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Brown discharge: harmless or symptom of a disease?

20 Jan, 2023

Brown discharge: harmless or symptom of a disease?

There is probably no woman who has never experienced brown vaginal discharge. Usually, the brown colour of the vaginal secretion is caused by old blood from the last menstruation. Therefore, there is usually no reason to worry.

However, occasionally the brown discharge can have a serious cause. It is therefore advisable not to ignore it completely and to make an appointment with your gynaecologist if necessary.

The most important facts about brown discharge at a glance

  • The brown colour of vaginal discharge usually indicates older blood.
  • Most of the time, the brown discharge has a harmless cause, such as residual menstrual blood.
  • If brown discharge occurs after menopause, women should contact their gynaecologist.
  • In combination with other symptoms, brown discharge can also indicate an infection.
  • If in doubt, women should consult their gynaecologist to be sure.

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Brown discharge is usually harmless

Occasional brown discharge is not a cause for concern for women. It is usually harmless spotting. The brown colour is an indication that the blood is somewhat older. This is because the blood, which is initially bright red, turns brown when it comes into contact with oxygen.

Brown discharge is often the remnants of menstrual blood

Occasionally, brown discharge can also occur at the beginning of pregnancy, after the egg has settled in the uterus. 
Some women also experience hormonal fluctuations due to excessive stress, which can sometimes cause brown discharge.

As long as the brown discharge only occurs from time to time and is not accompanied by any other symptoms, it is usually completely harmless and therefore does not require any further action.

Brown discharge: symptoms of a serious cause

If there are other symptoms besides brown discharge, it is possible that there is a serious cause. In this case, a timely visit to the gynaecologist is strongly recommended.

Possible symptoms that women should look out for include:

  • Itching in the genital area
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Pain and burning
  • Changes in the skin around the genital area
  • Fever

What causes brown discharge before and after menstruation?

It is perfectly normal for some brown discharge to come out of the vagina just before or immediately after menstruation. This is simply old blood being drained from the body.

The brown discharge is thus a sign that the body is cleansing itself. The brown colour is due to the blood oxidising through contact with oxygen. While fresh blood has a light red colour, old blood tends to be brown.

Is brown discharge normal during pregnancy?

It is not uncommon for pregnant women to experience brown vaginal discharge. For example, implantation bleeding can be a brownish colour. In addition, brown vaginal discharge can also occur from time to time during the first trimester.

There is usually no reason to worry until the brown discharge is very heavy or persistent. In this case, women should contact their gynaecologist, as this may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or premature birth.

Brown discharge in menopausal women

Depending on their age, brown discharge can sometimes also indicate that women are entering the menopause. The falling hormone levels mean that the mucous membrane of the uterus is no longer built up as before. This can cause small blood vessels in the uterus to rupture more quickly, which can sometimes be noticed in the form of brown discharge.

In addition to brown discharge, the following symptoms, among others, indicate the onset of the menopause:

  • Tiredness and sleep disturbances
  • Sweating and hot flushes
  • Skin problems
  • Decreased performance
  • Mood swings

Brown discharge after the menopause

While brown discharge is perfectly normal, especially at the beginning of the menopause, it can be a serious warning sign after the menopause. In some cases, it can even be a symptom of cancer.

If you develop brown discharge for a long time after menopause, you should contact your gynaecologist as soon as possible.

Brown discharge due to infection

Brown discharge can also be a symptom of infection in women. In this case, it is likely to occur in combination with other symptoms such as itching or pain in the lower abdomen.

Possible infections that can show up as brown discharge include chlamydia, fungal infections, gonorrhoea or an infection with herpes simplex. If an infection is suspected, affected women should of course contact their gynaecologist as soon as possible.period pants

When is brown discharge a case for the gynaecologist?

Fortunately, in most cases brown discharge is harmless. An appointment with the gynaecologist is therefore not always necessary straight away. In certain situations, however, it can be different. 

Women should contact their gynaecologist especially in the following situations:

  • Regular or prolonged discharge.
  • Additional symptoms such as abdominal pain and itching
  • Lumpy discharge
  • After menopause
  • Visual abnormalities in the genital area
  • Unpleasant odour
  • During pregnancy

How can brown discharge be treated?

The gynaecologist will carry out the necessary examinations to get to the bottom of the cause of the discharge. Depending on the diagnosis, she will then decide whether she needs to do anything and what treatment measures are necessary.

How can brown vaginal discharge be prevented?

Because of the many possible triggers, brown vaginal discharge in women can of course never be completely avoided. However, there are some things women can do to prevent potential problems.

These include

  • A healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, 
  • Regular check-ups with your gynaecologist, 
  • using condoms during sexual intercourse, 
  • not wearing underwear made of synthetic materials and proper 
  • and proper intimate hygiene.

Period underwear protects against brown discharge

Menstrual underwear is not only a comfortable protection during menstruation. It can also be used to keep everything pleasantly dry during brown discharge, so that women can go about their daily lives in a relaxed manner.

It's best to try it out right away. We have no doubt that you will love our high-quality period pants made from certified organic cotton.