The Cause Behind Brown Discharge Before a Period

When you see brown discharge, you may feel distressed. But no worries, brown discharge is usually harmless and there are many reasons why it may happen in the first place. Sometimes brown discharge can be an indication of pregnancy or perimenopause. Very rarely is brown discharge an indication of an underlying health condition.

Below we will look at the various causes for brown discharge and when it is time to see a doctor.

What is Brown Discharge?

Women have vaginal discharge on a relatively normal basis. Usually, vaginal discharge is thin and clear or white in color. When the vaginal discharge is brown it indicates that there is a small amount of old blood. If there is blood still in the uterus and it takes a longer time to come out, it may be brown.

Non-Pregnant Women

If you have brown discharge while you are not pregnant you may be experiencing the start of your period just at a lighter flow or ovulation spotting. You may also be having a reaction to a Pap smear test or a reaction to having sex.

Pregnant Women

If you happen to be pregnant, pink or brown discharge is sometimes an early sign of pregnancy. Not every pregnant woman will experience this symptom, but it does occur in a few women. The discharge occurs due to implantation bleeding. The bleeding may occur one to two weeks after the egg has been fertilized. Brown discharge during your pregnancy isn’t anything to be concerned over, but if the discharge is a dark brown, be sure to speak with a doctor.

Approaching Menopause

For women who are approaching their 40s or 50s and experiencing brown discharge before their period, it may be a sign of perimenopause. Perimenopause is a transition period that happens before menopause begins. Along with brown discharge, women may be experiencing mood swings, hot flushes, night sweats, a hard time sleeping, and vaginal dryness.

Serious Causes of Brown Discharge

There are a few other more serious causes of brown discharge and can occur at any age and will be accompanied by other symptoms. Pelvic inflammatory disease, a sexually transmitted disease, a retained foreign body (tampons, condoms, vaginal contraceptive sponges, diaphragms, etc.), polycystic ovary syndrome, and cervical cancer.

When to See a Doctor

As mentioned before, brown discharge isn’t something you usually have to worry about. Although it can be a symptom of something more serious, it won’t require you to go to the doctor. However, if you are experiencing brown discharge that continues for several weeks, happens after sex, smells bad, is accompanied by pain, cramping, or vaginal itching.

What Is Amenorrhea?

A woman’s menstrual cycle is stressful enough without complications. However, there are many factors that can interrupt or change a regular cycle. Here’s what you need to know about what amenorrhea is, how it’s caused, and its treatments. The more knowledge you have about its causes, symptoms, and treatments, the more prepared you’ll be if it happens to you. 

Put simply, amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual bleeding in a woman who is of reproductive age. There are two different types of this condition, primary and secondary amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhea occurs when girls over age 15 have never had their period. Secondary amenorrhea occurs when a woman who previously had regular periods does not menstruate for over six months. 

Causes and Risk Factors

There are a variety of factors than can contribute to the onset of this condition, including:

  • Obesity
  • Less than 17% body fat
  • Leptin deficiencies
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Overactive thyroid glands
  • Extreme emotional distress
  • Excessive exercise
  • The use of some contraceptives
  • The use of some medications
  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatments
  • Scar tissue in the uterus
  • Genetic defects

Symptoms of Amenorrhea

While the main symptom is the lack of a period, there are other factors that can occur. If you think you may have this condition, consult with a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. The following symptoms may occur due to amenorrhea:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Changes in breast size
  • Milky discharge from breasts
  • Acne
  • Hair loss
  • Increase in facial hair growth
  • Headaches and vision changes
  • Pelvic pain

Diagnosis and Treatment

Consulting a doctor should always be the first step whenever you feel you have a condition or illness. Be open and honest about your symptoms so they can properly determine the condition, cause, and then prescribe a treatment plan. Doctors and medical professionals will typically perform tests to check hormone levels or genetic markers and may perform pelvic ultrasounds, MRIs, or a CT scan. 

Treatment will depend entirely upon the root cause of amenorrhea, but may include medication, surgery, lifestyle changes, or a combination of several. Taking steps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight may be a suggestion if obesity or low body fat is a cause. Medical treatments could include a change in birth control, estrogen replacement therapy, or removal of scar tissue.

What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

The female body is beautiful and extremely complex. Pregnancy can be very tricky and come with many complications. There are also rare and complicated pregnancies every woman should be aware of. Although many women have heard of an ectopic pregnancy, not many of them understand what it is exactly. It’s important for every woman to know and understand what it is, how common it is, and what it does to the body:

What Is It?

Common pregnancies carry the fetus in the uterus. When a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg attaches itself to a place other than inside the uterus. Most of the time an ectopic pregnancy will involve a fertilized egg found in the fallopian tubes. Since the fallopian tubes are not designed to carry out a pregnancy, it can not develop properly and must be removed as soon as possible.

 

What Causes This?

A fertilized egg attaching to anywhere but a uterus sounds bizarre, which is why many women want to understand why this happens and what causes it. There are many causes that can lead to ectopic pregnancy. An infection or inflammation in the fallopian tube can cause it to become partially or entirely blocked, leading to an ectopic pregnancy. Other causes include scar tissue from a previous infection or a surgical procedure on the tubes or pelvic area and abnormal growths or a birth defect can result in an abnormality in the tube’s shape.

 

What are the Symptoms?

There are some symptoms an ectopic pregnancy shares with a normal uterine pregnancy, such as nausea and breast soreness. Symptoms that differ from a uterine pregnancy are sharp waves of pain in the abdomen, pelvis, shoulder, or neck and light to heavy vaginal spotting or bleeding. Other symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include dizziness or fainting and rectal pressure. If a woman experiences any or all of these symptoms, they must seek medical attention immediately. 

 

What are the Risks?

There are certain factors that can put a woman at risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. If a woman is between the ages of 35-44 while trying to conceive, her risk is much greater. If a woman has had an ectopic pregnancy before, several abortions, or is a smoker, she is also at great risk. Women with Endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) have a greater potential of having an ectopic pregnancy as well.

What is Postpartum Depression

Childbirth can be an emotional experience for new parents. As you settle in with your bundle of joy, you might encounter something unexpected – depression. Postpartum depression is often left undiscussed but affects many parents. What separates this from postpartum “baby blues”? Sometimes a rare but more severe condition called postpartum psychosis can develop. 

Defining Postpartum Depression

By definition by the National Institute of Mental Health, postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women and birthing parents after childbirth. New parents often experience “baby blues” after childbirth, where they might experience mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. The symptoms of postpartum depression may be similar but tend to be more severe and last longer, sometimes interfering with your ability to care for your baby and complete other daily tasks.  

Symptoms

Parents can experience depressed mood or severe mood swings, excessive crying, and difficulty bonding with their baby. Other common symptoms include changes in appetite, social withdrawal, and sleep disturbances. Symptoms will usually begin within the first few weeks after giving birth but may begin earlier (during pregnancy) or later, up to a year after birth. More severe symptoms may occur, such as thoughts of harming oneself or the baby, and these require serious and immediate attention. 

Causes

Physical changes and emotional issues play a role in postpartum depression, but there is no single cause for the condition. Hormonal changes after childbirth, such as dramatic drops in levels of progesterone and estrogen, may contribute to postpartum depression. Your risk of developing postpartum depression may increase if you have a history of depression or other mood disorders.

Treatments

Fortunately, postpartum depression is treatable.Treatment and recovery time will vary depending on your individual needs and the severity of the depression. Your medical provider will work on treating the underlying causes and may refer you to a mental health professional. Generally, treatment for depression includes psychotherapy, medication, or both. It is important to continue treatment even after you begin to feel better, as stopping treatment too early may lead to relapse.  Left untreated, postpartum depression can last for many months or longer. 

What is Endometriosis?

Reproductive health must be taken very seriously, which is why women should understand what endometriosis is. It is often a painful disorder inside of the uterus and involves the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and tissue lining the pelvis. and can go undiagnosed for years. Unfortunately, it can lead to infertility.

Defining Endometriosis

Endometriosis is when tissue that makes up the uterine lining is present on other organs inside your body. It usually appears to happen within the pelvis and lower abdomen, but it can happen anywhere in the body. Although men can be affected by the disorder, it is extremely rare and most common in women. 

The Symptoms

Women can experience pain during intercourse, painful periods, lower abdomen pain, and infertility. Over time, unfortunately, pain can increase and become more intense. Some may also experience painful bowel movements and heavy menstruation. Other symptoms can range from bloating, nausea, constipation, fatigue, and diarrhea, especially during their periods. The more severe the pain usually indicates how severe the disorder is. Pain can be the most painful symptom, but some women do not experience any symptoms. 

Due to these symptoms, endometriosis can be often misdiagnosed. It can often be diagnosed as a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. Endometriosis also shares the same symptoms as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can complicate the diagnosis.

Causes

Unfortunately, the exact causes of endometriosis are unknown, but there are possible explanations. The most common possible explanation is retrograde menstruation, which is menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flowing back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of leaving the body. The disorder can also be caused by surgical scar implantation, which happens after surgery, such as a hysterectomy or C-section, endometrial cells may attach to a surgical incision.

Other causes can range from transformation of peritoneal cells, embryonic cell transformation, endometrial cell transport, and an immune system disorder. Each one of these possible causes is ways that endometrial cells or tissue can invade other tissue of the body. 

Treatment

There are a few treatment options for women diagnosed with endometriosis. Many can treat their pain with medications, such as ibuprofen. Some doctors choose medications that can affect a woman’s hormones, such as contraceptive pills, to help with the pain. The best way to treat endometriosis is through surgery. Surgery can remove the endometriosis, burn the endometriosis lesions outside of the uterus, and remove scar tissue. Fortunately, women who use surgery to treat endometriosis often see improvement pain symptoms and may also help them become pregnant.

Constantly Evolving: How the Female Body Changes During Pregnancy

Pregnancy delivers a host of changes to a woman’s body. Some are visible and commonly expected, such as weight gain and an expanding belly; others are less well-known, such as increasing breast size. Some changes are well-known but invisible, such as backaches, morning sickness, and an enlarged uterus. Awareness of the changes, both visible and invisible, can help you prepare for your body’s adjustments during pregnancy.

Oral Health

A common pregnancy complaint is bleeding gums, which can open a portal to oral infections. With the immune system tamping down, it is vital to practice good oral hygiene. This will prevent the gums becoming inflamed, or gingivitis. While some women are nervous about visiting the dentist while they are pregnant, it is safe to receive dental X-rays with the caveat that the belly must be shielded properly from radiation.

Nails and Hair

Hair and nails tend to grow faster during pregnancy. An increase in estrogen creates an increase in the hair follicles’ growing phase, often creating a result of healthier and thicker hair. Hair may also increase in less desired places, such as the stomach, upper lip, nipples, and back. This excess hair is shed after giving birth. Nails tend to become more coarse in texture, causing them to become more soft and brittle. This can lead to nails splitting more easily. Like hair, the nails have a tendency to grow faster during pregnancy.

Skin

Three main skin changes are possible during pregnancy: stretch marks, a rosy complexion, and pigment changes known as chloasma or melasma. Stretch marks tend to itch and are purplish, pinkish lines that are particularly prone to appear on the breasts, posterior, thighs, and abdomen. The rosy complexion, or pregnancy glow, may appear due to the skin receiving an increase in blood circulation. Pigment changes, or pregnancy’s mask, are another common occurrence due to melanin increasing.

Heartburn

During pregnancy, the muscles that are used to break down food grow more relaxed. Changes in hormones also contribute to slowing down this process. Further, food remains in the stomach for a longer duration to allow the body more time for absorption of nutrients. Each or all of these factors can be the cause of heartburn or make it worse.

Constantly Evolving: Weight Gain During Menopause

Women between the ages of 40 and 50 will begin to exhibit changes in their body as it prepares to end their menstrual cycles. Menopause is the time in a woman’s life where they cease menstruation and the ability to reproduce. It is diagnosed officially once a woman has gone 12 months without her period. Just as hormones brought on menstruation, a shift in hormones brings it to an end.

Symptoms of menopause may include: hot flashes and chills, mood changes, weight gain, thinning hair and dry skin, vaginal dryness, and problems with sleep. During this hormonal shift, the body experiences many changes.

Menopause and Weight Gain

When a female begins to go through menopause, it’s not uncommon for them to gain weight. Some believe that the weight is caused by hormonal shifts that mess with metabolism, but this is not the case. Hormonal therapy is almost always given to help balance moods and other unpleasant symptoms, and these supplements also get blamed for middle-aged women being overweight. However, science finds no evidence of any such connections.

As a person begins to age, their metabolism naturally slows. People in their 20’s have an easier time losing weight than that of a person in their 40’s. The fat that has accumulated for many years is very stubborn, and with a body mass decrease, the fat is nearly impossible to lose. To fight the battle of the bulge takes physical activity, but this is the point when most women are ready to settle down and avoid rigorous exercise routines.

A woman in her 40’s or 50’s isn’t typically as physically active as she was in her younger years. With this reduced activity comes a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in weight. However, there may be more to worry about than just a few extra pounds.

While menopause cannot be associated with weight gain, it can be related to a change in the way the body distributes fat. Thus, it affects body composition. Many women change from a pear-shaped body to that of an apple like shape with age. Additional studies are needed to find out exactly how menopause affects body composition. The problem is that most women are overweight by the time they reach this point in their life.

Carrying additional weight around puts a woman at an increased risk for hypertension, osteoarthritis, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, her compromised health can cause issues with mobility, self-image, and many other factors. It’s imperative to stay active to be healthy at all ages, but it’s especially important during menopause. A sedentary lifestyle creates too many risks that are not worth taking. Physical Activity is a must

The RESPECT Model

Visiting a new doctor for the first time can be an anxiety-ridden experience for anyone. Not only are you likely meeting a new person, but you’re also confiding in that person with a very personal matter: your health.

 

A recent survey from this summer found that nearly 40% of women indicated they felt at least “somewhat concerned” prior to their first OB-GYN visit. Because of this number, physicians are working harder than ever to establish an open and trusting relationship with their patients. The RESPECT model is helping to do just that, in OB/GYN offices and beyond:

 

R—Rapport. Building rapport with the patient allows her to connect with you on a social level, not just as another appointment to check off. It strengthens your relationship as a rapport helps you see from her perspective and refrain from making assumptions.

 

E—Empathy. This may be harder said than done at times, but remembering that the patient needs help, and is here to be helped by you will keep you in a compassionate state of mind.

 

S—Support. As a physician, it’s your job to help patients and any obstacles they bring with them. You’re part of their team, and team members support one another.

 

P—Partnership. You’re working as a team to fix any given issue, and for that to work, the patient must have an equal say and solid understanding. This also means negotiating roles on occasion, and being flexible when it comes to a matter of control.

 

E—Explanations. Of course, as a physician, you must explain new concepts to patients in ways that make sense to them. What might make sense to the doctor after years of medical school, residency, and a long career likely will need to be broken down for someone not as knowledgeable in the field.

 

C—Cultural Competence. These days, many patients and physicians come from different backgrounds. They have different life experiences. To work well together, they must be able to respect their differences, and adjusting a style of care to allow for them.


T—Trust. This also happens when the physician and patient come from different backgrounds. There needs to be a trust in place for the doctor to effectively treat the patient, but that trust is not always just given. Often, it must be earned, and taking the time to actively work to establish that trust is the only way to achieve it.

5 Other Reasons to Visit Your OB-GYN

A trusted OB-GYN is a critical part of any woman’s professional health team, whether or not you intend to have children. An OB-GYN makes sure your vagina is healthy and your reproductive system is in good working order. But, did you know that you can go to your OB-GYN for more than just those two things?

 

Screening for Breast Cancer

Think of your OB-GYN as the first line of defense in detecting breast and colon cancers. If your annual appointment includes a breast exam, your obstetrician should be the first to notice any strange growths or changes in your breasts. OB-GYNs can also do rectal exams.

 

Treating Depression

Though OB-GYNs are not psychiatrists, they’re still trained to screen for and evaluate mood disorders. Depending on the case, your doctor could start you on medication or refer you to psychiatrist. Because of your emotional connection with your OB-GYN, especially if they treated you through a pregnancy, they are a safe person to confide in and share your concerns with. If you’re pregnant, your doctor will also be knowledgeable on how the medication will impact both you and the baby, as well.

 

Skin Checks

Of course, while a dermatologist is trained to look for signs of skin cancer, your OB-GYN can still perform skin checks. And given how most people have between ten to forty moles, it’s not a bad idea to get a skin check during your annual visit. In the event they notice any suspicious growths, they can alert you early on and get you into the office of a dermatologist to take a closer look.

 

Family Planning

Unsurprisingly, as they have many pregnant patients, OB-GYNs are great resources in terms of family planning. Whether that means you discuss certain genetic conditions you could pass on or figuring out how to have “the talk” with your daughters, your OB-GYN can help address your fears and provide you with the most current information.

 

Bone and Joint Issues

Millions of women across the country develop osteoarthritis, which can be a devastating joint problem, and it can happen a good way away from the beginning of menopause. By measuring and recording your height yearly, your OB-GYN can catch signs like losing height. They can also perform bone scans to keep an eye on your mineral levels. If they can catch the development early on, you’ll be much better off.

Top 4 Pregnancy Podcasts

Being pregnant is an exciting time for expectant parents, but it can also be a lot of new information and uncertainty, especially when it’s the first child. Parents often turn to books for what to expect, but if you’ve tried all of them and still want to know more, try a podcast! There are entire series dedicated to the topic of pregnancy, parenthood, and everything in between, and you can even listen to them while you’re work or in the car.

 

If you’re new to podcasts but looking to try one out, consider one of these:

 

Birthful

Although the host Adriana Lozada isn’t a doctor, her guests come from various medical backgrounds, and they cover a wide range of subjects, drawing on their professional knowledge as well as their own personal experiences. The topics include not just pregnancy, but also the birthing process, breastfeeding, postpartum, and parenting, and each episode is meant to provide tips and tools that new parents can utilize and fit to their own lifestyles. As a birth doula and mother, Adriana’s tone is conversational and knowledgeable, and offers many different perspectives that anyone can enjoy.

 

Pregnancy Confidential

At only thirty-two podcasts, each one between ten and twenty minutes, Pregnancy Confidential is an easy way to learn about the physical, emotional, and lifestyle markers of that week of pregnancy. From the editors of Parents, Fit Pregnancy, and Baby magazines, this podcast feels more like a conversation among friends that slip right into your day.

 

Not By Accident

Not By Accident is hosted by Sophie Harper, and in each episode, she talks about what it’s like to be a single mother by choice. This may ring true for parents in similar situations, but it’s also a great podcast for anyone who loves storytelling in general to take a listen to. There are only thirty-four episodes so far, and each one is honest and poignant.

 

Rockstar Birth Radio

Shalome Stone is seeking to reframe the narrative of being pregnant, and take it from something scary to enriching and inspiring, and she uses her podcast Rockstar Birth Radio to do it. Instead of pain and fear, Shalome Stone wants each mother to embrace the experience and find joy in the process of growing a baby. It’s empowering and uplifting, with wisdom from experienced mothers, as well as the stories of the births of their children. There is information about almost any kind of birth experience you can imagine, and provides a community that expectant mothers can truly find a place with.