What Does It Mean When You Spot Brown Instead of Your Period?

According to WebMD, brown-colored spotting in the place of a regular menstrual period can signify possible pregnancy, ovulation, perimenopause or polycystic ovary syndrome. In certain cases, mid-cycle spotting is harmless, but it is important for women experiencing spotting to consult with a physician to ensure a proper diagnosis.

The Mayo Clinic explains that brown spotting is common in women who are just starting to take birth control pills. This type of brown spotting typically resolves itself within one to two months. It is also common for menstruating females to experience brown spotting a few days prior to and following their menstrual cycles.

According to MedlinePlus, brown discharge and bleeding between periods may signify cervical cancer, a slow-growing cancer that is 100 percent treatable if detected early. Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women and is linked to the human papilloma virus, the virus that causes warts. Signs that cervical cancer has advanced include back pain, pelvic pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, bone pain, urine leakage and swelling.

MedlinePlus explains that if cervical cancer is left untreated, it can spread to the lungs, bladder, intestines and liver. Cervical cancer is detected using Pap smears and biopsies. In early stages, affected cervical tissue can be effectively removed with laser therapy, cryotherapy (freezing the cells) and electrosurgical excision procedures.