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Brown Spotting in a Menstrual Cycle – Should You be Worried?

Brown Spotting in a Menstrual Cycle – Should You be Worried?

Women who experience brown spotting around their menstrual cycle often have questions or concerns. For instance: What causes brown spotting? Does brown spotting mean I have a fertility health issue or hormone problem?

Unfortunately, the answer is not always clear. Brown spotting can be a sign of hormonal imbalance, but it may be completely normal.

What is brown spotting?

Fresh blood is bright red. As the blood ages, it turns brown or brownish. Brown spotting is most often caused by older blood that is left over from a previous menstrual cycle. In this situation, it’s nothing to be concerned about. However, if chronic, it can signal hormonal changes or imbalance. Here are some of the causes of brown spotting to watch for:

  • Brown spotting that occurs after the cycle is usually the body’s natural attempt to clear out older blood from a previous cycle. It’s not uncommon for women to have 1-2 days of shedding brown or darker blood as menstruation ends. If it continues past 2 days, it may be a sign you need hormone balance support.
  • Brown spotting that occurs before the cycle may be normal from time to time. It can also be caused by hormonal changes that occur during perimenopause. Further, it could be a sign you need progesterone support, or of the body adjusting to a progesterone cream or prescription.
  • Brown spotting that occurs mid-cycle may be the result of ovulation, or cervical irritation. Some women experience brown spotting after intercourse, having a pap smear or gynecological exam. A small amount of brown, blackish or light pink spotting mid cycle could also be implantation bleeding if you’re trying to conceive.
  • Brown spotting that occurs in the absence of a regular menstruation is pretty common during pregnancy, and generally happens at the time you would normally be getting your period. Be sure to test for pregnancy before deciding on your next steps. Note: If you’re pregnant and experiencing brown spotting, stay in touch with your doctor. Most mild spotting in pregnancy is normal. However, if it continues, it could indicate miscarriage risk.
  • Chronic brown spotting or discharge at any point in the cycle may also be related to PCOS, an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen, beginning to support hormonal balance with natural therapies, or a change in contraceptives (IUD, the Pill, etc.). It can be a sign of poor uterine tone or circulation. It may also be related to ovarian cysts, infection or PID (pelvic inflammatory disease).

In rare cases, brown spotting can be caused by cervical cancer, although in this case, there are often other symptoms like pain or irregular bleeding. Having regular pap screenings is critical to rule out cervical cancer and its risk factors (HPV).

Natural Therapies Help the Body Normalize

Pay attention to your own body and its rhythms. If brown spotting or discharge seems to be occurring more often and you’re concerned about your fertility health, have a fertility hormone panel to rule out hormonal imbalance. If you’re concerned you may have an infection, schedule a visit with your Ob/GYN for a Pap smear and proper diagnosis.

If you suspect brown spotting is related to progesterone use, try to be patient. It may take a while for the body to adjust. Some women experience brown spotting regularly while on progesterone. In this case, it may be worth the inconvenience if your progesterone is chronically low, and you’re having trouble conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term.

For general support for balanced hormones and a healthy menstrual cycle, I suggest:

  • Starting with a Fertility Cleanse. Fertility cleansing is a great way to detoxify excess hormones and give the body a fresh start.
  • Herbs like Maca and Vitex, or FertiliCare Phase 1 & 2 Biphasic monthly program, which are known to help with menstrual irregularities. Gentle therapies like these encourage reproductive wellness and can target imbalances that cause chronic brown spotting.

Learn more:
Natural Guide for Menstrual Health
Menstrual Health Resources
Mid Cycle Spotting: Should You Be Concerned
Progesterone Fertility Q & A

Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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