Tracing the Causes of Pink and Brown Vaginal Discharge

Tracing the Causes of Pink and Brown Vaginal Discharge
  • March 21, 2024
  • blog

Vaginal discharge is a normal and sometimes an everyday activity. It’s the thin and clear vaginal discharge of different colours (brown and pink) and may also contain blood, but not always. 

Also called spotting, the discharge can be seen before or after the periods and even during pregnancy. Although this discharge is rarely a cause of concern, let’s conduct a healthy discussion on its meaning, causes, and the difference between the two. 

What is Pink and Brown Vaginal Discharge?

Brown discharge is the release of dried-out blood left over from the last menstrual cycle and is fairly common in the days leading up to the beginning of the next cycle. This essentially means that the vagina is cleaning itself before the next period. 

The brown discharge lasts for a few days before or after the period and is identified through some normal symptoms. However, if the discharge continues after a few days, it’s better to visit the doctor. 

Pink discharge is slightly different from brown discharge in terms of colour and causes. This form of discharge is most common before a period wherein cervical mucus mixes with the fresh module. 

Menstrual Cycle Related and General Causes of Pink and Brown Vaginal Discharge 

Seeing blood coming out of the vagina can be scary, but remember, sometimes blood is only a form of discharge that can be due to several reasons. 

Discharge Before Periods 

Blood in the vaginal lining mixes with the mucus to be released, as the pink discharge is a sign that the period is about to start. Moreover, it happens when the cervix begins to shed its lining in preparation for the next menstruation cycle. 

At times, women might also see brown discharge, which happens during the beginning of the period, and the blood flow is lighter than usual. 

Discharge After the Periods

Just as the pink and brown discharge is seen before periods, it can also be seen after periods. Brown discharge after the periods is the leftover blood leaving the uterus. 

As long as the amount of discharge is minimal and it stops in a day or two, there’s nothing to worry about. 

Pink discharge after the periods are over is rare, but it can happen. This can be due to leftover fresh blood or small hormonal shifts. Hormonal shifts manifest when the body begins to regulate its cycle after menstruation. 

Irritation in Cervix Area

Pink and brown discharge can also result from irritation due to cervix or vaginal bleeding. This can also happen after having intercourse or when placing an object inside the vagina for pleasure or medical tests. 

A small infection can cause irritation in the cervix. Other reasons of this irritation include exposure to chemicals or trauma. During this time, an unusual discharge can also lead to experiencing pain during intercourse. 

This implies that the factors leading to bleeding and irritation are mixed. Where an infection caused due to any reason can lead to irritation and bleeding, its opposite is also possible. 

Bleeding During the Ovulation Period

Ovulation occurs when the ovary releases an egg in the middle of the menstrual cycle. Brown or pink discharge can be due to ovulation bleeding. 

Free Red Round Fruits on White Surface Stock Photo

Bleeding can also take the form of mild spotting or a very light-coloured discharge. During this period, women may also experience ovulation cramps. 


It’s a condition manifesting very light periods and may have brown or pink vaginal discharge. Whereas a normal menstrual cycle can take 24 to 38 days and periods last for up to 8 days, an irregular period cycle has a different range than a normal one. 

Irregular periods can occur due to age, PCOD, overexercising, stress, and breastfeeding. 

When Taking Birth Control Pills

Women on hormonal birth control medicines or using medically prescribed methods for this purpose can experience pink or brown-coloured discharge. Such medicines and methods can create hormonal imbalances, leading to breakthrough bleeding. 

Other reasons for breakthrough bleeding include;

  • Missing one birth control pill.
  • Forgetting to change the birth control patch or ring. 
  • When the woman is ill or becomes dehydrated in the middle of the menstrual cycle. 
  • Taking antibiotics for any health issue. 
  • Uses an intrauterine device (IUD).

To find the exact reason for vaginal discharge, whether pink or brown, you must consult a doctor for a professional opinion. 

Ovarian Cysts

These are fluid-filled sacs that pop up in the ovaries and are most likely to occur in an individual’s child-bearing age. Most commonly, they appear after an ovary releases an egg. Some ovarian cysts can grow in size and lead to abnormal discharge between periods. 

People with ovarian cysts may not present with many symptoms, but the following events are common in such individuals. 

  • Pain and pressure in the lower part of the abdomen. 
  • Experiences pain during intercourse.
  • A sensation of fullness and satiety.
  • Experiencing pain or some sort of pressure during urination.
  • Feeling nauseous and like vomiting.

In several cases, affected individuals may have large and multiple cysts, which is common in those diagnosed with PCOD. Such individuals will need medical treatment and medication to eliminate cysts and get back to a normal menstrual cycle. 

Pregnancy-Related Causes of Pink and Brown Vaginal Discharge

Brown or pink vaginal discharge is also seen in women during pregnancy is common, but the reasons behind it can be different.

Bleeding Due to Implantation

Early in the pregnancy, expectant mothers might notice some light spotting around the 4th week. This spotting is due to implantation bleeding, which occurs when the fertilised embryo burrows (implants) into the vascular lining of the uterus. 

During the same period, some mothers may also experience mild cramping. Often, this happens during pregnancy when the individual expects to get their next period. 

Following implantation bleeding, early signs of pregnancy may manifest, including headaches, nausea, food aversions, fatigue, breast tenderness, and backaches. 

Ectopic Pregnancy

It’s rare but possible when pregnancy occurs outside the uterus, a condition called ectopic pregnancy. Pregnancy during this period happens in the fallopian tube, and brown-pink discharge is seen as well. 

Usually, brown discharge is seen in this case, and ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition. Hence, it’s essential to visit the emergency room if the expectant mother experiences shoulder pain, fainting, lightheadedness, extreme dizziness, and intermittent abdominal or pelvic pain. 


Vaginal bleeding during the bleeding is a sign of miscarriage. However, miscarriage-manifested bleeding has other symptoms as well, including cramping, increased bright red bleeding, abdominal pain, lower back pain, and watery discharge. 

Bleeding in the first trimester is often seen in expectant mothers, but this is not always the result of miscarriage. However, it’s recommended to consult the doctor after first noticing vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. 


Vaginal pink or brown discharge after giving birth is termed as Lochia. The discharge after the first few days of giving birth is similar to a heavy period with dark red blood clots. 

However, bleeding will slow down after some time, and the discharge will have a light colour and intensity. From dark red, it will turn to pinkish or brown and then to creamy white or yellow. 


Small amount of pink and brown vaginal discharge before, during, and after pregnancy is not a big reason to worry about. Don’t panic; in most cases, a small amount of blood discharging is normal. 

However, it’s always better to get yourself checked regularly. In case of discharge, if you had visited the doctor for a checkup recently, had intercourse in the last 24 hours, and are nearing the end of pregnancy, it’s nothing to worry about. 

In case the discharge volume and intensity increase, it’s better to visit the doctor. 

Prepare Yourself for a Healthy Pregnancy with Santokh Hospital

At Santokh Hospital, we have a 15-member team of gynaecologists, nursing assistants, and lab technicians, working with a single aim: to make your pregnancy period painless, smooth, and memorable. 

Their collective expertise and thought process, spearheaded by experienced and expert gynaecologists, creates a personalised care plan for every expectant mother. We act fast to resolve any issues and are available for your assistance 24/7. 

Book your appointment with the Santokh Hospital today and start your journey towards motherhood with an effective and expert support structure.