What Are the Common Causes of Brown Vaginal Discharge?

An incomplete or irregular period is the most common cause of brown vaginal discharge.
Sexually transmitted diseases can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and accompanying brown vaginal discharge.
Brown vaginal discharge accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue can sometimes indicate uterine or cervical cancer.
Any unusual discharge should be investigated by a medical professional.
Article Details
  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Brown vaginal discharge most commonly signals old tissue or blood, which is usually left over from menses or due to irregular cycles. Sometimes this symptom can be a sign of endometrial cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, and occasionally, sexually transmitted diseases. Brown or bloody discharge may also be more common in women who are going through menopause.

The most common cause of brown vaginal discharge is an irregular or incomplete period. Older blood usually has a brown tint to it and can be caused by a number of things. Sometimes menstrual tissues or blood simply take longer to exit the body, while in other cases a hormonal imbalance may lead to slight bleeding between periods. It is also considered normal to have brownish spotting right before and directly after a normal period.

In some cases, pelvic inflammatory disease may also lead to brown vaginal discharge. This is a condition in which the uterus becomes infected with bacteria. It can be caused by a variety of conditions, including an incomplete miscarriage, the use of an intrauterine device, and sexually transmitted diseases. Most times it is fully treatable if caught early, although it may cause long-term damage to the reproductive organs if not treated in time.

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Sometimes sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhea may cause brown vaginal discharge, although this is more rare. In this case it may be due to irritation and bleeding in the reproductive tract, or from the infection itself. Both conditions are treatable once detected.

Rarely, brown vaginal discharge may be caused by uterine or cervical cancer. Many times, additional symptoms are present by this stage. These may include abdominal pain, digestive upset, and fatigue. Gynecological cancers may be treated successfully when caught early, although in many cases they are life-threatening.

Any unusual vaginal discharge should be investigated by a trained medical professional. Although it is usually benign and easily treated, sometimes it can signal a serious medical condition. This is especially important if other symptoms are present. Things to look out for are abdominal pain, bleeding between periods, vaginal irritation, itching, pain when urinating, yellow or green vaginal discharge, lesions on the genitals, a foul odor, and sometimes digestive discomfort.

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serenesurface
Post 3

Brown vaginal discharge can also be implantation bleeding that occurs when the fetus implants in the uterus. Sometimes the blood is a bit dark.

It can also be the menstrual cycle sorting itself out after a pregnancy is over. I've experienced both of these.

SteamLouis
Post 2

@fify-- I'm the same way. I asked my doctor about it and she said that it's normal.

Like the article said, it's just old blood finding its way out. While the blood waits, it changes into a dark brown color, probably because of oxidation. Unless you have other symptoms, don't worry about it.

If you start getting dark vaginal discharge at other times of the month, or if you have pain while urinating or having sex, or a bad odor, then you need to see a doctor.

fify
Post 1

I always get dark brown vaginal discharge after my period is over. Sometimes I get it just a few days later, but there have been times when I had it one week after my period. This is absolutely normal right?

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