Brown Vaginal Bleeding

The color of vaginal blood is usually expected to be a bright to dark redĀ  and a brown vaginal bleed may be concerning since it is not the norm. Brown vaginal blood, either light or dark in color, usually indicates that the blood is not fresh and has been contained in the vagina or uterus for a period of time before being expelled. It is important to identify any vaginal secretion because brown vaginal discharge is often mistaken for brown vaginal bleeding.

Causes of Brown Vaginal Blood

Brown vaginal secretions may at times be a vaginal discharge streaked with ‘old blood’ – blood that is breaking down and has taken a period of time before it exits through the vagina. At other times, a brown vaginal discharge may occur on its own with no signs of bleeding and this may seen in vaginal infections or pelvic inflammatory disease. Any of the causes of abnormal vaginal bleeding may appear as brown vaginal blood if the bleeding occurs slowly thereby allowing the blood to degrade over time. Some of the causes of brown vaginal bleeding include :

  • Retained menses. The sloughing of the inner wall of the uterus (endometrium) is usually expelled during menstruationĀ  but at times a small portion of the uterine contents may be retained. If expelled after a couple of days or more, it may appear as brown vaginal bleeding. In the case of retained menses, this is usually a small amount that may occur a few days after you finish your period.
  • Induced abortion. Using the abortion pill or having an illegal abortion may result in some of the uterine contents being expelled for days and weeks after the abortion. This may appear as brown vaginal bleeding with clots that are dark brown to black in color. In legal abortions, a D&C (dilation and curettage) is conducted and due to manual aspiration, most, if not all of the uterine contents are removed at the time of the abortion. This makes any late brown vaginal bleeding less likely.
  • Miscarriage. Depending on the stage of your pregnancy when you miscarried, remnants of the fetus, placenta or parts of the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) may be expelled over days or even weeks after the incident. It is important for women who have miscarried to consult with their doctor and verify if a D&C (dilation and curettage) is necessary.
  • Infections of the vagina, uterus or fallopian tubes may cause slight bleeding that degrades before it exits the vagina. If it is a slight bleed and the infection is limited, a brown vaginal bleed may be noticed for a short period of time. Other symptoms like pain and a fever may also be present. Sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) may also be responsible for brown vaginal bleeding with/without a discharge and this may occur over a long period of time.
  • Cancer, especially in cases of cervical cancer where there is slight bleeding and ulceration of the cervix, a brown vaginal bleed may be noticed occasionally. In this case, the abnormal vaginal bleeding may occur over a duration of time and increase in severity at the malignancy progresses.

Please note that any information or feedback on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a health care professional and will not constitute a medical diagnosis. By using this website and the comment service you agree to abide by the comment terms and conditions as outlined on this page

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  • leanne

    I have had 4 pregnancys, two full term i have had no pap smears, nothing. I am still waiting for a referral to the gyne after nearly 2 months.

  • gracia

    i always have brown discharge before my period which usually occur for a few days followed by heavy bleeding. but now, i am due to have my period in two days but no brown discharge. i’ve had sex with my bf during my ovulation period last february 15 and 16 using pull out method and had my regular period which started march 3 which lasted for 4 days. my period was normal so i am just wondering that i haven’t got brown discharge and my period is due in two days, should i be concerned?

  • karen

    Everytime we have sex of my husband after sex I bleed …den my vagina discharges red/brown …im afraid to see my gynecologist they said paps smear hurts …..

  • HI Leanne. Sorry to hear that you still haven’t been able to see a gynecologist. Unfortunately there is little that you can do but seek medical advice. It may be advisable to see a private gynecologist on your own accord without waiting for a referral through your health care system. Pap smears should be done regularly and this is very concerning that you have had none as yet. Speak to your family doctor,

  • Hi Gracia. You may be getting worried a bit too soon. Hopefully by now you have had your period and if not then you have done a pregnancy test. Such a small deviation from your normal cycle may not be anything to worry about just yet. However, if it persists or other symptoms arise then you definitely consult with your gynecologist. It is advisable that you consider contraception if you do not want to fall pregnant. The pull-out/withdrawal method is not reliable.

  • Katie

    Hi, I have really irreguluar periods, I always have. I will go months and months without one and then I will get one and it will last between 1-2 months and it is very very heavy and has lots of clots! I had unprotected sex about 3 weeks ago, then I started my period 5 days ago heavy the first day, then yesterday my period stopped suddenly and now I am having brown discharge???? This is a new one for me, I haven’t had it happen before????

  • Hi Karen. You NEED to see a gynecologist immediately. This could be the symptoms of cervical cancer although other conditions could also cause similar symptoms. There is some discomfort during a Pap smear but avoiding it could make the difference between life or death if you do have cervical cancer. Millions of women are doing Pap smears around the globe every month. It is not as painful as some women describe so rather go and see your gynecologist.

  • karen

    hi Im 25 years old got married last year have always had regular periods but this time i started with my normal period on feb 22 1015 and bleed normally for 5 days and then till now apr 8 2015 ( aprox 6 weeks now )i have been having brown blood sometimes red blood very light only need to change pad once a day. went to the GP she hasn’t done any exam and gave me tranexamic acid which has made no difference still having brown blood with clots. im always tired sometimes get really bad cramps sometimes . Gp says its nothing its hormonal and it will correct itself.

  • senga

    Hi im wondering if you can help me. I havent had a period since feb 2015. I now have dark brown discharge. It is very light not heavy. What could this be? Thanks

  • ashnicole

    I am 13 about to turn 14 in June. I was at school and I noticed a brownish red (like you said) on my underwear, it was also a lot white. I have never had this before and it can’t be my period because I don’t get it until this Sunday. (I always get it on Sundays). HELP I don’t know what to do I’m scared.

  • tia

    I had sex a month back with protection and my periods came late and because i was too much worried about periods I did pregnancy test which showed negative.My periods lasted for 12 days approx which is unusual and then after it got finished since 3 days I can notice dark brown color blood,which is too way less to use a pad.also I am getting abdominal pain but not so much,mostly after i pee.and after sometym it just vanish.

  • Hi Katie. Irregular periods is a sign of various disorders, like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It needs to be corrected and hopefully you have been seeing a doctor about it. The brown discharge could occur for a number of reasons as you can see from the article above. It could be degraded blood mixed with mucus from the period just prior to it. However, it could also be the sign of an infection or possibly even a miscarriage. There is just no way of saying for sure through an online platform. You need to consult with a doctor and see a gynecologist for long term management of the underlying condition.

  • Hi Karen. Hopefully pregnancy and possibly a miscarriage has been excluded. The fact that you previously had normal periods and now this has started it should definitely be investigated. It is advisable that you see a gynecologist. Once a possible miscarriage is excluded there are many other conditions that need to be considered. The approach thus far is obviously not helping and you may have now developed complications, in this case possibly anemia which may account for the fatigue that you are experiencing.

  • migi

    Hi! I’m a 13 year old girl, I had my blood taken on test come back on Saturday, my mom wanted to know why my hair was falling out; I’m know I have trichophagia ; I haven’t told her ) and It came back saying I have anemia on wednesday. For two days, I’ve had brown stains on my underwear and I know it isn’t my period because it only comes when it’s the beginning of a month. Can someone please tell me what’s wrong?

  • eli

    Hi… I’m 18 years old and have been on the depo shot for 7 months I got my first shot 2 weeks after I had my daughter for the past two months I’ve had brown discharge and uncomfortablity and itchiness, should I see a doctor about this or is it not that serious?

  • Alyssa Pena

    Hello, well i recently had a baby 8 months ago. so after i had her i went and got on the depo shot. & so after the depo shot ended i started my period. & couldnt get back on depo because i didnt have insurance till the 1st of jan. ok so since december ive been having the clear discharge everyday even till this day and would bleed brown/light brown for only a day or two and it would stop. and this is happing every other day with me.
    hoping anyone has some answers for me.

  • Hi Ashnicole. It is advisable that you speak to the school nurse or your Mom if possible. This may need to be checked up by a doctor and you will need an adult to be present. It may not be anything to worry about but it is advisable that a doctor checks up what may be wrong.

  • Hi Tia. Hopefully you did repeat the pregnancy test a week later to confirm that you really weren’t pregnant. It is possible that you were pregnant and it just wasn’t showing up on the test. The dark blood is concerning because it could be a miscarriage. However, if it is was not pregnancy then it is possible that it could be an infection and even a STD. You should see your doctor even though it has stopped. It is worth having it checked up.

  • Hi Senga. We cannot say for sure what may be causing this. We are not in a position to diagnose you. There are many possible causes ranging from a miscarriage, to uterine fibroids, infections and even the possibility of cervical cancer among a host of other conditions. This has to be assessed by a gynecologist and it is advisable that you make an appointment as soon as possible. It may not be anything serious but it needs to be investigated.

  • Hi Eli. It is always advisable to consult with your doctor in such cases. Since you are on a contraceptive it may not be pregnacy or a miscarriage but it could be an infection, early sign of fibroids or even problems with the cervix. Hopefully you have been undergoing regular Pap smears. See your doctor who will advise your further.

  • emily

    I’ve been tAking the depo vera shot since november 2014 right after having my daughteron that halloween. It’s now may 1st. In March, my period skipped which can be normal due ti the bc.
    My period in April started on the 18th and is still continuing. Its a brown period. Anyone cantell me what’s happening???

  • angela perry

    Hi for last 6 month I have being have a 7 day period where I will lose clots then
    brown blood for up to 7 days after a period. this month I have had a 2 day red bleed and being loseing brown discharge for last 6 days today it as gone back to red blood no possibility of being pregnant as being done for 6 years

  • Hi Guest. It is advisable that you see a gynecologist as soon as possible. This discharge that you are experiencing may not be related to the shot and it could be another condition. The shots are not reliable contraception if you do not have it at the prescribed time so you will need to use another form of protection.

  • nita

    I had a miscarriage on may 21 and i didnt blood heavy just some spots. And now i been having old blood when i use the bathroom off and on should i go back to the doctor asap

  • Brianna Brown

    Hi , I had my second son on Feb 22nd, he caused a urethral diverticulum. I had surgery for that and now they think I have built up scar tissue and I am using recticare (lidocain 5%) on my vaginal like the obgyn said. Well for weeks now I have been having dark brown vaginal bleeding/discharge/spotting. I really need advice. Changing obgyn and it takes at least 3 weeks just for new obgyn to call me and set up appointment. My email is

  • jayre

    Dear Dr. Chris,
    I am 19 years old and I’m a virgin, my period was very normal this month it was on time and it finished on june 20 2015, however on the 27th i got a brown spot on my panties, barely noticeable, on the 28th the brown spot got bigger, on the 29th today, i got a big black clot after i finished peeing and i dont have any back or stomach pain and I’ve been very concerned since i read it could be cancer.

  • Hi Nita. It is not uncommon to have this dark bleed often with clots a while after the miscarriage. We would not say it is normal but it is not uncommon. Since you are concerned you should follow up with your doctor if it has not stopped as yet. A routine consultation with a gynecologist is also advisable.

  • mary

    My son is 7 months old. I breast fed for 2 months and got the depo shot 8 weeks after his birth and never got the second shot after the 3 months. I still haven’t gotten my period but I have brown spotting every other week. In the beginning of the pregnancy I was told I had an abnormal pap smear and abnormal cells. Should I be worried?

  • Hannah Russell


    The last time I got my period was April 6th – April 10th. I did not get it the month of May or June. From like July 8th to probably around the 20th I had a little bit of dark brown discharge. Today is July 28th. Should I be worried? Thank you

  • Patience

    Ive missed my period for the past 6wks.I thought i was pregnant but iv not had any symptoms of pregnancy.I had sex during my ovulation period in June and when i was supposed to get my menses on the 22nd of June,it never came.I hv not take a pregnancy test as im scared it might be negative as i really want it to be positive.Yesterday,I saw bright red blood,abt a teaspoonful which made me think’oh im not pregnant’cos i thought i was menstruating but NO! that was it,no more blood came till this morning.Ive not seen any more since y/day.This has never happened to me since i started my menses.Im very confused ? and scared.Any advice would be greatly appreciated.Im 40yrs by the way.Thanks.

  • eugenia robinson

    I found out I was pregnant in June, I don’t remember when my last normal period was, my periods have been irregular since I had my third daughter in October a month early. Starting Monday I have had light pink sometimes small amounts of streaking red blood off and on and it is now wednesday I noticed I have brown discharge with very small blood clots. I never had this with my other three. I’m not uncomfortable or in pain, occasionally I feel like I have light cramps. Please help.

  • emily

    two days into my period and my blood is a really dark brown almost black color, but it has no odor. i recently took an emergency contraception pill, the day after i had unprotected sex to be exact. I’m very concerned. The flow is very slow. I can’t see my doctor until tomorrow but I’d like to know if anyone might have an idea as to what it is that’s wrong with me.

  • Hi Emily. Hopefully you have seen a doctor at this point. This change in your period could be due to a terminated pregnancy from the emergency contraceptive you used. It is therefore important that you seek medical advice to exclude this possibility and if it is not the cause then your doctor will consider other conditions and may require further diagnostic investigation. Your doctor will be able to advise you further.

  • Alyssa

    I am 24 yrs old, NO children, NEVER pregnant, NO surgeries. I have Mirena (inserted Aug. 2012). This was inserted to control heavy bleeding (I had a period for almost 5 months). I have been having brown spotting/discharge with blackish/brown clots/chunks EVERY month instead of a period for the past 3+ months. I get a “period” twice a month, sometimes 3. Intercourse is very painful and I bleed immediately afterwards bright red blood EVERY TIME after. But within the next hour it’s BROWN and stays this way for days. Severe abdominal and pelvic pain. Also extreme flank pain, nausea, vertigo and vomiting. I DID have unprotected sex Aug 2 & 3 2015 and he DID ejaculate inside of me. I have had very few pregnancy symptoms, and 5 negative pregnancy tests. (Last pregnancy test was taken Sept 2 and was digital Clear Blue: negative) I have irregular periods, esp since Mirena was inserted I never know when my “period” is, i no longer get one and if i do it’s just this disgusting brown spotting – NO smell. Only visible when wiping; I’ll throw on a panty liner to prevent dirty panties and at the end of the day there’s only a tiny brown speck on it. Let me throw it out there: I have recurring yeast infections (I’ve had over 3 this year alone and taken 3 courses of antibiotics for it) and I believe I may now have a kidney infection as my kidneys ache and hurt when drinking caffeine. Please, does anyone have similar symptoms or may know what direction (what kind of doctor) i should see? I’m running out of money from 1st patient visits and do NOT have insurance. Thanks. You can email me at aaenrriques3 @aol .com.

  • Hi Alyssa. As you can see many of your symptoms are similar to other users. In your case the concern is about conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This may or may not be associated with a UTI. Sometimes this can be sexually transmitted. There is no way of knowing for sure. You need to consult with a doctor who will most likely to have to run further tests. Despite the previous antibiotics, it is possible that this is a recurrent infection. Your doctor will advise you accordingly.

  • Jennifer

    Hi, I’m 44 years old. I had a my tubes tied 19 years ago after my youngest child was born. My problem is I had 2 “spotting” periods in early October, then on October 24th had so-I – thought my regular period, I bled extremely heavy & cramped very badly, (worst period ever!) for nearly two and a half weeks… The bleeding eased up to just spotting but I still was cramping very badly, spotting turned in to brownish color. This has been going on 3 weeks now, I finally have an appointment with my gyno on December 1st…
    Please if you doctors have any advice.
    Thank you!

  • Jennifer

    Hi, I’m 44 years old. I had a my tubes tied 19 years ago after my youngest child was born. My problem is I had 2 “spotting” periods in early October, then on October 24th had so-I – thought my regular period, I bled extremely heavy & cramped very badly, (worst period ever!) for nearly two and a half weeks… The bleeding eased up to just spotting but I still was cramping very badly, spotting turned in to brownish color. This has been going on 3 weeks now, I finally have an appointment with my gyno on December 1st…
    Please if you doctors have any advice.
    Thank you!

  • mommyof2

    Hello. i am 23 days late on my period. i recently took a test and it was negative. then, i started last night with a brown period instead of the normal color. i have all of the signs of pregnancy though. hungry,tired, emotional,sore and swollen breasts,even some weight gain…does anyone know what this may be???

  • Hi mommyof2. Even if the pregnancy test that you used showed negative, it does not mean that you are not pregnant. Rather speak to your doctor if you have not done so already and let your doctor run the necessary investigations to confirm whether you are pregnant or not. You mention the pregnancy symptoms as well as the brown discharge and this could be signs of a miscarriage. However, it may also be unrelated to pregnancy and this could be associated with other gynecologic conditions. The only way to know for sure is for your doctor to run further tests.

  • Kelsey

    I been using reglar birthcontrol pill for two years no problem “back in 2011&2012″. I stop using that I did the implant and made me weak so I stop that in 2014”. In 2014 I went ahead and used depo shot sense the implant dodnt work. I never had any problem with the depo shot I just wanted to get off of it. After I did get off it my body started act funny. The doctor keep saying I had yeast infection UTI. I had blood work done and plevic exam done and pap test done many yime time. Notjing came back positive. I had std test done I had pergo test done too. However when I was on the depo shot I didnt have my period at all. Now I bleed unexpexted kinda red and brown. I had an utral sound done too. There was nothing!!! My gen. doctor do believe that it not a yeast infection and she does see what im talkig about. BUT I STILL HAVE NO ANSWER!!! p.s. I do have back pain and in the front to and my hair is not the same. It never been an issues before. SO what some tip you can give me!!.!

  • Cathy

    After almost 2 years, I stopped taking bc last June. We started TTC, got my first period not the withdrawal period last July. Same as August but come September I only have very light period, October got brown black discharge for 3 weeks so I consulted a gyne and she gave me duphaston which stopped the discharge. November I have normal period, I am discharging red blood instead of the brown black discharge. This month, it’s happening again, what is wrong with me? How can I be pregnant if this is always happening?

  • Hi Cathy. It can take several months for your period to stabilize after stopping birth control. The brown/black discharge that you are experiencing could be due to a host of different causes as you can see from the article. This could occur with a pregnancy as some women do experience bleeding through the first trimester and progesterone is prescribed to prevent a miscarriage. However, there is also the possibility that this is due to other conditions which may not be related to pregnancy or your past history of using birth control. It would be advisable to speak toy our gynecologist again. Further investigations may be necessary to identify the underlying cause.

  • jyoti

    Hello Dr .,
    I am having muddy brown vaginal discharge ( very dirty in look, but without any smell) 2 days before each period for about 1 year.
    This started after a pill induced abortion.
    I am very worried what may be the cause.
    I had taken pills as per medical prescription.

    Now I want to plan pregnancy. Can it affect the conception?

  • Cristal Perez

    Hello, I was concerned because I’ve noticed yesterday that i had discharge but it was brown. And it was just a little line on my underwear and this has happened once before like a week ago. And today I have some bleeding but its a brown and red color . I want to know what it means. This is the first time it happens my period usually comes red and it doesn’t come around this time. What does it mean?

  • jummy

    Hi dr my name is Jummy am a first time mum, I had my baby 11 months ago and got my period some weeks later and I went for depot dera shot and ever since then I didn’t see my period for lyk 10 months and went to see my doc and he checked me and said am not producing eggs so there cant b a period for me for now,later I saw my period with lots of cramps but its not flowing at all. Is this normal?

  • Hi Jummy. While it should not have occurred, sometimes there may be a bleed and cramping. This may not necessarily be a period though. It is very important that you follow up with your doctor as there is a possibility that this could be due to another problem, like an infection. It is difficult to say for sure bu your doctor will run the necessary tests and advise you accordingly.

  • Hi Jummy. We are not in a position to state whether this is normal or not. This is best left to a doctor who is familiar with your case. However, considering that you have had your contraceptive shot 10 months ago it would undoubtedly have worn off by now (actually a long time ago). Depending on various factors (such as how long you were using the contraceptive, and so on) your normal menstrual cycle may be restored. Also remember that various other gynecological conditions could have arisen which may explain the lack of normal menstruation at this point. As you can see there are various factors to take into consideration and you will need to see a gynecologist who can advise you accordingly.

  • Hazel

    Hi I am having a menstrual period every 20-25 days and it is brownish black without odor the entire week of my period. I had a small accreta in February that was causing excessive bleeding since the birth of my daughter in sept 2015. I had a d&c that removed the excess placenta. I suffer from PCOS and prior to the birth of my baby was never able to have a period on my own. Is this likely my new “normal” or is this something I should worry about? Thanks!

  • Hi Hazel. It can be difficult to define a normal period in these circumstances. Given your medical history you need to follow up wih your gynecologist. This could very well be your “new normal”. Many women with PCOS find that the condition eases to some degree with pregnancy and childbirth. However, this does not mean that your PCOS has resolved entirely. Your gynecologist will be able to advise you further.

  • Hi Jerdy. If your blood discharge has not resolved by now then it is advisable that you speak to your doctor. This may not be related to menstruation. It could in fact be a bladder infection. which is why you are only noticing it when you urinate. A discharge may also occur with a urinary tract infection. (UTI). Even if you do not have typical UTI symptoms like frequent urination or burning when you urinate, it could still be a UTI. Your doctor will be able to assess and advise you further.