During menstruation, many women have various colours of discharge at different points within their cycles. During menopause, you no longer have a period, and therefore do not expect to bleed, or to have any type of discharge. To the surprise of many women going through menopause, they begin to experience light bleeding or brownish spotting. For the most part this is harmless, but in some cases it can point to a health problem.
What is brown discharge?
Brown discharge after menopause is actually a mix of blood and discharge called spotting. This blood can range in colour from pink to brown. It is not heavy like a period; rather, it is really light (sometimes just a few drops). Spotting brown during menopause can be a natural result of the changes in hormones, or it may signal a medical issue.
Perimenopause occurs two to eight years before menopause begins, and is usually marked by the occurrence of irregular periods. The menstrual cycle becomes lighter, heavier, sporadic or absent, due to the levels of the hormone estrogen decreasing in preparation for menopause. During this time, women often report spotting in-between cycles, among other signs of perimenopause such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, insomnia and pain during sex.
Uterine polyps are growths that occur on the endometrial wall, located within the uterus. These growths stem from the overgrowth of cells in the wall's lining. They can range in size from as small as a sesame seed to as large as a golf ball. They are more common in women in their 40s and 50s and can vary in number from one to several. Some people with uterine polyps have no symptoms, and others complain of irregular menstrual bleeding and bleeding after menopause.
Vaginal dryness is a very common issue for women going through menopause. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, four in 10 women complain of vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness occurs due to the decrease in estrogen. During sexual intercourse some women experience dryness, itching, stinging, burning, pain and light bleeding.
During menopause, the lack of estrogen can cause the uterine lining to thin, causing the blood vessels inside to become weak. When the blood vessels react in this way they are subject to bursting spontaneously, which is a phenomenon known as atrophy. Atrophy, more often than not, will result in spotting. As it takes a bit of time for this small amount of blood to reach the outside of the vagina from the uterus, it may appear to be dark pink in colour, or brown.