Vaginal discharge that takes place in females before or after periods is always something that bothers them and many females are seen highly concerned about it. Sometimes right after periods, when vagina is cleaned or wiped, some females observe brown spotting. It is alarming as it looks like old blood with dead blood cells. Before periods, brown mucus discharge is also common as it might also indicate mid cycle and ovulation. It is also seen that during early pregnancy, some females experience either light brown discharge or thick brown discharge depending on the hormones involved. Brown discharge pregnancy is sometimes considered risky particularly if females have previous history of miscarriage or abortion. Under normal conditions the discharge is considered normal but if you feel some other symptoms along with the discharge don’t take it easy and consult your health care provider soon.
What makes vaginal discharge different from brown mucus discharge?
A normal discharge that takes place through vagina is normally healthy and transparent to milky white in appearance, along with this discharge the dead cells of mucus linings of vagina are removed keeping vagina healthy and the alkalinity of mucus acts as a slight antiseptic and kill the germs or microbes that gain entry to vagina, it is one of the natural mechanism to keep vagina healthy and free of infections.
In some cases, the mucus which is discharged in females gets stained by blood either after periods or infection. The blood cells when mixed with vaginal discharge make the mucus stained with light or dark brown color. The brown discharge after periods is mainly due to some of the damaged cells which were not completely removed during menstruation.
The human female menstrual cycle is under the control of two main hormones, estrogen and progesterone. These both hormones work in close collaboration to build and maintain uterine linings all the month. During ovulation which generally takes place somewhere in the mid of menstrual cycle, it is seen that the amount of vaginal discharge increases. Light spotting is considered absolutely normal at this time while if you are experiencing some other symptoms like back pain, pain during urination or sexual intercourse etc you are advised to seek immediate medical attention as it might be an early indication of certain serious infection of cervix, uterus or vagina.
Causes of light brown discharge through vagina:
The discharge in females often gets brown tint and there are several reasons of this. The two main causes of light brown discharge in females is either pregnancy or menopause. If the discharge is pinkish or light brown in color it is mostly an initial sign of pregnancy, on the other hand, if the discharge is light brown, yellowish or pinkish in elderly women and is also massive accompanied with low back pain it can be an early sign of onset of menopause.
Causes of thick brown discharge:
Likewise, there are some other factors which cause the thick brown discharge in females, some of the main causes are:
- Implantation bleeding:
When zygote is formed in the fallopian tube, it remains there unless its cells start dividing and is converted into embryo; the embryo once formed sinks to the uterus where it implants itself. During this implantation process, there may be some thick brown to reddish brown discharge in the females. It is an indication of pregnancy as well. The thick brown discharge normally appears as a smear not simple spotting neither a flowing mass.
- Break down of endometrial tissues:
In young girls who have recently started getting periods, sometimes the endometrial cells are not discharged properly. The reason is instability of estrogen and progesterone. As a result of brown mucus discharge, the uterus is cleaned and made ready for implantation (if any).
- Yeast infection:
One of the common causes of thick brown discharge is the vaginal infection caused by yeast, the infection is commonly known as candidiasis. If you experience swelling around genitals, irritation and intense to mild itching you must seek medical attention.
- Atrophic vaginitis:
If you are having bleeding along with brown mucus discharge, pain, vaginal itching and swelling across the genitals, pain during sexual intercourse, dryness around the genitals, it can possibly a sign of atrophic vaginitis. The discharge sometimes is yellowish in color with foul smell.
- Chlamydia infections:
Chlamydia is one of the most common infections which are transferred during unprotected sexual intercourses. The main concern of the infection is, initially it goes on asymptomatic while as the infection grows it starts showing the symptoms and certain serious health concerns in the future. The females unknowingly suffering from Chlamydia face trouble in getting pregnant. With brown discharge pregnancy is associated with so many potential risks.
- Polyps in Uterus:
Light brown discharge is often associated with the uterine polyps, they are also known as endometrial (walls of uterus are known as endometrium) polyps. Once the polyps are formed in the uterus, they can cause bleeding after intercourse, massive discharge in menstruation along with uncontrolled vaginal bleeding. Light brown mucus discharge is often considered linked with uterine polyps as well.
Urthritis is an ailment of urethra and is not similar to that of common urethral infections. The infection is caused by bacteria and results in increased urge to urinate along with painful urethral contractions which makes peeing very painful. Females have more chances of getting this infection as they have shorter urethra. It can also result in bleeding and bloody mucus discharge.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):
It is an infection of female reproductive tract including vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It affects more than a million females per annum in US. The infection is caused by bacteria and can result in brown discharge.
- Ectopic pregnancy:
It is a threatening condition where in spite of implanting itself in the uterus, the zygote implants itself somewhere else. The brown mucus discharge while pregnant can sometime highlight ectopic pregnancy. Gynecologist is to be consulted immediately as brown discharge pregnancy can be an early indication of ectopic and threatened pregnancy.
- Cervical cancer:
One of the most serious diseases which is linked with brown discharge is cervical cancer. Unlike other cancers of the body, it is caused by HPV virus. The human papilloma virus once gained entry in the cervix results in uncontrolled cellular growth forming tumor. Frequent weight loss, leg pain, pelvic pain, fatigue even on slight physical workout and loss of appetite are the symptoms. It is therefore advised to keep an eye on brown discharge if any and to consult doctor if it is accompanied with other complications.
It is a bacterial infection which is passed on to the partner during unprotected sexual intercourse. In some people there are no symptoms while in some females in results in brown discharge. If the infection occurs during pregnancy, it might be harmful for the growing fetus as well. The brown discharge pregnancy is therefore needed to be discussed with gynecologist or obstetrician soon.
- Endometrial cancer:
It is an abnormal growth of cells taking place in the endometrium (the uterine linings). It is a form of cancer which originates itself from inside the uterine linings. It is one of the life threatening conditions in females and according to National Cancer institute, the cancer of uterus is found in almost 6% of American females. If there is any bleeding after menopause, it is advised to consult a doctor and get all the diagnostic tests as advised.
Complications associated with brown discharge while pregnant:
The brown discharge in females is considered normal while there are some cases where associated symptoms are involved and the life style is affected. If the discharge is accompanied with foul smell, burning or itching of genitals, pain during sexual intercourse, it is advised to be discussed with doctor. A doctor on the other hand might take some pelvic examination and other tests to find out the exact cause.
Treatment and prevention of brown mucus discharge:
Sometimes the brown mucus discharge is absolutely normal while in some cases there are some risks associated. The brown mucus discharge while pregnant is common but if it is too often than normal, you must consult your health care provider. Implantation bleeding occurs for a short time and with the passage of time it will go away. But if the discharge is associated with some other symptoms, you must consult an expert gynecologist.
The methods of treatment of thick brown discharge are listed below:
- If the discharge is due to sexually transmitted infections you can consult a doctor and use of antibiotics is normally prescribed.
- Sometimes brown discharge is due to menopause and it will go away once after the onset of menopause. But if there are some associated symptoms like pain in pelvis and joints, it can be treated.
- Brown discharge often takes place due to the polyps which are formed inside the uterus. Usually dilation and curettage technique is applied to get rid of these polyps and is done by expert medical supervisor. The scrap of the uterus is sent to lab for thorough and detailed examination, if they are non cancerous or cancerous the hysterectomy is done and the uterus of a female is removed. If the polyps are cancerous, there may be need of some other treatments along with hysterectomy like radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Likewise cervical cancers are also treated by surgery to remove the tumor along with chemotherapy.
The methods of prevention of brown discharge are simple, you can keep strict hygienic and sanitary conditions particularly across the genitals to keep the vagina safe from potential infections. Make use of cotton and organic under garments, as all other form of fabrics might aid in the quick spread of infections. The undergarments must be lose in fitting, tight under garments do not let air to come in contact with vagina keeping it moist for a longer time and can cause more discharge. One of the most advised measure to adopt during menstruation is to keep on changing sanitary napkins soon, the prolonged use of sanitary napkins can cause more speedy growth of infections, don’t forget to change the sanitary napkin every six hours whether needed or not. Likewise tampons are also needed to be changed frequently. Douching must be avoided as it can cause more infections and their speedy multiplication in the female reproductive tract by simply throwing off the natural pH level of the body.
Brown spotting is quite natural phenomena and is rather useful as it wipes away some of the deal endometrial cells which were not completely removed during menstruation. On the other hand, one has to keep an eye on the quantity, color, type and time of discharge. If accompanied with other symptoms this brown discharge might be an indicator to underlying health concern and under this condition you must seek immediate medical attention. It might be a sign of pregnancy and sometimes if it is taking place in frequency during pregnancy; it might be an indication of some threats to developing fetus. If your health care provider will see any potential risk to pregnancy, some synthetic hormones (which behave like estrogen and progesterone) are administered in the body via injections or IVs. The purpose is to keep pregnancy viable.
The methods of prevention are always easy to adopt, take care of your personal hygiene and minimize the risk of genital and other sort of infections to keep your body active and healthy for a long.
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