Woman laying down with a hand on her belly

Although it may look daunting, brown discharge usually isn’t anything to worry about.

Brown discharge is vaginal mucus saturated in old blood, as such, it’s usually a darker brown colour. As long as your discharge isn’t carrying a strong, bad odour, you most likely have nothing to worry about.

When am I most likely to experience brown discharge?

You can experience brown discharge at any age. It’s more commonly experienced when you’re on a form of birth control, pregnant or sexually active. Even if any of these things aren’t relevant for you, you will probably still experience brown discharge at least once in your life, so don’t be alarmed when the time comes!

Brown discharge, or spotting, can quite often occur after your period. It’ll usually last for roughly two days, but may come at any point throughout your cycle, for any duration of time. The consistency of your discharge could range from being thick and dark, to light and slightly discoloured. This is completely normal and is just the remaining old blood that never completely left your uterus from a previous period. For more information, check out our article on spotting between periods.

Can brown discharge come from something else though?

The colour of your discharge can be linked to several factors. Although being completely normal, brown discharge (unless accompanied by other symptoms or lasting more than 3 days) is rarely linked to anything alarming or worth worrying about. If you are worried, please talk to your GP. 

Here are just some of the reasons you may be experiencing this: 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS):

PCOS  is an extremely common syndrome that affects the function of the ovaries. PCOS has multiple visual symptoms, one of which is brown discharge. Brown vaginal discharge, accompanied by other symptoms like unpredictable or irregular periods, excessive body hair or acne, may mean you should get checked by a GP for PCOS.

Birth control implant:

When on birth control, your body goes through a process of becoming accustomed to the change in levels of hormones being produced. When changing or starting birth control, you may notice spotting or brown discharge for a brief period of time. Experiencing brown discharge through this hormonal change is completely normal and rarely anything to be concerned about.

Perimenopause:

Perimenopause refers to the state of having no period for a minimum of 12 months. During this time, there may be changes within the consistency, colour and texture of your discharge. If you think you may be going through it, we’ve got a good quick read on the perimenopause which may help you understand your symptoms.

Pregnancy:

During pregnancy, there are multiple reasons for brown vaginal discharge – one of those being implantation bleeding. Implantation bleeding within the first 4 weeks isn’t unheard of, nor is it anything to worry about.

Although it may seem alarming, most of the time there is no reason to worry about bleeding or discharge during pregnancy. However, if you are concerned about any of your symptoms, please do get in contact with your GP for further information

Sexually Transmitted Infection:

Visible brown discharge before you start your period, along with other symptoms, could potentially be an indicator of an STI such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea. If you experience a burning sensation when urinating, strong smelling or discoloured discharge or pain during sex, please visit your local sexual health clinic. Please remember to discuss protection, as well as safe sex, with your partner. 

If you are concerned your discharge may be linked to any of the above, always get in contact with your GP to discuss further.

Medical disclaimer

The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, it is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.

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