When Should I Worry About Reddish Brown Discharge?

Vaginal discharge is usually nothing serious; in fact, it's a healthy occurrence in many cases. A vaginal discharge is basically the excess fluid and mucus products by the cervix and your vaginal walls. It's your body's way of getting rid of any unhealthy organisms from the vagina. What you should bear in mind is that normal vaginal discharge is usually quite clear and creamy – the color is slightly yellow with no unpleasant smell. The volume of your vaginal discharge may not remain the same on different days of your menstrual cycle. Many women notice reddish brown discharge and want to know if it is a normal occurrence or not. Keep reading to learn more about it.

Is Reddish Brown Discharge Normal?

1.      Normal Vaginal Discharge or Ovulation

You may notice a change in your normal vaginal discharge for many different reasons. For instance, you may not have to worry about brown discharge if it happens right after period – it is old blood and your vagina discharges it to clean itself. Discharging reddish brown discharge can also indicate that you're ovulating and a brownish discharge is also common early in pregnancy.

Here are some more causes of noticing reddish brown discharge:

2.       Pregnancy

As mentioned, you may be pregnant if you miss your period and only notice spotting at the time of your normal period. This usually happens due to a change in hormones. Uterine lining may also shed during early pregnancy and result in brownish discharge. It is usually nothing to worry about, but you should go see your doctor if you're already pregnant and notice reddish brown discharge for 4-6 days. In some cases, it may indicate a miscarriage.

3.       Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

It refers to an infection the upper genital tract, which includes your fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries. A bacterial infection is the most common cause of PID. These bacteria could be the same that are responsible for causing sexually transmitted diseases, such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea.

4.       Menopause

Menopause refers to a stage in which women will stop experience menstrual periods. It means a woman is no longer fertile after menopause. Usually, a woman reaches this stage between 45 and 55 years of age, and that's when her reproductive system changes enough to discontinue estrogen production. This hormonal disturbance may lead to the appearance of reddish brown discharge.

5.       Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Reddish brown discharge may appear when you have a sexually transmitted disease, such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or genital warts. These diseases can affect uterine lining, which will result in an unusual discharge. Treating STD will help stop that discharge.

6.       Hormonal Changes from Contraception

If you're using contraception, this could cause the production of reddish brown discharge. This may happen while using IUDs, birth control pills, and other types of hormonal contraception. Hormonal contraceptives can affect the uterine lining, which will cause unexpected discharge during menstrual cycle. The discharge won't last for days because hormonal contraception can only lead to the shedding of a very limited area of uterine lining.

7.       Cervical Cancer

In rare conditions, your reddish brown discharge indicates cervical cancer. Abnormal cervical cell changes don't usually cause any symptoms, but you may notice certain symptoms when you have cancerous cells growing in that area. Some of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer are pain during sex, pain in the lower belly, vaginal discharge that is not common, and bleeding from the vagina between menstrual periods.

It is therefore a good idea to have a Pap test done as part of your regular pelvic exam to ensure your cervical cells aren't changing abnormally. A Pap test will help identify abnormal changes, and your doctor will then order other tests to confirm the underlying cause of this abnormal change. They may also order a biopsy that involves taking a sample of tissue to confirm if you have cervical cancer or not.

When to Worry About the Discharge

In short, you can find so many different reasons behind your reddish brown discharge, but it is not always a bad thing. You should go see your doctor if you notice certain signs such as constant, increased vaginal discharge, changes in consistency of vaginal discharge, and changes in color or amount. Also, consult with your doctor if you notice the following signs with a vaginal discharge:

  • You feel discomfort, itching, odor, etc.
  • You develop a rash
  • You notice vaginal burning while urinating
  • You have cottage cheese-like discharge
  • You notice blood when it's not your period time

If you have vaginal discharge with these signs and symptoms, you should contact your doctor to rule out the possibility of having some serious underlying infection.