Brown discharge. Why is it brown?

Brown discharge. Why is it brown?
October 11 18:34 2016

Expecting mothers often worry about all the different changes they go through during pregnancy, especially the events that seem abnormal to them. One thing that often sends women running to their doctor or midwife is vaginal discharge during pregnancy, especially when the discharge is brown in color. In as much as this brown discharge does not mean anything in the majority of cases, its okay that women consult whenever they experience it, that way their minds are put back at ease when it is confirmed that nothing is wrong, in the event that there is something going on it becomes easier to take charge and manage the problem early.


But why is there discharge and why is it brown?

Discharge through the vagina is a normal phenomenon in women, it is through this discharge that we are able to tell and follow what’s going on in the reproductive region, for example cervical mucus can tell us when ovulation happens and it can notify us of a growing pregnancy. Discharge during pregnancy is also a normal phenomenon, in most cases the discharge is a thin, colorless or whitish substance known as leucorrhea. However, the discharge can change colors from time to time, it does not necessarily mean something is wrong.

When you are pregnant, there is a lot going on inside you, including some massive hormonal changes that tend to have an effect on the amount, color, and consistency of your discharge. Brown discharge during pregnancy causes many women to worry because it closely looks like blood but in the majority of cases there is nothing to worry about, it is just normal discharge in a slightly different color than usual.

The brown discharge is mostly your normal discharge but tainted by old blood that was supposed to come out some time ago but for some reason decided to stick around. Sometimes the blood in your uterus that is supposed to come out during your period takes longer to come out, as it grows older in the uterus, it changes color and turns brown. Eventually it comes out together with the normal discharge, discoloring the discharge into a brownish color that you will see.


What does the brown discharge mean to your pregnancy?

If you are experiencing brown discharge during your pregnancy you should not panic or worry, it not good for the little one growing inside of you, especially since the discharge does not mean something is wrong and is in most cases harmless. It is probably left over blood from on of your period as mention above.

If not then the other common cause of the brown discharge is irritation. The increase in levels of pregnancy hormones makes the cervix rather sensitive by increasing the blood flow and circulation around the cervix region. As a result, any manipulation of the cervix can lead to irritation and brown discharge is seen later. The manipulation mostly related to this phenomenon is sexual intercourse and or a pelvic exam. So if you had sexual intercourse in the days leading to a brown discharge its most likely as result of the irritation of your cervix and there is nothing to worry about concerning your pregnancy.

Brown discharge that occurs in early pregnancy can be a result of implantation. Implantation bleeding occurs when the zygote is being planted in the uterus wall. The bleeding might take a while to be expelled out of the uterus through the vagina, when this delay happens the blood will age in the uterus thereby becoming brown in color. If at anytime the bleeding becomes pronounced you should consult a doctor immediately.

For women who are almost at the end of their pregnancy term, a brown discharge could be a symptom of labor. This is what happens: Some weeks before you are due to give birth, the layer of mucus that plugs the opening of the cervix throughout pregnancy peals off in preparation for birth. As a result, just days before labor begins you will notice bloody like brown discharge, which is regarded as a sign that the little one is ready to come out and meet the world. If you are still a couple of weeks away from your due date and experience pink or bloody like discharge then you should consult with your doctor or midwife without wasting too much time.


Complications related to brown discharge during pregnancy

Sometimes, although very rare, a brown discharge during pregnancy could be a sign of something abnormal happening or about to happen. 

  • Miscarriage

Brown discharge during pregnancy can be in rare cases a sign that a miscarriage is about to happen. When a miscarriage is happening, the uterus detaches the fetus from its lining and it its expelled through the vagina. When this is beginning to happen, it can cause small bleeding to happen which is evidenced by the brown discharge.


  • Molar Pregnancy

Molar pregnancy is a rare condition in which the cells of an embryo are not developing properly; mostly the cells concerned are the ones responsible for the formation of the placenta. This can be a major reason for brown discharge during pregnancy. Molar pregnancy should be tested and treated with minimum delay.


  • Ectopic Pregnancy

When an egg or ovule meets with sperm outside of the uterus and fertilization occurs, the fertilized egg might not make it to the uterus and results in the embryo implanting outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tubes. This alone can cause brown discharge during pregnancy to occur, which can be helpful as ectopic pregnancies are supposed to be removed as early as possible.


  • Placental Abnormalities

There are some placental abnormalities that are announced by the discharge of brown like substance. Conditions like placenta abruption or placenta previa are rare but real in pregnant women. Placenta abruption comes with severe pain in addition to the discharge. Placenta previa on the other hand presents with painless vaginal bleeding.

Since In placenta previa, the cervical opening can be covered by the placenta itself, the bleeding can be prevented from escaping into the vagina early there by leading to the aging of the blood, hence the brown discharge that is observed later.


On the other hand placenta abruption occurs due to pre-mature separation of the placenta from the uterus. The resulting bleeding is heavy but occasional brown spotting can be noticed.


  • Genital HPV

Brown discharge during pregnancy could be an announcing symptom of the genital HPV. Genital HPV happens as a result of an increase in the production of estrogen and increased blood flow and circulation to the vagina.


  • Infections

Infections of the cervix and vagina can bring about brown discharge. If you get an infection during pregnancy you will notice a brown discharge that misleads you to think its coming form the pregnancy and yet it’s because of an infection in the vagina, cervix or both. In most cases STI screening should be done as early as possible so it can be treated and protect the baby from contracting the infection.


So as you can see, it is rare but sometimes, brown discharge during pregnancy could be a sign of a medical condition. If you notice the brown discharge changing color to red or grey, accompanied with cramping, abdominal tenderness, uterine contractions and back pain you should get in tough with you’re your doctor or midwife immediately.

Remember, whether you are pregnant or not, brown discharge associated with other symptoms can be a sign of a problem; you should not delay consulting qualified personnel.



  Article "tagged" as: