A variety of different medical conditions can cause a dark brown discharge from a woman’s vagina. While medical attention may be essential in certain cases, most of them are caused by normal body processes and are generally harmless. A light brown discharge often disappears within a few days on its own.
What Are the Causes of A Dark Brown Discharge
There are as many as seven common reasons as to why a woman experiences a dark brown vaginal discharge.
#1: Pregnancy: Implantation can cause the discharge from a woman’s vagina to have a dark brown color. This is referred to as implantation bleeding. While the discharge can last for about 3 to 4 days, the color of the discharge may range from pink to red to light/dark brown.
#2: Ovulation: Women commonly experience spotting or a dark brown vaginal discharge as the egg gets released. Generally, it lasts only for a few days.
#3: Menopause: In general, a woman who is close to menopause often experiences a vaginal discharge that is dark brown in color when compared with that of the normal menstrual flow.
#4: Endometrial Bleeding: If some part of the wall of the uterus was not discharged at the time of the menstrual cycle, then endometrial bleeding can occur. Endometrial bleeding may occur either immediately after the end of the menstrual cycle or immediately before the start of the next menstrual cycle. As the blood that is being discharged is old, it can be dark brown in color.
#5: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: This medical condition occurs due to an infection in the fallopian tubes, lining of the uterus, cervix, ovaries and/or the vagina. It causes a lot of pain during intercourse and if left untreated, it can lead to abdominal pain and infertility. As the Pelvic Inflammatory disease can be a very serious medical condition, it is important to schedule a visit and consult the gynecologist.
#6: Cervical Cancer: By far, this is the most serious medical condition that may cause a dark brown vaginal discharge. Human papilloma virus or HPV is responsible for the spread of cervical cancer. Symptoms of cervical cancer may include weight loss, pelvic pain, loss of appetite, leg pain, and fatigue.
#7: Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Another reason as to why women experience a dark brown vaginal discharge is STD or sexually transmitted diseases. STDs that are capable of causing this problem may include genital warts, chlamydia and gonorrhea. In addition, women may experience other symptoms such as pain, a burning sensation, infertility, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Other aspects related to a dark brown discharge include foul odor, itching, pain around the vaginal area, burning sensation, swelling around the vaginal area and pain during intercourse. It is always better to visit a gynecologist who will be able to diagnose the reason for the dark brown vaginal discharge. A gynecologist may do a pelvic examination and recommend some tests if the pelvic examination does not indicate a reason for the discharge.
What Are the Treatment Options for A Brown Vaginal Discharge
For women who regularly experience a brown vaginal discharge before their menstrual cycle, there may not be any cause of concern as it is most likely to be harmless. If they are concerned about pregnancy, then it is a good idea to get a pregnancy test done. If the color and texture of the discharge is abnormal and there is pain, the condition should be evaluated. A gynecologist can recommend as to whether medication or a surgery to remove the polyps will be required or not.
Those women who experience a brown vaginal discharge after their regular period should make a note as to how long the discharge lasts. In case the discharge stops after the menstrual cycle, then it could be because of the delayed period and may not be a serious problem at all. On the other hand, if they experience continued discharge or other symptoms like other discharges, unexpected bleeding, or pain, then it could be due to an underlying medical condition and it is important to consult a doctor. If other symptoms like dryness, rash, itching, frequent urination and a burning sensation at the time of urination are also present, then a gynecologist should be consulted and appropriate treatment initiated. If the doctor diagnoses that the cause of the discharge is due to STD, bacterial or viral infection, he/she will prescribe the medication for treating the condition. Surgery or chemotherapy may be recommended, if the underlying cause of the discharge is cancer or any other serious condition.
Sometimes, the reason for the dark brown vaginal discharge may be due to implantation in the fallopian tube. This condition is required to be immediately treated. If the fetus is not growing very fast, then a dose of Methotrexate may be recommended by the doctor in order to stop the growth and dislodge the fetus. Sometimes, the fetus can be removed from the fallopian tube only by means of a surgery.
Women who experience a discharge and also the symptoms associated with a miscarriage, they must visit a doctor immediately. The gynecologist is the right person to decide whether the discharge is due to a miscarriage or any other underlying problem. In certain cases, a miscarriage can be prevented through medication. However, medication may not effective or useful in all the cases.
How To Prevent Brown Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharges that occur during pregnancy, ovulation or menopause and due to endometrial bleeding cannot be prevented at all.
However, brown vaginal discharges caused by STDs, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, cervical cancer, etc., can be prevented to a great extent by adopting appropriate safety measures, making lifestyle changes and following healthy habits.
Other preventive measures for dark brown discharges include the use of cotton underwear, wearing lose fitting undergarments, changing sanitary napkin or tampon frequently during the menstrual cycle and avoiding douching which increases the risk of infections by altering the natural pH level of the body.