Causes of brown spotting before a period

Written by christine lehman
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Causes of brown spotting before a period
(Tom Le Goff/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

During the course of the menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus builds up and becomes blood-filled. This is done in preparation for a fertilised egg. If no fertilised egg is present during a given month, the hormone levels drop and the lining of the uterus is shed. Normally this appears as fresh red or pink blood. However, it can occasionally appear as brown, which indicates it is old blood that has taken a while to come out of the uterus and through the cervix. Brown spotting can appear the day or two before a regular period. If no normal period appears on schedule or after a few days, a visit to a physician may be in order.

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Normal Spotting

During the course of the menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus builds up and becomes blood-filled. This is done in preparation for a fertilised egg. If no fertilised egg is present during a given month, the hormone levels drop and the lining of the uterus is shed. Normally this appears as fresh red or pink blood. However, it can occasionally appear as brown, which indicates it is old blood that has taken a while to come out of the uterus and through the cervix. Brown spotting can appear the day or two before a regular period. If no normal period appears on schedule or after a few days, a visit to a physician may be in order.

Disease or Trauma

Brown spotting can be a sign of trauma or disease and its appearance right before a period may be coincidental. If the cervix has been abraded during sexual intercourse, blood from the damage may be slight and take long enough to travel down the vaginal canal to turn brown. It can also be a sign of a hormone imbalance. The menstrual cycle is carefully balanced by a series of hormone ebbs and surges. Too little progesterone, for instance, can cause very light periods. While brown spotting before a period can be normal, if it stops before a normal period begins or if it occurs every month you should visit your gynecologist so she can rule out any serious conditions.

Implantation Bleeding

Brown spotting before a period may also be from something known as implantation bleeding. When a fertilised egg implants into the lining of the uterus, occasionally slight bleeding will accompany it. This blood will leave the cervix and exit the vaginal canal within a day or two and will be tinted brown. Because this occurs close to when a woman would normally begin her period, the presence of this blood can be confusing and many times considered the start of a period. A woman who has brown spotting but fails to have a full blown period and who may be pregnant should take a pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy. Either way, an appointment should be scheduled with a gynecologist.

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