You don’t have your period, but you see some color in your underwear. is that blood? download? both?
“discharge occurs when cells in the vagina slough or break off,” explains OB/GYN oluwatosin goje, md. it is a healthy and normal process, but sometimes you will notice changes in your vaginal discharge. while some of these changes can be easily explained, others signify health problems that are worth discussing with your doctor.
with brown discharge, it can be hard to tell. It could be a totally normal marker of the end of a recent menstrual cycle, or it could be something else, including a sign of a health problem.
is brown discharge normal?
When blood mixes with vaginal fluid, the result is a brown discharge. sometimes this is just a sign that your period has come to an end.
“Normal brown discharge occurs at the end of your menstrual cycle,” says Dr. goje says. “When a little bit is left over from menstruation, the body often biodegrades it so it doesn’t come out.” sometimes, though, something comes out of your vagina and into your underwear towards the end of your period, or even a day or two after it’s over.
But there are also other causes of brown blood-tinged discharge. she explains.
1. changes related to menopause
When you’re in menopause, a drop in estrogen can cause the walls of your vagina to become thin and brittle, a condition known as vaginal atrophy. your blood vessels shrink and you may experience some vaginal bleeding.
Think about what happens if you blow your nose in winter, when your skin is dry and cracked: When you remove the scarf from your face, you sometimes notice streaks of blood mixed with nasal mucus (the medical term for runny nose). ). “That’s kind of like what happens in the vagina during menopause,” says Dr. says goje.
If you’re in or nearing menopause and start experiencing a brown discharge, talk to your OB/GYN, who will want to make sure it’s really a vaginal discharge. “For menopausal patients, we always want to make sure there’s no blood coming out of the uterus, which can mean other problems,” she adds.
2. bacterial vaginosis
This common infection is usually associated with grayish discharge, but for some people, it may look brown, especially after it dries on underwear.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) discharge is caused by a bacterial imbalance in the vagina and is usually most noticeable during menstruation and after sexual intercourse. It’s almost always accompanied by a fishy odor, a key indicator that the bacteria are out of control there. “When the bacteria that cause bacterial vaginosis interact with blood or semen, it begins to flourish, causing it to smell bad,” says Dr. goje explains.
If you think you have bv, see your OB/GYN for a prescription pill or cream to help cure it.
Blood in your discharge could also be the result of trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection caused by a live parasite in your vagina and/or urethra. Just like a scratch on your skin can make you bleed a little, this parasite can also aggravate your insides.
“There’s an irritation going on there, and sometimes that irritation leads to blood stains,” says dr. gohe explains. “By the time the discharge comes out, it’s brown.”
Trichomoniasis can also cause white, yellow, or greenish, thin, or foamy discharge with a foul odor. Your doctor can test you for this common condition and write you a prescription that will kill the parasite.
Even a single drop of blood from the cervix or uterus can mix with vaginal fluid and create a brown discharge. And while it sounds scary, it’s not always a serious concern.
“The cervix is very fragile and can sometimes bleed a little,” says Dr. goje says. Spotting between periods is common in young women who have recently started menstruating. but it can happen to anyone.
In other cases, abnormal bleeding can mean a health problem, so if it starts to occur regularly (and especially if it’s accompanied by pain), it’s time to talk to your doctor.
when to call your doctor
The bottom line is that if you start experiencing a discharge you’ve never had before, it’s time to see your doctor, especially if:
- you frequently detect between periods or detect at an unusual rate and amount for you.
- Your spotting turns into heavy bleeding, especially if you have pelvic pain.
- You begin to notice changes in the color, texture, or odor of your discharge.
- Changes in discharge are combined with other symptoms such as pain or itching.
“Keep an eye on your monthly discharge so you know what’s normal for you,” says dr. goje advises.