Brown periods: what does this brown discharge mean?

Have you ever experienced brown blood loss during your period and wondered if this is normal? We answer all your questions and explain the possible causes of this color.

What causes brown periods?

Brown periods are caused by a perfectly natural phenomenon: oxidation. If blood is slow to flow, it comes into contact with air, which oxidizes the iron present in the discharge. The result? The blood becomes tinted, giving it a brown color that can be surprising if you're not used to it. So, if you're wondering whether brown discharge is really menstruation, the answer is "yes", it's just due to a change in menstrual color.

What causes brown periods?

There may be several causes for this change in period color. Let's take a look at the main ones.

First and last days of menstruation

At the beginning and end of the period, the flow is less abundant. As a result, the blood takes longer to flow out. It can then stagnate in the vagina, where it takes on a brown color due to oxidation. Light periods can also be brown, as they mix with vaginal discharge and become more brown than the bright red we're used to.

Onset of puberty or menopause

At these times, hormones can play tricks on our bodies. When the first periods arrive, they are rarely regular. As a result, flow can vary greatly, and in some cycles can be very sparse. Brown periods are not uncommon. During the menopause, hormone levels in the body fluctuate enormously, affecting menstruation. Menstrual periods are highly irregular, ranging from very heavy to very light. Hot flushes often accompany these flow variations.

Using the wrong contraceptive

Another factor that can play a role in causing brown blood loss during periods is poor contraception. Hormones are also released by contraception, and if used incorrectly, the levels may be too low or too high, disrupting menstruation. Forgetting to use contraception can have the same effect. Slight bleeding may occur, and the bleeding will take on a brownish hue.

Should I be concerned about brown discharge outside my period?

If you experience no other symptoms, there's no need to worry. Menstrual cycles can change over the course of a woman's life, and flows can vary. To protect yourself during these dark periods, use external protection. Our Elia panties are ideal for this situation.

Is brown discharge normal during pregnancy?

It can happen during the first three months of pregnancy. Brown periods can be caused by old blood that hasn't had time to drain. This is known as "anniversary bleeding". Any bleeding during pregnancy is, however, something to watch out for. It's best to talk to a doctor to get his or her opinion and to make sure everything's okay.

Are brown periods smelly or painful?

Normally not. Brown periods are supposed to be accompanied by the same symptoms as regular periods. Some pain may therefore be experienced, but it should be similar to that experienced during the rest of the cycle. These are caused by the contraction of the uterus to expel the blood present. Unpleasant odours are particularly important to watch out for, as they may indicate an infection such as a yeast infection. Generally speaking, if brown periods are associated with other symptoms, or if discharge occurs outside the menstrual cycle, it is advisable to consult a health professional.

Although they can be surprising, brown periods are normal. They are caused by oxidation of the blood, which changes color. However, if you notice any other symptoms, or if the discharge occurs outside your menstrual cycle, you should consult your doctor to make sure everything's okay.

Brown discharge FAQs

Is brown discharge a period?

Yes, at the beginning and end of the menstrual cycle, discharge is less abundant and may oxidize. It then takes on a brownish hue.

Why are my periods brown and light?

This is often the case at the beginning and end of your period. It can also happen when you start menstruating, or during the menopause.

When does brown discharge occur?

They can occur at various times. At the beginning and end of the period, when the flow is less abundant. The flow can also be lighter during the menopause. Unsuitable contraception may also be to blame.

Are brown periods a sign of pregnancy?

It's possible, yes. During the first three months, small amounts of bleeding may occur, known as "anniversary bleeding". This is not a cause for concern, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Are brown periods a sign of miscarriage?

Sometimes yes. A miscarriage generally manifests itself as blood loss. Depending on the extent of the flow, the blood may oxidize and turn brown instead of bright red.

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