The post-period blues are real and many of us go through them once our period ends. However, some women experience something strange after their period: Brown discharge, also called lochia, can last for a few days or even weeks after your period. So what causes brown discharge after your period? And is it something to worry about? Let’s find out. Brown discharge after your period is not uncommon and happens because of the sudden drop in estrogen levels during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle.
The discharge is produced by the remnants of the ruptured follicle (the small sack holding each ovum) and is stained brown by exposure to air for several days. If you are wondering why this happens or what other possible causes of brown discharge are after your period? Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is Lochia?
Lochia is the medical term used to describe the discharge that many women experience after their period. It is the last stage of your menstrual cycle during which the uterine wall sheds the blood and tissue from the previous month’s menstrual cycle.
The colour of lochia is usually brown, red or a combination of both as it contains blood and other fluids like mucus, uterine wall cells and sloughed-off tissue. The amount, colour and consistency of lochia can vary based on your lifestyle, health and diet.
During your period, your body sheds the lining of your uterus, which is why you will experience heavy bleeding and cramps. After your period ends, your body continues to shed the uterine lining, causing lochia. Lochia can last anywhere from three to nine days, and it’s usually messy and bright red.
Lochia is usually followed by a lighter discharge that’s clear and watery. This is the body’s way of cleaning out remaining blood and tissue, which is a sign that you’ve moved into the post-period phase of the menstrual cycle.
Natural Discharge After Your Period Ends
This kind of discharge is nothing to worry about and happens as a result of falling estrogen levels after your period ends. Estrogen helps your body keep your reproductive organs healthy, including your uterus and ovaries. The sudden drop in estrogen levels after your period ends can cause cells in your uterus to shed, resulting in a small amount of brown discharge.
This is a completely normal part of your menstrual cycle. Once your cycle has ended and you are no longer bleeding, you may experience some light spotting or a bit of brown discharge, which is your uterus shedding the leftover blood and tissue from your period.
This discharge is not harmful and should go away within a couple of days after your period ends. If your discharge lasts longer than that, or if it becomes heavier, you should speak to your doctor to make sure nothing is wrong.
Medications That Cause Brown Discharge After Your Period
- Cyclic hormone therapy (CHT) – Is used to treat symptoms of menopause in women who have gone through menopause naturally. It is usually prescribed to women in their 50s who have gone through menopause as it helps to relieve the symptoms like hot flushes, sweating, palpitations, etc. In addition to these symptoms, this kind of therapy can also cause cyclic brown discharge after your period. If you are taking this medication and experiencing this, talk to your doctor about adjusting the dose to prevent this side effect.
- Antibiotics – These are prescribed to treat infections caused by bacteria like UTIs and bladder infections, etc. These medications can cause cyclic brown discharge after your period.
- Birth control pills – Birth control pills are taken to prevent pregnancy, but they can sometimes cause cyclic brown discharge after your period. This happens because birth control pills can alter the normal shedding of the uterine lining during a menstrual cycle.
Infections That Cause Brown Discharge After Your Period
Gonorrhea – Gonorrhea is caused by a bacteria called Gonococcus and is transmitted through sexual intercourse. The bacteria can infect the reproductive organs of both men and women.
The signs and symptoms of gonorrhea in women include a burning sensation when urinating, yellow or greenish discharge from the vagina, abnormal bleeding from the vagina during menstruation, pain in the lower abdomen, and pain during sexual intercourse. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, go to a doctor immediately as it might be gonorrhea.
Chlamydia – Chlamydia is caused by bacteria and is transmitted through sexual intercourse. The bacteria infect the cervix and uterus of women and can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in rare cases.
The signs and symptoms of chlamydia in women include abnormal bleeding during menstruation, abnormal discharge from the vagina, abdominal pain, pain during sexual intercourse, and itching near the vagina and anus. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, go to a doctor immediately as it might be chlamydia.
Endometriosis And Other Conditions That Cause Brown Discharge After Your Period
Endometriosis: This is a condition where uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, which causes heavy bleeding during menstruation and cyclic brown discharge after your period. In rare cases, this tissue can also grow inside the uterus.
Polyps: These growths can be present inside your uterus or on the wall of your uterus, and they can cause cyclic brown discharge after your period.
Fibroids: These are non-cancerous, but large, fibrous growths in the wall of the uterus. While these are common in postmenopausal women, they can also affect younger women. Fibroids can cause cyclic brown discharge after your period.
Brown discharge after your period is a completely normal and healthy part of your menstrual cycle. Your body sheds the uterine lining as it prepares for your next period. Your discharge may be heavier and have a different consistency than it did during your period. It may also have a different colour, such as brown.
Don’t worry if you notice this change—it’s perfectly normal. If your discharge is heavier than normal or has a different colour than it usually does, see a doctor as soon as possible. And if you have any concerns or questions about your menstrual cycle, it’s best to talk to your doctor.