Perimenopause, or menopause transition phase, is the time around menopause. Your body is eventually undergoing changes, and you are entering into the menopause phase. It mainly starts around 8-10 years before menopause. Most women go through perimenopause at 40-44 years. However, there are exceptions, and it could occur when a woman is in her 30s or 50s.
In perimenopause, the body goes through several changes due to fluctuation and reduced hormonal levels. You could experience symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, etc. Your menstrual cycle also undergoes a sea change. It could be long or short; you might skip your periods for some months. Teamed with this will be brown discharge or brown blood. The first instance of a brown discharge right before your period or a day or two after it has ended might have been scary. Right? Let us learn the different reasons for brown discharge in perimenopause. We will also learn the solutions for it.
What Changes Does Your Menstrual Cycle Go Through In Perimenopause?
With the fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone, the menstrual cycle is immensely affected in the menopause transition period. Ovulation is unpredictable, and the length between your cycles could be shorter or longer.
You could even go without periods for some months. Early perimenopause has started if your menstrual cycle is preponed or postponed by seven days. When there is a 2-month gap between your periods, it means you are in late perimenopause.
What is the Normal Color for Vaginal Discharge? How Does it Change in Perimenopause?
Vaginal discharge isn’t uncommon for women. You could experience a clear, white fluid secreted from your vagina. It helps in lubricating the vagina and fighting off bacteria alongside other infections. However, the texture, color, and odor of vaginal discharge help to determine if it is normal or if there is a sign of infection. If there aren’t any signs of infection, and if you aren’t in the perimenopause phase, the vaginal discharge mostly appears:
- Watery, sticky, or gooey
- Milky-white, off-white or clear
- Mucus-like discharge
- Mild but not foul or fishy odor
However, when you are in your 40s and nearing menopause, you could find a change in the vaginal discharge’s color and texture.
- Watery or thin
- Clumpy or thick
7 Causes for Brown Discharge in Perimenopause
Most of the symptoms women experience in perimenopause are because of the fluctuating hormone levels. The brown discharge isn’t an exception. Estrogen and progesterone are functional in controlling the amount of vaginal discharge.
The function of estrogen is primarily to ensure that the vagina is secreting a clear and normal discharge. In this way, it contributes to sound urethra and vulva health. Let’s look at the reasons why you could have brown discharge when around menopause:
Fluctuating Estrogen Levels
Brown vaginal discharge means that it is the old blood that has taken time to leave the uterus. To explain it in detail, when there is a fluctuation and drop in the estrogen levels, there is a breakage in the uterine lining. The blood remains in the uterus for a while and isn’t expelled. This causes it to become old and turn brown, resulting in brown blood and discharge.
Other Reasons for Brown Discharge
Perimenopause isn’t the only reason for brown discharge. There could be severe health issues as well. You must watch out for other symptoms if you are in your 40s and constantly have brown discharge before or after your periods.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
PID, or pelvic inflammatory disease, occurs due to an infection of the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tube. If you are experiencing this condition, you may have a brown discharge. There are other symptoms also mentioned below:
- Pain in the pelvic and lower abdomen area
- Pain during sex
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Burning sensation during urination
- Painful periods
- Heavy periods
Desquamative Inflammatory Vaginitis
This condition is a kind of vaginal inflammation, though unrelated to infection. It will affect you when the cells lining the vagina become inflamed, irritated, and red. The inflammation can lead to increased vaginal itching and discharge. Here are some of the signs you may experience when you have this condition:
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Yellowish-green or brown vaginal discharge
- Burning or itching sensation in the vulva or vagina
- Redness in the vulva area
- Pain and bleeding during or after sex
Sexually Transmitted Infection
When you have contracted a sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia or gonorrhea, you will likely have brown discharge alongside other symptoms. These include:
- Smelly discharge
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Painful sex
So when you are sexually active and have brownish discharge, getting tested for STI is better.
Foreign Body in the Vagina
If there is a foreign body stuck in the vagina, like condoms, tampons, or contraceptive rings, then you could experience brown discharge with a foul odor.
In the most unlikely situation, the brown discharge could be because of cervical cancer. That’s not the only sign, though. If you are experiencing an increased brown discharge alongside the symptoms mentioned below, you need to contact your healthcare provider immediately.
- Pain and bleeding during or after sex
- Longer or heavier periods
- Bleeding between periods
- Pelvic pain
- Smelly discharge
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
If you have PCOS, the body produces increased androgen hormones. In such cases, you will likely have brown discharge between your periods. In fact, there could be a gap of approximately 35 days between your menses in PCOS. Other signs include:
- Stopped, irregular, or heavy periods
- Excessive hair on your body or face
- Oily skin
- Pelvic pain
- Dark or discolored skin
- Having difficulties in conceiving
Solutions for Brown Discharge in Perimenopause
When the brown vaginal discharge is because of perimenopause, you cannot do much to avoid it. It’s all because of the fluctuating hormones. However, there are things to do from your end to relieve yourself from the discomfort.
- Harsh soaps could irritate the vagina or vulva, increasing your discomfort. So, you must clean the vaginal area regularly with warm water and medicated or doctor-approved non-soap cleansers.
- Go for cotton underwear instead of the synthetic ones. This is because they are breathable and can absorb the moisture better from the discharge or sweat, leading to minimum irritation.
- Avoid hot baths when you have vaginal discharge, as it could disrupt the pH levels of the vagina and intensify the dryness, itching, and inflammation. You should also stay away from scented bathing products.
- Do not douch, as that could disrupt the natural bacterial and fungal balance of your vagina, triggering an infection.
If brown discharge is a recurring problem, do not delay contacting the doctor.
If the discharge is due to fluctuating hormone levels, then in most cases, it doesn’t need treatment. However, if you have experienced brown discharge for many weeks or if a foul smell accompanies it, then medical help is required. Also, a doctor’s consultation is necessary if there is cramping, pain, burning sensation, or vaginal itching along with the discharge.
Upon knowing your symptoms, the doctor will conduct a pelvic examination. They may even check your vagina for any swelling or redness. If needed, he may even send a sample of the vaginal discharge to the laboratory for further testing.
The pH level may be checked, and the discharge may even be tested with a microscope to check the growth of yeast or bacteria. On the basis of the results, your healthcare provider will decide whether treatment is needed.
If the brown discharge is because of menopause, it will lessen by the time you reach the later half of perimenopause. Moreover, by menopause, it will subside eventually. However, if you have any other alarming symptoms, then do not pass it off as perimenopause woes. Address it right away and immediately contact the doctor.
Ensure to provide the healthcare provider with adequate information, like your last menstrual period, any medications you are on, or even any pain you face in the abdominal or pelvic region.