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Brown Discharge During Pregnancy Top 10 Trimester Wise Causes

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

Brown discharge during pregnancy can be a serious issue threatening a healthy gestation. Some vaginal bleeding occurring in very early stages of pregnancy could simply indicate a successful implantation of the fertilized egg. However, any bleeding that occurs later on could be due to a critical condition such as separation of the placenta. Regardless of whether the bloody discharge is pink, red or brown in color, bleeding while being pregnant can be a scary and alarming sign.

Brown Discharge During Pregnancy – Top 10 Trimester Wise Causes And Key Conditions To Worry About

Slight bleeding during the very early stages of pregnancy is often trivial in nature. It may not require any significant management. However, any type of bleeding during the second and last trimester could indicate serious pathology issues and must be quickly diagnosed. Bleeding especially in the last trimester, is often risky and must be attended to immediately. Brown color vaginal discharge is secretion mixed with old blood. This is old blood that did not leave your vagina right after its occurrence. There could be various causes for this phenomenon. Here’s a list of the top 10 causes to worry about (Trimester Wise).

(First Trimester)

1. Threatened Abortion

This is often an extremely common and a highly serious cause for bloody discharge during the first trimester. It is a serious cause since in the case of a threatened abortion, the fetus is still alive and can be skillfully salvaged with proper care. On the other hand, in case of a complete abortion, the fetus is dead and needs to be evacuated from the uterus along with the other fragments of conception.

2. Complete Abortion

A complete abortion is a serious cause for bleeding during early pregnancy. A key way to distinguish a complete abortion is the amount of blood that is noticed. The bleeding will usually be copious and increases depending upon the gestational age. It is also associated with the passing of flesh bits through the vagina.

3. Ectopic Pregnancy

Brown vaginal discharge is provoked during an ectopic pregnancy by the rejection of the ovum. It is diagnosed with the help of an ultrasound. If confirmed, a surgery needs to be performed. This is a serious pathological condition and the earlier you contact your doctor, the better are your chances of having a successful future pregnancy. A woman may suffer from vomiting, nausea, vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain and weakness.

4. Threat Of miscarriage

Other key reason why bleeding could occur during the first trimester, is a threatened miscarriage. In this case, bleeding will be seen as blood stained discharge, brown spotting or bright red blood. This could also be accompanied by abdominal pain. Consult your midwife or doctor for any vaginal bleeding.

(Second Trimester)

5. Abortion (Complete Or Threatened)

This is another vital cause of bleeding in the second trimester. However, its incidence is greatly reduced as the pregnancy progresses. Although the symptoms are fairly similar to those evident within the first trimester, the quantum of bleeding tends to be relatively higher.

6. Abruption of Placenta

This is a serious condition that causes bleeding during the second trimester. This condition requires early diagnosis and proper management. The blood is usually dark brown in color and is associated with severe pain in the uterus and lower abdomen region.

7. Placenta Previa

This is an extremely serious condition causing profuse painless bleeding during pregnancy. Here, the placenta which normally occupies the upper section of the uterus, shifts to the lower part overlying the cervix. This condition could even cause a woman to bleed to death.

(Third Trimester)

8. Infections And Inflammation Of The Reproductive Organs

Various gynecological diseases tend to progress with symptoms of brown discharge. Incidentally, pregnancy is often a provoker than a barrier for their occurrence. It is recommended that you seek gynecological help right at the start of pregnancy planning to clear up prevailing infections and also avoid infections in the future.

9. Cervical Erosion / Cervical Ectropion

This is a common condition in pregnancy that is caused due to hormonal changes. It involves change of the delicate membrane of the cervix area containing mucus producing gland. This can lead to mucus like and painless brown vaginal discharge.

10. Mucus Plug Release

Mucus plug is a gel sealant within the cervix that protects the fetus from infections. It seals the uterus mouth. The mucus plug expulsion could result in a “bloody show”. This mucus discharge can be brownish yellow or pinkish in color. Several women give birth within a few hours of the plug passing, others may have to wait for a few weeks.

Note: During early pregnancy, a brown odorless discharge occurs between the 7 to the 14th day after conception. This is implantation bleeding that is experienced by some women. It is caused due to the ovum embedding itself into the uterus wall and is accompanied by light brown vaginal secretion. Normally, it will last for a few hours and then stop. At times, the brown color implantation blood does not leave a woman’s body until the next few months of pregnancy. The key reason for this type of an occurrence, is hormonal disorder. This can be non threatening. However, dark brown bloody discharge in early pregnancy should be immediately reported to your gynecologist.

Brown discharge during pregnancy should be taken responsibly. Avoid making any assumptions regarding your condition. The best thing to do is to contact your gynecologist or mid wife as soon as possible. If the bleeding has intensified, just lie down and keep your legs raised. Ask a family member or friend to call for an ambulance. Keep in mind, you cannot afford any delays under these circumstances.