Clotting and Brown Bleeding with Period

Question

I have been getting my periods closer together for the past six months. The past few I have had more clotting, and this month it seems to be a brown color. What could possibly be the problem?

Answer

Last Updated: July 16, 2013
There are a few possiblities. However, without knowing your age or medical history it is a little hard to focus on the more likely ones. That being said, I would first wonder if you are actually having periods, meaning a normal shedding of the endometrial lining 13 days, +/- 4 days after ovulation. The flow should be crescendo-decrescendo or crescendo. This means the flow starts light, goes to heavy then to light. Or it can start heavy and go to light. The flow length should be around 8 days.

What you may see as a period getting closer together is actually irregular endometrial shedding because of no ovulation. The lining of the uterus keeps building up from estrogen, but without a buildup and drop off of progesterone, the endometrium never completely sheds. Many women will do this thinking their periods are 3 weeks apart. This usually occurs with anovulatory cycles.

The clotting and brown coloration are typical of the anovulatory cycles. The brown color means old blood. The clots are irregular shedding endometrium.

The causes of this situation? I would first think of thyroid dysfunction, ovarian failure secondary to upcoming menopause, and ovarian dysfunction (luteal dysfunction) where the progesterone is not adequately produced. One must also consider infection, fibroids, and especially endometriosis which is associated with luteal dysfunction. I would expect other symptoms though.

Of course, make an appointment with your doctor. Until then, accurately chart days you bleed. If possible, find a certified natural family planning instructor to help you learn how to chart. There is a wealth of information from these charts. Most doctors have not seen them but can get basic information from them verifying your situation of irregular bleeding. You can educate your doctor about charting. It really does help!

Gretchen V. Marsh, D.O.

Answered By:

Gretchen Marsh, D.O.
Dr. Marsh graduated from Western University of Health Sciences in 1987 in Pomona, CA and is board certified in Family Medicine by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians. She has been certified as a NaProTechnology® Medical Consultant (NaPro) and Creighton model Fertility Care System (CrMS) teacher since 2001. She and her husband, Jon, have 5 sons and live in the Reno region, where she sees patients in person, in addition to her telehealth services offered via MyCatholicDoctor.com

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