Brown discharge is a broad term indicating a list of health issues and has a bizarre set of symptoms.
You must be wondering how is brown discharge related to pregnancy and is brownish discharge normal in early pregnancy?
Brown vaginal discharge is a sign of pregnancy, last day of period, urinary tract infections, implantation and a lot more.
It is not distinct neither like period nor like cervical mucus. Sometimes a bad odor or a fishy smell comes along brown discharge from the vagina.
Table of Contents
- What does brown discharge mean?
- How does brown discharge look?
- Different types of brown discharge
- When does brown discharge occur?
- Top 8 Symptoms Of Brown discharge
- Brown discharge lasts for how many days?
- Brown discharge treatment
- Top 10 Brown discharge Home Remedies: How To Get Rid Of Brown Discharge
- Top 30 Reasons For Brown discharge
- 1) Old menstrual blood
- 2) Ovulation
- 3) Implantation bleeding
- 4) Vigorous sex
- 5) Cervical examination
- 6) Abrupt discontinuation of birth control
- 7) Cervical infection or pelvic inflammatory disease
- 8) Perimenopause
- 9) Ovarian cysts
- 10) Cervical cancer
- 11) Sexually transmitted diseases(STD)
- 12) Pregnancy changes
- 13) Miscarriage
- 14) Thyroid diseases
- 15) Starting hormonal contraceptives
- 16) Uterine polyps
- 17) Atrophic vaginitis
- 18) Reduced estrogen level
- 19) Placental changes or abnormalities
- 20) Liver cirrhosis and kidney failure
- 21) Incorrect tampon insertion or leaving it for a long time
- 22) Prescriptions
- 23) Bleeding or blood disorders
- 24) Menarche
- 25) Uterine scars, fibroids or trauma
- 26) Ectopic pregnancy
- 27) Premature labor
- 28) Stress
- 29) Leukemia
- 30) IVF Treatments
- Brown discharge after sex
- Brown discharge and period
- Brown discharge endometriosis
- Brown discharge while breastfeeding
- Brown Discharge after menopause
- Brown discharge after hysterectomy
- Brown discharge With Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
What does brown discharge mean?
Brown discharge is nothing in itself technically. This means that brown color of the discharge is due to old blood. It is the commonly used term for old blood coming along cervical mucus.
Have you seen blood clot after getting an injury? Blood has coagulating factors and other components that react with air, and give it a brown tinge. Other symptoms that occur along abnormal BD are pain, cramps, PID, spotting, and itching.
You must have seen external injuries form a plaque and fall off. But what about the internal bleeding that is not able to get out of the body?
Blood from hemorrhage stays in the linings and clots there due to natural mechanisms. However, it doesn’t decay completely.
The partially broken down blood comes along with cervical mucus as brown vaginal discharge.
How does brown discharge look?
Brown vaginal discharge is like thick brown mucus. It can be gooey or stringy brown discharge.
The color of the discharge also ranges and can be pinkish brown vaginal discharge or dark brown discharge. Light brown discharge is very common and mostly doesn’t need medical attention.
Brown discharge from the vagina can make a woman who had unprotected intercourse believe that she is pregnant. It indeed is a symptom of early pregnancy. However, it solely cannot validate that you are pregnant.
Different types of brown discharge
- Brown smelly discharge
- Pinkish brown discharge
- Dark brown discharge
- Light brown discharge
- Thick brown discharge
- Reddish brown discharge
- Brown stringy discharge
- Brownish gooey discharge
- Brown discharge jelly like
When does brown discharge occur?
Brown discharge can occur almost after any event inside the vagina. There is no specific time as old blood can come out anytime or stay there for long.
It is more likely to occur during the days when you are producing copius amounts of cervical mucus.
Top 8 Symptoms Of Brown discharge
Brown discharge itself is a symptom of many diseases. However, if someone changes her sanitary napkin after the entire day to find brown blood she needs this list. Transmitted infections have their characteristic symptoms.
Normal discharge doesn’t have a fishy odor. Yellow discharge or bleeding are signs of contracting infections that cause smelly discharge.
Blood in sanitary napkin can become brown if you don’t change your pad often. But it is not brown discharge. Here are the symptoms:
- Brown discharge and cramps: It is a common symptom of implantation. Implantation is the process of attachment of the embryo to the uterus. In this case, you experience mild cramps known as implantation cramps. You should take a pregnancy test in this scenario.
- Brown discharge and spotting: It happens during ovulation. Spotting in mid-cycle is a sign of ovulation and brown vaginal discharge is old blood coming along. If you get a brown color discharge in middle of the cycle, then you might be ovulating. Other ovulation symptoms like a rise in basal body temperature and nausea confirm that this discharge is due to ovulation.
- Brown discharge and back pain: It is a symptom that hints a disease depending on the severity of the condition. If the back pain is unbearable, then it might be indicative of uterine polyps. You must immediately consult a doctor.
- Headache and nausea: These are symptoms of ovulation. It may also be a part of PMS. It is also a sign of oncoming periods.
- Brown discharge and itching: It is a sign of yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Urinary tract infections lead to a change of vaginal discharge to brown color.
- Pus: Pus coming along with brown vaginal discharge from vagina shows that there are inflammation and infection. Swollen labia and sticky yellow pus are signs of a pelvic inflammatory disorder.
- Bad odor: If there is a foul smell along with brownish discharge, then it is not period blood. The odor, in fact, shows that the brown discharge isn’t normal. Due to urinary tract infections, it has a fishy odor.
- Pain while urinating: If you experience this then it may be because of kidney stones. Kidney stones are salt lumps in the kidney due to blocks in filtering pathways. They are treatable using drugs without surgery.
Brown discharge lasts for how many days?
Brown discharge can last for any length of time depending on the reason for it. However, if the discharge lasts only for two days, then it is normal and needs no medical attention.
If it lasts for more than 3 days needs doctor’s consultation.
Brown discharge treatment
Some of our readers ask us ‘When to see a doctor for brown discharge?’
The answer is if you get it for more than 2-3 days and itching and pain, accompany it then you must visit a doctor.
If you experience these brown discharge symptoms:
- Pain and itching in the vagina
- Swollen vagina or labia
- Back pain and cramps
- Heavy discharge for more than 3 days
- Blood turning darker
Then you must consult with a doctor.
Brown vaginal discharge due to kidney stones is difficult to diagnose. The pain is unbearable and mostly misunderstood as menstrual cramps.
However, there is a difference in the location of pain. Also if it happens because of kidney stones, then it will have no relation to your menstrual dates. This condition needs immediate medical attention.
Top 10 Brown discharge Home Remedies: How To Get Rid Of Brown Discharge
Every diseased condition has some or the other natural cure. There are some home remedies and treatments for treating this at home.
These home remedies are more of precautionary measures.
- Always change your sanitary napkin when you are on period
- Do not douche vagina
- After using the loo swipe your private areas clean. Start the rubbing motion from the front and take it behind. So that nothing remains in the vagina
- Don’t use tampons for long without changing
- Wear loose cotton undergarments
- Avoid use of scented soaps and talcum powders
- Eat foods rich in iron for avoiding blood disorders
- Never skip the combination drugs while on a prescription of blood thinning drugs
- After any cervical examination use the prescribed medicinal wash
- Do not insert any object into the vagina and don’t indulge in sex with unknowns
Top 30 Reasons For Brown discharge
1) Old menstrual blood
Blood has red colored pigments which get oxidized when exposed to oxygen. These pigments have iron which gives it a brown color on oxidation. It may happen that the menstrual blood comes later after a period as brown vaginal discharge. Every woman gets a slight amount of it after periods. Old blood is brown. After bleeding during heavy period days most women experience spotting.
Ovulation is the release of the egg during every menstrual cycle. Hormone imbalance near the time of ovulation causes the sudden mood swings and discomfort. Some women experience spotting mixed in white discharge during ovulation because of a drop in the estrogen level in the blood. Low estrogen level causes thinning of vaginal tissues and makes them vulnerable to tearing. Blood oozing from such tissues mixes with cervical mucus and comes as brown gooey discharge.
3) Implantation bleeding
Implantation bleeding is the spotting seen during attachment of the embryo to the uterus. When the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the womb, it leads to implantation bleeding. This blood gets mixed in the cervical mucus and comes as pink & brown color discharge. Some of the blood might not immediately move out of the vagina and sit there. It will get a brown color and later appear as brown vaginal discharge.
4) Vigorous sex
Deep penetrative sex does lead to bleeding many times after the first time. In this case, it may happen that the blood doesn’t flow out and clots in the vagina. This will later appear in your knickers as a dark brown discharge. Hardcore sex is a reason for healthy brown discharge. Vaginal discharge after sex changes as their is mixing of your partner’s cum. There is nothing to worry about it.
5) Cervical examination
PAP examination or cervical examination involves the use of soft tipped instruments. Doctors insert and rotate tools inside for checking the vagina. Cervix position examination also requires insertion of a soft needle. Such cervical inspections are frequently done during pregnancy. The cervix becomes even more sensitive at that time. These instruments might cause internal bleeding. One might see pink brown discharge after a cervical checkup by a doctor. Such diagnostic tests are a cause of pinkish brown vaginal discharge.
6) Abrupt discontinuation of birth control
Sudden discontinuation of birth control pills is hazardous to health. Before starting or stopping any birth control one must consult a doctor. Birth control pills alter the natural tuning of hormones in a female’s body. It sets an artificial rhythm. When someone suddenly discontinues a birth control breakout bleeding is common. Uterine lining takes time to start building up and breaking down monthly like before. Breakout bleeding is internal. This blood remains inside and later appears as dark brown vaginal discharge.
7) Cervical infection or pelvic inflammatory disease
Cervical infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections are a cause of brown discharge. Such infections and inflammatory diseases make the vaginal wall brittle. They also reduce the amount of cervical mucus produced which leads to bleeding. Thus cervical mucus along with blood appears as spotting or brown discharge. In this case, it looks like blood. Reddish brown vaginal discharge is characteristic of cervical infections.
Perimenopause is the decline of female hormones in a woman after she crosses her mid-thirties. One can understand it as a pre-menopause stage. When estrogen levels decline, the period becomes erratic and scanty. It would be darker and will look like brown vaginal discharge.
9) Ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts are small benign tumors in the ovaries due to uncontrolled cell division. It may be due to exposure to radiation or some other carcinogenic substance. In other cases, there are disorders like PCOS in which ovaries have cysts. Such women too will have a dark discharge looking period. Poly cystic ovary syndrome has many other symptoms. Don’t let a brown spec in your panty panic you.
10) Cervical cancer
Cervical cancer in general also leads to many complications. Vaginal discharge ranging from light brown discharge to dark brown vaginal discharge is a sign of cervical cancer.
11) Sexually transmitted diseases(STD)
Sexually transmitted diseases include gonorrhoea, syphilis, and genital warts. Heavy brown discharge is a symptom of some STDs.
12) Pregnancy changes
Pregnancy both in the early and later stage has different kinds of brown vaginal discharge as a symptom. Along the course of pregnancy, a woman sees a lot of brown vaginal discharge. There is no major problem unless the amount is so much that you have to use a sanitary napkin.
Miscarriage is the spontaneous abortion of a pregnancy. Mostly the internal bleeding from a miscarriage takes a long time to get out of the body. As time lapses, the blood becomes brown. Different types of discharge come after a miscarriage. Brown vaginal discharge can be a sign of probable miscarriage too.
14) Thyroid diseases
Thyroid diseases and other endocrine glands diseases can also fluctuate the other hormones. Such metabolism problems may alter the kind of vaginal discharge. Brown vaginal discharge is common in women who have thyroid dysfunction. Period like discharge is often seen in such cases. The blood has lower haemoglobin content and thus has an unusual color. Black discharge during a period is the dark blood on the sanitary napkin.
15) Starting hormonal contraceptives
Whenever a woman starts taking any contraceptives, it involves altering the hormonal balance. In such a situation the woman might experience brownish discharge. The doctor might inform her about such side effects during consultation visit. It won’t last for more than 3 days.
16) Uterine polyps
Uterine polyps are outgrowth in the uterus. If your period looks like brown mucus discharge, it may be because you have uterine polyps.
17) Atrophic vaginitis
Atrophic vaginitis is the thinning of the wall of the vagina due to decreasing levels of estrogen. Due to low estrogen, vaginal wall becomes so thin that it starts bleeding on its own. The blood, however, doesn’t ooze out. It forms a paper layer within and later comes off the vaginal wall.
18) Reduced estrogen level
Reduced levels of estrogen cause a lot of problems. Estrogen levels fall in the mid-cycle as a normal physiological phenomenon. As the day of ovulation nears, amount of vaginal discharge increase and it becomes stretchy. Stringy discharge between periods is normal for women who experience ovulation spotting.
19) Placental changes or abnormalities
Sub Chorionic brown discharge is the blood that collects under the placenta which later comes off during pregnancy.
20) Liver cirrhosis and kidney failure
Liver disease and kidney stones cause internal bleeding. These are the rare causes that not related to pregnancy and female reproductive health. Kidney stones can lead to bleeding and other urine problems. The discharge in urine is the blood coming from kidneys or liver.
21) Incorrect tampon insertion or leaving it for a long time
Tampon, vaginal douche, scented soaps and other such intimate hygiene products need to be of the best quality. If the products used are not good and the methodology is incorrect then it can lead to infections.
Prescriptions such as blood thinners like Warfarin or anti-cancer drugs make the blood thin. This can cause internal bleeding which comes out of the vagina during the period. Mid-cycle spotting is also a consequence of such medicines.
23) Bleeding or blood disorders
Blood disorders like a low platelet count can cause discharge which is like period. Platelets are blood cells needed for coagulation of blood on rupture of blood veins. The blood doesn’t coagulate due to low platelet count. Thus internal bleeding mixes with cervical mucus and comes along with it.
Menarche is the first menstrual flow. Before menarche, a thick brown discharge comes out of the vagina in some teenagers. It is normal and happens only the first time. Steven Dowshen, MD on Teens Health® 2 said that brown discharge is not normal in girls brimming puberty. Talking about vaginal discharge secretion he says that itching and change in color of discharge signs of infection in teen girls. Clear or off white discharge starts coming few months before menarche. Thus vaginal discharge precedes first period.
25) Uterine scars, fibroids or trauma
Any injuries to the uterus from previous pregnancies or any traumatic jerks can cause rupture of the lining.
26) Ectopic pregnancy
Ectopic or chemical pregnancies result due to implantation in the wrong position. The embryo implants in the Fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. Brown vaginal discharge is a sign of Ectopic pregnancy.
27) Premature labor
As pregnancy reaches its final stages the cervix dilates it is a common sight. Nonetheless, premature labor too has a brown vaginal discharge as a sign.
Stress can give rise to almost any disorder. If a woman is under a lot of stress, she might experience brown vaginal discharge more frequently. She might have it repeatedly throughout the cycle.
A kind of blood cancer Leukemia is also a reason for it. However, the reason is reduced platelet count.
30) IVF Treatments
In Vitro Fertilization involve many hormonal drugs. They alter the normal physiology. The treatment can change the color of vaginal discharge to brown.
Brown discharge after sex
Brown discharge after sex as mentioned earlier is due to rupture of the vaginal lining.
During sex, the penis rubs inside the vagina, and it may tear the soft tissues. The friction may cause burning sensation and brownish discharge later.
If it occurs week after sex, then it is a sign of STD. Brownish vaginal discharge spotting is normal but heavy or very dark brown vaginal discharge after sex is a sign of infection.
Brown discharge and period
Brown discharge before period
Dark brown discharge before period is old blood clearing off the vagina. It is nothing to worry about if normal red blood starts coming. Light brown discharge before period is normal even if it continues for a longer time. It is the uterine blood vessels and wall pieces coming along.
Brown discharge between periods
During mid-cycle, it is a sign of ovulation. If this happens during ovulation, it occurs with spotting.
Brown discharge late period
Brownish discharge with a late period is a sign of early pregnancy. It could also be that your blood doesn’t have enough hemoglobin. So it appears darker and period blood looks like it.
Brown discharge after period
It is the remaining blood coming from the vagina. Generally, on the last day of the period, you get a dark brown colored vaginal discharge. If it occurs 2 weeks after the period then it is not usual, and it could be ovulation of next cycle. Menstrual cycle fluctuates and thus if the second cycle is coming earlier then brown discharge after period is a sign of next ovulation.
Brown discharge and no period
Dark brown discharge instead of a period is a sign of implantation. It indicates that you are pregnant. Brown discharge and a missed period is a sign that you must take a pregnancy test.
Brown discharge endometriosis
Endometriosis is the outgrowth of vaginal tissues invading other organs. After endometriosis, it could be due to bleeding from other tissues.
If it happens after surgery of endometriosis, it could be due to scars and fibroids.
Brown discharge while breastfeeding
Brown vaginal discharge continues for sometime after surgery or delivery. The blood keeps coming for many weeks.
It is normal to have it after delivery. Discharge while breastfeeding may be a sign of period cycle starting again.
Ovulation doesn’t occur for few months after delivery. Sex without contraception is still safe during breastfeeding.
In some cases, if the woman continues to ovulate, she might get pregnant. This is true when period-like discharge while breastfeeding comes after three to four months.
Brown Discharge after menopause
It is unusual and can cause panic. A woman who has undergone a cessation of menstrual cycle doesn’t get period.
When she gets a brown looking discharge, it can mean only two things either she has a cervical infection, or it is old blood.
It is the old remains of blood coming out (due to bleeding caused by rupturing of vaginal walls during sex)
Brown discharge after hysterectomy
Hysterectomy is the removal of most parts of the uterus. It is normal to experience brownish discharge for weeks after a hysterectomy.
The average duration of occurrence after hysterectomy is 4-6 weeks. Foul smelling discharge after hysterectomy continues for weeks.
Brown discharge With Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
- Herpes: Herpes is sexually transmitted disease. Herpes Simplex Virus is the causative agent of Herpes. But it is interesting to note that the vaginal discharge color doesn’t change during Herpes infection. The sores and rashes may rupture and bleed. This makes the vaginal discharge brown.
- Yeast Infection: Yeast infection or Candidiasis is very common in most women. It is due to unhygienic practices and is a symptom of a severe yeast infection.
- Genital Warts: Genital Warts infection transmits sexually. It is not a consequence of Genital Warts infection directly. The rashes and sores start exuding pus, and thus it appears as discharge.
- Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is urinary tract infection caused by Neisseria. It is a venereal disease. It is a symptom of Gonorrhea.
- Journal of Paediatric and Adolescent Gynecology https://www.jpagonline.org/article/S1083-3188(18)30016-0/full text