What Are the Causes of Brown Spotting?

Updated July 20, 2017

Brown vaginal discharge, or brown spotting in between periods, is common and often nothing too serious. However, there are many instances in which brown spotting is of concern and should be addressed immediately. Calling your doctor or nurse to speak about symptoms is a good idea before getting too worried. Once you specify your symptoms, the cause can be determined and you can make an appointment once you have reached a conclusion.


Brown spotting is a symptom of endrometriosis. When endrometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, the misplaced tissue can hold blood that has nowhere to exit the body. The blood can stay within the tissues, becoming old and converting to a brown colour. Misplaced tissue may implant itself and grow anywhere within the abdominal cavity and the blood will irritate the tissue. The brown discharge is the old blood that was stored inside the misplaced tissue.

Ovarian Cysts

Brown spotting is one symptom of having an ovarian cyst. According to "A Gynecologist's Second Opinion" by William H. Parker, M.D., many cysts are harmless, but sometimes they cause pain, bleeding and rupturing. Many cysts look like bubbles and take care of themselves in just a few weeks. The bubbles will eventually rupture, and the fluid will release as brown blood.

Asherman's Syndrome

One symptom of Asherman's Syndrome is not having a period or having one infrequently, meaning old blood could get stored in the body and come out as brown spotting later. Obtaining Asherman's typically follows after having several dilation and curettage procedures, during which the physician scrapes and collects endrometrium tissue.


Pregnancy causes your uterus to expand, allowing old blood to exit the body. This is a common side effect in the beginning of pregnancy, especially for the first pregnancy. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if the bleeding does not subside, becomes red, or is heavy.

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About the Author

Nicole Goodnplenty began writing in 1999. She worked for her university's newspaper as a writer and copy editor, was published in "CHAOS Magazine" and currently works at a publishing company in Los Angeles. The Michigan Collegiate Press Association awarded Goodnplenty a Division II Best Sports Feature. She has a Bachelor of Arts in behavioral science from Saginaw Valley State University.