Heather Corinna replies:
I was supposed to get my period about 2 weeks ago and although my periods are never exact and to the day, they usually aren't that late. But about 4 days ago I started getting brown spotting, like old blood, which sometimes signals the begginning of my cycle, so I was quite relieved. But I've been getting this exact same brown spotting for the past 4 days and it's really confusing and worrying me. The only sign of any actual flow I've had is right after I went for a run yesterday and there was just a tiny tiny bit of actual red color. I took a thorough biology course and I know a lot about the menstrual cycle and pregnancy and all the hormones involved and that knowledge is making me paranoid I think (and I'm already a worry wart by nature). I just can't figure out, hormone-wise, why I wouldn't be shedding my endometrium, unless my progesterone levels haven't in fact dropped - indicating pregnancy. I am still a proud virgin at 18, but about 2 and a half weeks ago my boyfriend and I fooled around. He didn't ejaculate anywhere near me. The only thing I'm worried about is that maybe his semen (or pre-cum) got on one of our hands and it came into contact with me, and I know that even then, the chances of the 100 odd sperm actually making it all the way to my fallopian tubes is slim to none, (especially since he didn't finger me, and that I most likely had already finished ovulating by then considering I was supposed to get my period any day, at the time). It's just worrying me because my periods have never done anything odd like this, and on top of that, that was the first time I've fooled around before. Coincidence?? I'm just wondering if you have any alternate conclusions, which I hope are more plausible than mine, for this prolongued brown spotting. It'd be nice to have my mind at ease :)
And I just wanted to add that even though I'm not a regular to this site, I have been using it for the past 4 years when I have any questions and you're always so quick to reply and non-judgemental. I appreciate it and it's great to know that everytime I need questions answered I have somewhere to go!
Hey, there, Anon: glad we've continued being of help to you!
Honestly, I don't see any cause for concern here.
Not only do I see no viable risks of pregnancy in this, just as you don't, I also don't see any reason to assume that you didn't have a period this time around. My guess is you just have had a very light and/or late one, and that brown spotting either WAS that period, or was the discharge following it. It's pretty normal -- even if it's not the norm for you -- to see a brownish discharge, discharge with traces of old blood -- after a period.
It does happen now and then that our menstrual periods are different than we're used to: slightly different color, different level of flow, different timing. Our reproductive systems live within the whole of our bodies, and any number of influences can alter a given cycle now and then. And our reproductive hormone levels can shift a bit based on more factors than just pregnancy, too (and it might be coincidental in terms of your fool-around, OR, if you don't often masturbate or get highly aroused, even that minor change may have made your hormones go, "Huh? WHA? WHOA!" for a couple days), especially when we're younger. Any recent changes in your body weight, your diet, your excercise levels, stresses, illness? All of these things could be reasons for a late, skipped or scanty period. You also seem to be saying your periods, while not THIS irregular -- are often irregular: have you had a gynecologist look into this to make sure all's well?
By all means, if you think you have earnestly had any STI risks or pregnancy risks, get checked out pronto, but based on this post, I'm not seeing them. Since this has only happened this one time, I'm not seeing a reason to worry, either. Generally, the cardinal rule with menstrual anomolies (when you know pregnancy isn't a likely issue) is to keep an eye on things for three cycles: if you've got something weird going on for three in a row, or start to have other unusual symptoms -- things like cramping during other parts of your cycle besides when you menstruate, more unusual discharges, any funny smells or colors -- then it's a good idea to see your gynecologist.