Most women for one reason or the other experience light brown discharge. This can be before or after period, after sex or during pregnancy. Abnormal vaginal discharge can be a sign of a number of causes. For that reason, urgent and proper medical diagnosis is required to identify and treat the underlying cause of the discharge.
Causes of light brown discharge
An abnormal dark or light brown discharge can be a sign of different underlying condition. Some causes of the discharge are serious and if left untreated can be life threatening. Some are normal and can clear with or without medical treatment.
Regular medical checkups may help identify some of the causes at an early stage, therefore, reduce the chance of future complication. Vaginal discharge is normal for all women. It is often clear or white sticky secretions produced by small glands in the lining of the vagina and the cervix.
So what cause brown discharge? Brown discharge is an abnormal discharge. It is a mixture of blood remains and vaginal discharge. It is the presence of blood in the discharge that gives light brown discharge. It is common for vaginal discharge to vary in color. For most people, the color will often vary from pink to brown.
The color of the discharge will, therefore, depend on the type of blood cells in the discharge. Fresh blood cells will give a pink discharge whereas old blood will give a brown or light brown discharge. This discharge is also not as heavy as your period, it can also occur at different times. It could occur before period, between period, during periods, after period or during pregnancy.
Common causes of the discharge can include any of the following:
1. Implantation bleeding
Also called implantation spotting, this is a small amount of vaginal bleeding that can occur some days after conception.
Implantation bleeding may be lighter in color and flow than a period. It is normal and can stop without treatment. If how you bleed a lot, have a doctor look at it as soon as possible.
2. Atrophic vaginitis
Atrophic vaginitis is the other possible cause of the brown bleeding. Also known as vaginal atrophy, it is an inflammation of the vagina. The inflammation is caused by thinning and shrinking of the tissues. Or some women, it can be caused by decreased lubrication. All these symptoms are caused due to lack of the reproductive hormone estrogen.
3. Uterine polyps
These are growth attached to the inner wall of the uterus that extends into the uterine cavity. It is the overgrowth of the cells in the lining of the uterus that lead to the formation of the uterine polyps.
Urgent treatment for these growths is required. Though most are non-cancerous, some may be cancerous or may turn into cancerous growth. Uterine polyps can be shown by the following symptoms:
- Irregular menstrual bleeding
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Bleeding after, before and after menstrual periods
- Heavy menstrual periods
4. Vaginal infection
A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection. This infection is known to causes itching, irritation and the inflammation of the vagina. According to Mayo clinic staff, vaginal infection affects up to 3 to 4 women at some point in the lifetime.
It is not a sexually transmitted infection but the fungus can spread through the mouth and genital contact.
5. Hormonal imbalance
Fluctuation in the levels of estrogen and progesterone is the other likely cause of abnormal virginal bleeding. The hormonal imbalance causing the spotting can be as a result of:
- Dysfunctional ovaries
- Thyroid glands problems
- Or as a result of changing, starting or stopping a hormonal birth control pills
Pregnancy or pregnancy related complication is the other possible cause of a light brown discharge. For most women, both a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy can cause bleeding.
Spotting during pregnancy does not necessarily mean you are having a miscarriage. An urgent medical checkup is however required to try and prevent any complications that might occur.
The bleeding or spotting could also be a sign that you are about to hit menopause. At this stage, a woman stops having a normal menstruation cycle. It can be shown by the following symptoms:
- Irregular menstruation
- Unexplained mood changes
- Vaginal and bladder problems
- Decreasing fertility
- Change in cholesterol level among others
Light brown mucus discharge
As shown, there are different caused of abnormal vaginal discharge. The color, texture r thickness of the discharge will vary depending on what the underlying cause of the discharge is.
A light brown mucus discharge is common, especially during pregnancy. In such case, the discharge is more likely to be a mucus plug. At the beginning of a pregnancy, some mucus (generated during ovulation) may accumulate in the uterine cervix. The mucus tightens to seal the cervix. This helps block infection from the vagina to the cervix thus protecting the fetus.
The mucus plug is formed from the secretion of the cervical gland. Cervical secretion is supported by a high level of estrogen and progestin. These hormones are responsible for fetal development. During pregnancy, mucus discharge can be a sign that something is not right. Urgent medical attention is required.
Before labor starts, a hormonal balance may shift. The number of estrogen increases compared to the quantity of gestagen. At such a point, the fetal development process is considered complete thus it is canceled. Under the influence of estrogen hormone, the plug gets thin and passes out as mucus discharge.
A mucus discharge during pregnancy can be a sign that labor is about to start. Though it is common for most women, sometimes the mucus discharge may come out before labor.
A mucus discharge during pregnancy may be accompanied by symptoms such as mild to severe itching, abdominal pains. For other women, the discharge can be painless and imperceptible.
Light brown discharge before period
It is very common for some females to experience a light brown discharge before period. If you experience this more often, you may need to have your doctor check it out as soon as possible. An abnormal discharge before your period can be a sign of hormonal imbalance. This is especially true for those using different types of hormonal birth control methods.
The light discharge could also be a sign of Perimenopause. This is a transition period women go through before menopause. Menopause is a normal condition in the life cycle of a woman. It is a period marked the end of the reproductive period of a woman. It occurs when ovaries no longer release an egg every month (ovulation)
Some of the causes of early menopause might include genetic disorder, lifestyle factors such as smoking, and chromosome defects. When the cause of light brown vaginal discharge is early menopause or perimenopause, you will expect other symptoms such as:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Spotting before or after periods
- Abnormal long periods
- Periods after years of no bleeding
A brown discharge can also be a result of shading the Old endometrial tissue.The endometrium is a mucous membrane that lines the uterus. It thickens so that a fertilized egg can attach itself. If pregnancy fails to occur, or as a result of using hormonal contraceptives, the lining may disintegrate and is thrown out of the body in form of menstrual blood.
Endometrium tissue have different layers that are completely shade during menstruation. If that fails to happen, the remaining part of the lining may be shed late on as brown discharge. The color of that discharge will depend on the duration the lining lasts in your uterus. The shading can occur after period or before the next period.
Brown discharge after periods
Vaginal discharge is normal for most women. It is common and can occur at any point of your menstrual cycle. An abnormal light brown discharge can occur before your period, between periods or after your periods.
For most women, this kind of abnormal bleeding if often accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, irritation and may be inflammation. In most cases the discharge is considered normal. In such cases, no treatment is required. If the discharge however persist for more than three days after your period, then you will need to consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Light brown discharge instead of period
Vaginal discharge is common for most women. In such case, the discharge is known as menstruation. It is a normal process in which a woman discharges blood and other materials form the lining of the uterus. The process occur monthly at intervals of 28 days. It occur from puberty till menopause with only exception when the woman is pregnant.
Normal period is thick and only last for around three days. A light brown discharge instead of period can be considered as an abnormal virginal discharge. A woman may have this kind of discharge due to a different causes. If the normal abnormal discharge occurs often, it might be a sign that something is wrong. In such case, urgent medical attention may be required.
Hormonal imbalance is often the main cause abnormal discharge. From puberty to menopause, your hormones are constantly fluctuating. This is the normal part of growth. All this hormones have different function but are all interrelated. Estrogen and progesterone are responsible for mentation. A fluctuation in these hormones may lead to abnormal discharge before, during or after periods.
An abnormal brown discharge can also be a sign of a vaginal infection. A common such infection is a vaginal yeast infection. This is a common vaginal infection known to cause itching, irritation, abnormal discharge and other symptoms. According to Mayo clinic, this is a type of vaginitis or inflammation of the vagina. It is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, the fungus can however be transmitted mouth to genital contact. The type of medical treatment used will depend on how long or recurrent the infection is.
Light brown discharge after intercourse
Light brown discharge after intercourse or during sex can be embarrassing especially if you don’t known what is causing it. Though rare, it is not uncommon form some women to notice some colored spots after sex. This is easily noticed when urinating after sex.
Abnormal discharge after intercourse can be as a result of:
- Having sex for the first time. This can be as a result of tearing or breaking of the hymen.
- Vaginal tear due to rough intercourse or having multiple male partners
- This could also happen when having sex some weeks into your pregnancy
- Cervical dysplasia which is a precancerous change of the epithelial cells can also result in light bleeding after intercourse
- Inflammations and irritation of the endometrial cells cold also be the cause of the light brown discharge seen after periods
- The discharge can also be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection.
- Vaginal yeast infection
- Bleeding cervical and uterine polyps
Light brown discharge during pregnancy
Any form of bleeding or discharge t any point during pregnancy can be scary right? This is however not true for most of the vaginal discharge. The bleeding can be caused by different reasons. It could also be a sign of an underlying complication.
Here are some possible causes of a light brown discharge during pregnancy.
1. Ectopic pregnancy
A light brown discharge can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy. This is a type of pregnancy disorder where the pregnancy occurs outside of the uterus. In such cases, the pregnancy often occurs in the fallopian tube.
Though rare, it is not uncommon for this form of pregnancy to occur. The brown discharge is often because of old blood being discharged from the vaginal. Ectopic pregnancy is a life threatening condition. Urgent and proper medical attention is required.
When the cause of the discharge is an ectopic pregnancy, the brown discharge will be accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- Lightheadedness and fainting
- Pelvic pain that comes and goes
An abnormal brown discharge can also be an early sign of a miscarriage. In such cases, the bleeding will be accompanied by other symptoms such as: cramping, lower back pain, bright red bleeding, watering discharge and abdominal back pain.
3. Mucus plug
If the discharge occur some few week before your labor, then you may be losing your mucus plug. This often occurs anywhere between 36th and 40th week of pregnancy.
All this is controlled by hormones. As your body prepares to go into labor, it’s normal for the cervix to soften and release the mucus plug.
4. Implantation bleeding
Implantation bleeding is also a common cause of light or dark brown discharge during pregnancy. Around the 4 or 6 weeks of pregnancy, the abnormal discharge can be cause by implantation bleeding which occurs when a fertilized embryo burrows into the highly vascular lining of the uterus.
This is quite normal for most women. If the discharge however continues for more than a day, urgent medical checkup may be required. Have you gynecologist examine you to identify what the underlying cause of the bleeding might be.
5. Cervical irritation
The human cervix is highly vascular. It opens and stretches during labor. The cervix has a lot of blood vessel which make it capable to bleed easily.
Different things can cause the cervix to become irritated during pregnancy which can be sown by a brown discharge. The irritation can occur at any point during your pregnancy. It could occur after sex, due to an infection or simply after a medical checkup.
Treatment and how to get rid of abnormal discharge
Some case of brown discharge can be normal thus not medical treatment is required. In other cases, the underlying cause of the abnormal discharge may be life threatening and as such urgent medical attention is required to try and remedy it.
For abnormal discharge especially during pregnancy, urgent medical treatment is required. Have your gynecologist examine the situation as soon as possible. Other cause of the discharge like implantation bleeding may occur for some time then clear without treatment.
When treating to get rid of an abnormal vaginal discharge, your healthcare provider will examine you to establish what the underlying cause of the bleeding is. Treatment therefore depend on what the underlying cause of the bleeding is.
- Antibiotics are often used when the cause of the abnormal discharge is an STD
- For perimenopause, the other symptoms accompanying the discharge are treated. this can be done using painkiller
- Medical procedures such as dilation and curettage are used when the cause of the brown discharge is due to polyps.
- For other conditions such as cervical cancer, treatment might include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Regardless of what the cause of the discharge is, have a doctor examine it, to prescribe early and proper treatment. This may also help prevent medical complication especially during pregnancy.
- Reasons you are spotting before period: https://www.buoyhealth.com/current/29-reasons-why-you-are-spotting-before-your-period/
- Causes of light brown vaginal discharge: http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Light-Brown-Discharge.html
- Light brown vaginal discharge: https://www.checkpregnancy.com/light-brown-discharge/
- Pinkish brown discharge during pregnancy: http://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pinkish-brown-discharge
- What is light brown discharge: http://www.women-info.com/en/light-brown-discharge/