You had a pelvic exam recently

Sometimes, brown discharge before a period could indicate more serious issues like:

  • Bacterial Vaginosis – When the natural pH balance in your vagina is disturbed, it can lead to a greenish or greyish discharge, which can look brown after it dries up.
  • Vaginal Dryness – If your vagina is dry and the tissues are irritated, the usual discharge that mostly looks yellow in colour can become brown if the irritation also causes some bleeding.
  • PCOS – A hormonal imbalance that causes irregular periods
  • Other Growths – In the case of ovarian cysts (fluid-filled sacs) or polyps (small tissue growth in the uterus or cervix), the vagina can experience irritation and bleeding along with abdominal pain and discomfort.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease – This is a rare occurrence but a cervical infection can cause brown discharge along with other symptoms. 
  • STIs – STIs like Trichomoniasis can irritate the vagina, causing it to bleed. 
  • Presence of a foreign object – In case a tampon, a condom, a contraceptive ring, or an IUD that is left inside the vagina can lead to an infection and cause bleeding. 
  • Cervical cancer – This is one of the most serious and not common causes of brown vaginal discharge. Less than 1% of women have cervical cancer, so this is not a common reason for brown discharge. 

Also Read: Exploring Non-Surgical Vaginal Rejuvenation: Procedures

When Should You Worry About Your Brown Vaginal Discharge?

A brown discharge after your period or right before your period is very normal and nothing to worry about. You should consult your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms in addition to the brown discharge:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Heavier or longer periods than usual
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Pain in the pelvic region
  • Fever
  • Brown discharge continues for weeks
  • Discharge accompanied by vaginal itching
  • You have brown discharge and no period

Though these symptoms are quite common, if you experience them with a brown discharge, it could indicate a more serious issue than just old blood. If the symptoms intensify, you should consult a gynaecologist right away. 


Vaginal discharge is very natural, and the vagina's way of cleansing itself and keeping infections away. The discharge changes as your menstrual cycle progresses. While a brown discharge before the period is nothing to worry about, if you do notice other symptoms, you should not ignore them. 


1. Why am I having brown discharge before my period?

Brown discharge before your period could mean your body is getting rid of the old blood before the next period starts.

2. Why am I getting a brown discharge instead of my period?

If you are having a brown discharge and no period, it could be implantation bleeding or spotting, which means you could be pregnant. It could also indicate some infections or other issues that require immediate medical attention. 

3. Does brown spotting before the period count as the first day?

No, brown discharge could be some spotting before your period, but your period does not start until you start bleeding. If your period does not start even for more than a week after you start having the discharge, you should consult your gynaecologist.

4. Is it normal to have brown discharge 2 weeks after the period?

If you are on any medication or injured yourself, you could have a brown discharge days after your period. The brown discharge can also be due to hormonal changes or other underlying health conditions. If the brown discharge does not stop or is accompanied by other painful symptoms, it could indicate other issues that need immediate medical attention. 

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