Why do I have a Brown Discharge?

Weird colored vaginal discharge can be very disturbing. Sometimes, a woman can peep down the undercarriage and get disconcerted to notice a brown fluid or a brown patch on the underwear. However, it shouldn’t be so. Majority of cases where vaginal discharge appears brown is nothing to worry about. It is normal for the Menstrual Cycle to leave old blood that could take a little longer to leave the body.

Someone will say, blood should be red, so why brown? You are right to expect red discharge at this point. Yet, in a scenario like this, when this old blood mixes with cervical mucus, it turns the color to brown instead of the red colored fresh blood.

Normal Discharge

Discharge is normal and happens on a daily basis. Vaginal discharge is that fluid that oozes out of the undercarriage, staining the underwear. It results from the function of vaginal cells to secrete bacteria and fluids. Normally, discharge has different consistencies and colors as a direct result of the different phases in the Menstrual Cycle. Most of the time, discharge is different in amount and frequency depending on the woman.

Types of discharge

What many women know as normal discharge is a clear-stretchy discharge that has an egg-white consistency. It is a discharge that signifies the onset of ovulation and a window of fertility. However, as said earlier there are different types of discharge based on color and consistencies. Here are the different types of discharge:

Brown Discharge

This is the most common discharge that appears a few days during and after the period. It is caused by the mixing of cervical mucus with old blood from the immediate Menstrual Cycle. It is usually nothing to worry about and may sometimes occur at the time you expect your period in early pregnancy.

Thick-White Discharge

Appears just before or just after the period. Except where there is pain and itching, which you need to see a doctor for (could be a sign of yeast infection), do not fret, it is perfectly normal.

Clear, Stretchy Discharge with egg-white consistency

Occurs around the ovulation period right in the middle of the cycle, an indication that the fertile window is nigh.

Clear and Watery Discharge

This is the normal discharge that occurs throughout a woman’s cycle and lifetime as well. This type of discharge would turn egg-white clear and stretchy to signify fertility.

Greenish-yellow Discharge

The appearance of this kind of discharge is a cause for concern. More often than not this is a sign of infection and would have a foul smell. See your doctor when this arises.

So, why do I have brown discharge?

You now know about normal and abnormal discharge. Before you begin spiraling, let us help you understand what it means to have a brown discharge.


As earlier stated, brown discharge two days before or after your period is nothing to worry about. It is probably just regular discharge mixed with new blood that isn’t heavily flowing yet, or old blood that’s had a chance to mix with air.

When this red blood mixes with air it undergoes a process called oxidization to turn from the fresh red color of blood to a brownish hue.

Birth control

There are several birth control methods that could also contribute to the browning of the discharge. Birth control methods like hormonal IUD, arm plants or progestin-only mini pills release the hormone progestin. When this happens it causes what is called irregular spotting that makes the discharge brown. This is totally normal and it is to be expected when you use progestin containing birth control methods.

When should I worry about brown discharge?

It would be unfair if we don’t ask ourselves this question. In as much as brown discharge is nothing to worry about, there are circumstances that may need a medical advice.

To start with, a brown to dark discharge that appears suddenly could be a sign of a serious infection or anomaly, especially when a woman is not on hormonal birth control. In the case of spotting or irregular bleeding, you would want to see a doctor to confirm whether it is an indicator of a miscarriage, early pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy.

Additionally, some women may experience irregular cycles and/or spotting, especially after sex. For such women, brown discharge is an indicator of a yeast infection, a bacterial infection or a type of a sexually transmitted infection. A polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) could also be in the offing, which is a hormonal disorder that causes the ovaries to enlarge and fail to release an egg regularly.

For these two last reasons for a brown discharge, it is important to immediately consult your doctor. Two results are imminent, your doctor may test you positive for one of the above, and when this occurs, you can get treatment or, your doctor may just reassure you that your discharge is normal. Most importantly, seek to confirm.

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