What Does Brown Vaginal Discharge Mean?

A brown discharge from the vagina is not always abnormal, specifically if there are no associated symptoms.

The vaginal canal is lined by numerous glands which secrete mucous secretions which keep the canal moist and lubricated. Also, this is a part of natural cleaning of the vaginal canal, where the secretions wash away all dirt, tissue debris and germs from the canal to outside.

Causes of Brown Vaginal Discharge

Following Menstrual Flow

Vaginal discharge may be slightly brown in color just after menses, when the uterus cleans itself and the canal.

The normal clear discharge may get mixed with blood and dead cells after the cycle to give this color. Such a discharge is normal and not a point of concern. However, if it persists for a week or more, it needs to be investigated.

After Sex

A brown vaginal discharge after sex may be due to some blood getting mixed with it. It is likely that the act lead to some mild trauma inside, which caused bleeding. The blood gets dried up to give a brown color.

However, if the yellow brown vaginal discharge is persistent for more than two days, it should be investigated. This may be a sign of some infection.

Cervical Cancer

Malignancies are notorious to give little or no symptom at all. If you observe a light brown vaginal discharge or even spotting from the vagina on a persistent basis, it is advisable to go for investigations at the earliest.

An easy screening test called pap smear may be done every 3 years to rule out this cancer.

Vaginal Infections

Some infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea or even warts may give a brownish discharge. The discharge is usually brown and smelly. Other symptoms are usually associated, like pain, itching, bad odor or burning.

At the Time of Ovulation

Ovulation occurs at the 14th day of menstrual period. A clear discharge is common during this day. Sometimes, slight bleeding may occur with the release of egg. This blood turns brown till it reaches the vaginal opening and a brown vaginal discharge may be seen.

Brown Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy

This may be implantation bleeding. When the egg gets implanted in the uterus, a slight bleeding is possible. This bleed may pass out through the vagina as a light pink or brown discharge.

Uterine Polyp

There may be a growth inside the uterus, like polyps. Such growths bleed with menses. They may also bleed otherwise to give a reddish brown vaginal discharge.

During Perimenopausal Phase

Perimenopause may be associated with a brown discharge. This discharge may sometimes be yellow to reddish brown. It is usually slight in amount. If it is heavy, consult your doctor at the earliest.

Brown vaginal discharge after menopause also needs to be investigated. It may be an indication of some growth in the uterus or else where in the reproductive tract.

Atrophic Vaginitis

This is a condition where the inner lining of the vaginal canal gets thinned out or atrophied. The condition is usually associated with decreased amounts of estrogen as in menopause.

There may be a light brown or yellowish discharge. Itching due to dryness is usually associated. Sexual intercourse is painful.

Certain Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases (PID)

Infection anywhere in the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, vagina or the ovaries may lead to a vaginal discharge. Its color may vary from light brown, yellow or reddish, depending upon the infection and its location.

Associated symptoms are usually there, including fever, itching, pelvic pain,  foul smelling odor and menstrual irregularities.

Diagnosing a Brown Vaginal Discharge

If you have a brown mucus vaginal discharge on a persistent or recurrent basis, do not ignore it.

Look of any other associated symptom, like:

  • Smell of the discharge,
  • Whether it is thick brown vaginal discharge or thin. Whether it is light or dark brown in color.
  • Any pain in the canal, pain during intercourse.
  • Itching or burning in the genital region
  • If the discharge is sticky or stringy
  • Swelling or redness of the vagina and nearby areas.

Further investigations need to be carried out to diagnose the cause of the discharge.

Treatment would depend upon the underlying cause of the discharge. If it is an infection, antibiotics would be required. Growths inside the uterus require hormonal treatments. If the bleed is heavy, surgical excision may be done.

Malignancy needs to be treated a the earliest.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Brown Vaginal Discharge – Causes and Management

  1. WHITNEY

    It’s been almost a week now plus mo days from my menses. I have this pink to light brownish vaginal discharge not foul smelling and it’s not in alarming quantity! I usually have this kind of discharge for two days after menses. Now worried could there be something wrong with me! I’m 24 years and I have one sexual partner.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      There are more than one possibilities.

      This may be pregnancy or some infection.

      In infective states, you’ll find the surrounding area red, itchy. You may self examine with a mirror.

      A painless bleed may be malignancy. It is recommended you go to a doctor for examination.

      Reply
    2. Paballo

      It’s been almost after three weeks now from my menses. I have a thick brown vaginal discharge and it is not in huge quantity! It’s my first time to have this kind of discharge, so is there anything wrong with me? I m 25years and I have one sexual partner.

      Reply
  2. Victoria

    Hello. It has already been 2 weeks that I had a yellow vaginal discharge, it smells and it burns. Recently a light brown discharge is added to the list. What could be the cause?
    I am 19 years old.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This is likely to be an infection. You need to take antibiotics for this.

      It’s better to go to a doctor as early as possible. If left untreated, the infection may travel up to involve other higher reproductive organs.

      Reply
  3. Susan

    I’ve been having light brown discharge for over a week and it’s been pretty light. I haven’t gotten my period yet (unless I’m just having a super light one right now), but I have no other symptoms other than maybe slight bloating. Should I be worried?

    Reply
  4. Julie

    I lost my virginity 4 days ago. I now am getting some white to light brown discharge. Is this normal? We used a condom and he is clean. It’s just still a scary thought.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Any pain, redness or itching down there?

      If not, you may relax. The discharge may be due to the first intercourse you had. This is normal.

      Reply
  5. Nicole

    I started getting brown discharge (caries in color light/dark) about a week and a half ago. I have PCOS and very irregular periods but always had great blood work. They claim that my being overweight effected it. I just started changing my diet and exercise routine two months prior. So I am not regular and haven’t had a period in 7 months. I have light bloating and mild cramps. Very confused.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      PCOS has a relation with being overweight. Loosing weight would help.

      As for the brown discharge, let us know if there is any redness or itching down there.

      Reply
        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          You are unlikely to have any infection down there. The discharge may be related to your PCOS problem.

          You need to see a gyne for this.

          Reply
  6. Rebeca Green

    After having sex, I always have normal discharge. The discharge does have a strong smell and usually lasts about a day. I do wash well but on excessively. After intercourse is the only time it has the odor any other normal body discharge does not have a smell. Could this be because of an imbalance of the bacteria or what could cause this?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      After intercourse, it may be your vaginal secretions mixed with semen, or the smell of latex condom mixed with your secretions.

      As far as you see no redness or itchiness down there, it is not a problem.

      Reply
  7. Rosemary Thairu

    3 months ago, I got this foul smelling discharge that is yellowish/brownish and was treated for UTI. It has recurred and after scan I am told I got fluid in the POD a sign of PID. Now what is the best treatment for this, as I fear what the doctor was suggesting, having the fluid extracted. Is there medication for it?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This appear to be a PID, may be partly bacterial vaginosis. Two different medicines are recommended as treatment for BV: metronidazole or clindamycin.

      Though most cases of infections get healed by antibiotic treatment alone, if the infected fluid present in your pelvis is substantial, it’s better to get it drained surgically.

      Reply
  8. Cynthia

    I had intercourse 9, 6, and 2 days ago.
    After the first 2 times (9&6) days ago, there was bleeding, though I suspect this was due to possibly being scratched.
    However, when I had intercourse 2 days ago, I noticed there was a dark brown discharge accompanied by dark brown, almost black specks, which occurred at the beginning of the day (prior to intercourse), which has only gotten heavier/darker
    What could have caused the spotting/ is the bleeding associated with it?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This appears to be something from the uterine cavity. Small clots could have appeared as black specks.

      Have you been menstruating until recently? What’s your age?

      Reply
      1. Cynthia

        I am 19.
        Until about 6 months ago my cycle was highly irregular, however, I went on birth control pills around then and they have been regular since then.
        I noticed that this evening the spotting has decreased but is still present.

        Reply
          1. Julie

            Hey I’m 19 and I fooled around with someone and I went to the bathroom and had a thick brown discharge. I still have my virginity but like he only stuck the head in. What can this be?

          2. Buddy M.D. Post author

            Any itch or pain down there? Is the area red or swollen?

            If not, this is unlikely to be an infection. This discharge may be a part of regular house cleaning job being done by your vagina.

  9. joan

    Hi! I’m 27 years old and had a long distance relationship. Just this last week, me and my partner had sexual intercourse again after 3mos, we only had 4 days to be together and we made love 3 times and all those intercourse were not withrawal and no protection, which is we always do. We’ve been together for a year but had very limited intercourse due to long distance relationship and everytime we do it we never had any protection and never done any withrawal process. Anyway, just this last week after our intercourse when I get back in my place I had this dark brown smelly discharge and I am very alarm because it was far from the usual. Even when I am wearing pants, I can still smell the disgusting odor down there. Can you please tell me what’s the reason behind this? Is it possible that HE might had an intercourse with other woman that’s why I am having this dark brown smelly discharge. I had irregular menstruation as well, last month I had my menstruation on the 3rd to 7th of november. Please, please I hope you can help me about this. I’ve been so stressed about this and I don’t know what to do. Been having this smell and discharge for about 6 days up to now.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This is very likely to be a vaginal infection. You need to see gyne for a check up. The earlier you start with the medicines, the better it is.

      If delayed, the infection can travel upwards and affect other reproductive organs too.

      It’s difficult to comment how you got the infection. It may be through infected commodes, intercourse, tampons etc.

      Reply
  10. j

    I have been having a brownish discharge for nearly a week now. I must admit, this month I have forgotten to take my pill regularly. Could this be the cause?

    Reply
  11. tabitha

    I have been having light brown to dark brownish discharge for 2 weeks now. It does have a smell and I do have slight pelvic pain here and there. I had my left ovary and tube removed in 2011 due to a serous fibroadenoma that was recurrent. I am a little concerned and not really sure if this is normal.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Likely to be a pelvic infections, for which antibiotics need to be given.

      However, since you have mentioned fibroadenoma in your past history, you need to visit your doctor to rule its recurrence.

      Reply
        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          Infection of the vagina or may be higher up, that is the uterus.
          If you have any swelling or pain down there or any itching or rashes in your groin region, there are chances that it’s an infection.

          Reply
      1. Rozario

        I had sex with my girlfriend….sep 3rd…yesterdat
        Y she got brown bleeding stomach is pain…we used condom is that any problem??

        Reply
  12. Christina

    I am 19 and I have been having dark brown discharge and brown specks ever since having sex over a week ago. It isn’t itchy and doesn’t hurt, but I was expecting it to go away by now. Is this concerning/should I go see a doctor about this, or is it common? My period isn’t supposed to come for another 11 days.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This may happen in normal circumstances. The discharge sounds normal, not giving you any trouble. However, it shoud go in another 3 to 4 days. If not, you need to see a doctor for examination.

      Reply
        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          If it doesn’t go, you need to see a gyne for physical examination.

          As you may read above, there are various causes for having a brownish discharge. It may be some trauma, infection or even malignancy.

          Reply
  13. Anna

    I have had a brown vaginal discharge for about 2 weeks starting shortly after my last period. There are no other symptoms accompanying the discharge. I had 1 sexual partner before my last period. The discharge ranges from light to heavy. Because there are no other symptoms a bit confused. I am 22 years old.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Since you have no other disturbing symptom, it’s likely to be a normal discharge, a part of the cleaning process done by the vagina from time to time.

      However, if this happens again or if you develop any other symptom, you need to get examined.

      Reply
  14. Lesly

    Hi, I am 21 years old. My period date was supposed to be on 1st of every month. I missed my period and instead getting brown discharge from vagina. I haven’t had any sort of intercourse. What can be the cause for this?

    Reply
  15. Jane

    I just had my period and it was light. I am 47; so, I wasn’t concerned; however, I am having a brown watery discharge that is very smell for the past 2days. I am not having any other abnormal pain; but, the stench is aweful. My Dr. can’t see me for 2 weeks. Is this something that needs immediate care? What is it?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      You need to be examined for diagnosis. It’s not an emergency. So, you may wait till two weeks.

      This may be a mild infection or else the discharge may be coming from some growth inside the uterus.

      Reply
  16. Katy

    my period is very irregular and i have mild PCOS. I noticed this year after I have my period about two weeks or a week and half, there’s always like brown watery discharge. It’s very little and usually happens when I wake up in the morning after I pee and wipe. I don’t have any other symptoms, I checked STDs and BV and they came back normal. Had my pap smears also. It is normal to have little brown watery discharge two weeks after period?

    Reply
  17. Mimi

    I am on the contraceptive Evra patch, and yesterday when I went to change patches, I realised it was hanging off on one corner. Now, the next day, I am having dark brown discharge, no odour or pain… I am 19 days into my cycle. What could be causing this?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This may happen when you’re on contraceptive therapy. It’s common.

      Continue with your therapy. Do inform your health care provider about the discharge.

      Reply
  18. Telicia

    Hi, since May I have been getting my period every two weeks. Not normal at all for me. The last two weeks I have been spotting bright red blood with dark brown the last week. I used a mirror and looked down there and noticed some protrusion coming out of my vagina. I have no severe pain just some cramping. 7 months ago I did have some polyps removed. Also I have always had very heavy menstrual cycles. I also have a history with cysts on the ovaries. I am very scared and don’t know what to do for my appointment isn’t until 2 weeks from now. I am 39 and have a family history of uterine cancer. Please give me some advice. I’m really scared

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      You need to be examined for diagnosis.

      However, this is unlikely to be something malignant.

      Reply
  19. Claudia

    I had intercourse once w/o condom but pulled out.
    2-3 days after that I’ve been noticing light brown discharge but no smell or itching. What could be the cause?
    FYI I took the emergency contraceptive pills 1 month before but had an early Menses on the 1st of this month so it is unlikely to be menses.

    Reply
  20. totlyn bowman

    I’m fifty three years and over a year since menopause, i went to the bathroom to pass my urine and I saw this brownish spot after doing so I’m concerned, this has never happened to me so I’m wondering if it’s serious no odor nothing. That’s smelly I don’t have to wear a pad or panty sheild is only when I go pass my urine.

    Reply
  21. K

    Hi. I had my first sexual intercourse yesterday July 19,2017. I bled a little and now July 20, 2017 I am having a light brown discharge that is smelly. Is this normal or is this an infection? I am really worried. We did not used a condom but he did withdrawal. What is it? When will it stop?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Most likely, normal discharge. Since this was your first time, the bleeding may be due to friction during the act. The brown discharge that follows is due to regular cleaning of the vaginal canal.

      Reply
      1. M

        Will I get pregnant if my period started on july 10 until july 15 and I had unprotected sex on July 19? We did withdrawal method and it was my first time.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          Yes you can get pregnant. Sperm lives for a few days and after your period you are pretty fertile. Every woman is different, but im preg with my 4th, and i got pregnant after my period and we used the pull out method every time. Not trying to scare you but it could happen. If you dont want to end up pregnant, then condoms or birth control should always be used. Also to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Please be smart if you are going to continue to be sexually active!!!

          Reply
        2. Buddy M.D. Post author

          Though the act was done within the safe periods, it cannot be assured that you’re not pregnant.

          Better to go for a pregnancy test 15 days after the act to be sure.

          Reply
  22. Anonymous

    Hello. I am almost 8 weeks pregnant with my 4th baby. I am 31 years old. For the past few days i have had a light brown (beige colored) and yellowish discharge with a strong odor. No pain or itching. Today it was a little heavier than usual, but i did have a vaginal exam 2 days ago. My OB said she tested for Bacterial Vaginosis as well as other infections, and she noticed a yellowish discharge as well. I had BV with a previous pregnancy but i cant remember the symptoms. It will be a few days for the test results to get back, but im worried. What could this be?

    Reply
  23. leah

    My name is Leah. I am 33 years old. For the past few months, I had a problem during intercourse. I was bleeding and I thought it was the birth control and I left it. After 3 months, I was fine but now I have a light brown discharge coming out on my vagina. No smell but itch. Is this serious or what is the cause?

    Reply
  24. Confidence

    I’m experiencing a rash and brownish discharge but with no smell, after one week having sex with my partner.

    Reply
  25. Annoymous

    My husband and I have been ttc for 7 months with little luck. My cycle is 28 days, always arrives on time and is pretty heavy. Last month my period arrived 2 days early was very light and only lasted 2 days. This month my period was due yesterday (Sat) but 4 days prior I started having a brown discharge when I wiped. Today is Sunday still no period but I still have the discharge when I wipe. I took a pregnancy test on last Thursday morning (3days ago) and it came back negative. What could the cause be? It’s not painful or foul smelling.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This looks like an infection. Try anti fungal treatment at the earliest. Candid-V ointment may be used, as directed on its label.

      Let us know if it improves.

      Reply
      1. Bukky

        I am 20 years old I have been treated of an infection resulting from toilet disease, after a year I began to have irregular discharge and it’s whitish in color no pain associated. I went for check up and I was treated for Std, and have never had intercourse before. It’s been two weeks, I finished my menses now I still have brown discharge from light to thick brown with slight abdominal pain, not itchy. What could be happening?

        Reply
          1. Bukky

            I don’t take medicine, I don’t like it. I don’t know the STD I have, I was just treated for STD. Since I was treated for a bacterial infection as a result of the toilet disease I had in past I thought it’s the same infection that resulted in STD.

          2. Buddy M.D. Post author

            Since you have slight pain with the brown discharge, it’s very likely to be an infection. This may not be the same bug as before. It’s very likely to be different this time.

            The older bug must have been killed by the previous course of medicines.

            You need to take appropriate antibiotics to get this treated.

  26. Sara

    I have been on birth control for about two months. Since mid July I’ve been experiencing vaginal itching and dryness. I had sex for the first time 10 days ago. 2 days ago I had yellow discharge with bad odour. Yesterday and today I’ve been having brown discharge with no smell. I’ve never missed a pill. Is there a chance that I’m pregnant or is it more likely to be an infection of sorts?

    Reply
  27. anonymous

    I lost my virginity a week+ ago and I’m having brown/pinkish discharge for two days now. I am supposed to take my placebo pills the day after tomorrow. Could this be implantation bleeding? Please help I’m only 17 and I’m so stressed.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Unlikely to be pregnancy. You may get such bleeds weeks after first time sex.

      However, better go for a pregnancy test to be sure.

      Reply
  28. Abigail

    Hi, I’ve been having this brown discharge, I see it after I clean up after I pee. I used a contraceptive pill and I have not had a single spotting. I’m also expecting my period but have not seen it. I’m almost a week late concerning my period. Please help

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This may happen when on contraceptive pills. Nothing to worry.

      You need to speak to your health care provider about this. Tell her the name of the prescribed pill, and she may help.

      Reply
  29. Brooke

    I had my period about 2 weeks early, which never happens since I’m on the pill. The day after my period stopped I started to get a very dark brown discharge. The next day I still have the discharge and now my inner vagina lips are swollen and red. There is also a bad burning sensation. There’s no odor to the discharge. I’ve been with the same guy for a year now and this is the first time this has happened. Please help!

    Reply
  30. Linda Connors.

    I’m 53 years old had brown spotting about six months ago went to my ob gyn she said we will watch it. I had a D and C and novasure procedure done about five years ago due to hemorraging. I have a positive 16 or 18. One positive one negative. The brown discharge is back. The pain in my back is horrible and the period cramps for lack of a better description is bad. I’m now nauseous every time I eat. I’m so tired I can only stay awake 4-5 hours without a nap. There is an odor. I go faithfully every six months for my Pap smear. I’ve not been feeling right. Very cranky and emotional. I’m calling my doctor in the morning but I’m scared to death. When they did the D and C there were cells that are known to lead to cancer. I’m scared, confused and overwhelmed. Haven’t had a period since my D and C and novasure.

    Reply
  31. Renee

    34 years old . Had d&c 08/18/2017 for missed abortion
    Would have been my 8th child. Prior to pregnancy and d&c had fishy odor ..wasnt checked just given metro and told bv..smell would go away but come back.also period sometimes twice in a month after d&c bled lightly for couple weeks noticed smell was back . 4 weeks post d&c after intercourse noticed brown discharge when I wiped , was pink at first then next day brown..panicking I may have std,PID or something else serious..no fever feel well..except when the bleeding started felt nauseated and a little off balance but subsided quickly. 4 days after d&c still had a dark positive PT after seeing discharge checked and have a very very faint positive …really concerned

    Reply
  32. Latifah

    Hi lately I have noticed that my urine have a dark yellow color but I usually have a low intake of fluid and I recently noticed that after having sex my discharge have a brownish color and a foul smell I am 20 years of age…What can be the causes and how can I treat it ?

    Reply
        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          You may be having a mild urinary infection.

          Drink plenty of water and fruit juices throughout the day. This would help in washing off the infection from the urinary tract.

          If it doesn’t improve in 3 to 4 days, you need to see a doctor. Antibiotics may be required.

          Reply
  33. S

    Hi I am 23 years old and had (unprotected) sex last night. It wasn’t painful during but about 5mins after sex I started to get a strong burning feeling down there and a bit of swelling too. It has subsided the morning after but throughout the night I had quite a bit of thin, dark brown, odourless discharge. This is still continuing… What could this be?? It doesn’t sting to pee and I’m not due for my period.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Likely to be due to roughness during the act. You may use a lubricating jelly next time.

      For now, wash the region with ample water and apply any vaginal emollient over the affected area. Leave it undisturbed. Likely to recover by itself in a day or two.

      Reply
      1. MO

        I am 40 years old, married with one child. Husband had a vasectomy years ago so we don’t use birth control. My period has been regular for years. Most months, I have slight brown discharge for a day or two at the end of my period. This month, it’s been ongoing for nearly 3 weeks and smells awful. It was worse after sex and when going to the bathroom. I was going to call the dr today because I was so worried as this is completely abnormal for me. This morning I was Lying in bed googling “smelly brown discharge” for the 100th time trying to figure out what it could be. I came across another forum with dozens of women with the same symptoms and almost all had the same outcome….. a “lost” tampon. I laid in bed thinking there is NO WAY thats what it is. I’ve had sex several times. I am very small down there and sex is typically super tight for lack of a better description. But I thought, hey what could it hurt. While my husband slept, I tiptoed into the bathroom, propped my foot up on the tub to get as much access as possible, and I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT when I felt A string waaaaaay up and pulled out an old tampon. I am sitting here shocked still because I simply am mortified and stunned that this happened. 25+ years of menstruation and never had anything like this ever happened nor would I have even thought to chveck had others not been writing about it. So I post this here for anyone that has similar symptoms …. the answer (although disgusting!!!!) may be super easy to figure out!!!!

        Reply

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