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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.