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.
  • tfwhite89

    Last month, I did not have a normal menstral cycle. I spotted only twice on different days and my blood spotted brown. I had a little cramping, but it was nothing. I took a home test and blood test done for pregnancy; both were negative. This month is the same thing, only my discharge is a little heavier. It stops, and the next day starts again, but very very lightly. I also have been having occasional abdominal pains. I also started taking medicine for an underactive thyroid, I have panic attacks, I had my gall bladder taken out last November, and also have a history of yeast infections, but have not had one since I was 12 years old; I am now 20. I had a PAP smear in January so I know I do not have any STDs or cervical cancer.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Tfwhite

    For a young woman, there is a lot going on with your body and you need to ensure that you are under specialist medical care. The brown vaginal bleed could be indicative of an infection (maybe bacterial) so you should see a gynecologist. Hypothyroidism can also affect your menstrual cycle and contribute to other gynecological problems. It would be worth seeing a gynecologist and having a complete examination. The changes in your menses may be the sign of a gynecological disorder is present and developing.

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  • noor

    I started bleeding brownish blood yesterday. The flow is very little, its not like blood when one has their period. I am 18 years old and do not have a steady menstrual cycle.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Noor

    This could just be delayed contents where the blood has broken down further than normal. However, if you notice an offensive or fishy odor, there is pain or it persists for more than a day or two, then you should see your doctor immediately. Speak to your gynecologist about your irregular periods. It is better to address the problem now while you are young.

  • lina

    i used to have whiteish or yellowish vaginal secretions, no itching or burning i dont think, and no odor also, but this has been going on for like 2 or 3 months. and now, after my last period im think i have like brown jelly serections. im just 18, i have had sexual relations, i think i might have an infection, im really scared.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Lina

    Vaginal secretions are normal, especially around the time of ovulation. It can vary from a clear to whitish discharge. Yellow to brown is a cause for concern, especially brown. It could be an infection and therefore needs to be investigated. It may also be a sign of blood flow being hampered or delayed possibly due to cervical inflammation and so on. Now that you are sexually active, your doctor will also need to consider a pap smear, etc.

  • mommyprincess

    My last period started on Sept 5th. It lasted my normal length of 7 days. This Tuesday, Sept 21, I noticed a brown discharge. It is not much but enough to have to wear a panty liner. It has not gone away yet. There is no smell, that I am aware of. I have no pain. Could this be a symptom of PCOS? I am going in on Monday for an ultrasound to check for PCOS, this was scheduled about a month ago.

  • Rubi

    i have occasional dark brown vaginal discharge, a doctor told me that it was old blood. My concern is that lately i have been getting this a couple of weeks after my period, and its a lot, enough to soak a pantiliner, its currently my fourth day experiencing this. I also have tingling in my legs often times, when i am sitting down. The center of my right foot twitches a lot too. I havent had any sexual relations, and i am 18.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Mommyprincess

    It could be PCOS but there are other causes that need to be excluded depending on your age and past medical history. A second bleed within the month that is lasting for so long needs to be attended. It is difficult to say whether this is definitely PCOS and your doctor will be able to advise you accordingly after doing the ultrasound and possibly any blood tests that may be required.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Rubi

    Yes, this is often old blood that may follow a few days after your period. However for it to occur weeks after your period can be related to other conditions like an infection and certain gynecological disorders. You should see a gynecologist at this point. The leg numbness may be related to a separate condition. However conditions like numbness and twitching may also be a sign of anemia which could be related to heavy blood loss. You should see a doctor.

  • Jina

    Hi,

    I’m a 24 years old girl. I’m not married and never had a sexual relationship with anyone.

    I was normally a chubby kid since I was little an had my 1st menstruation when I was 11 years old.But I could only have a normal cycle about up to 1-1 1/2 years from then on. During that time I was perfectly in shape.

    Since I was about 13-14 years old I never had a regular menstrual cycle and gotten fat again. Sometimes the cycle delays up to about 6-8 months and my stomach gets very big.
    But when the cycle starts I bleed for about 7 days in big amounts and enlargen stomach gets smaller again.

    I went to few specialists when was around 18. They did tests and said there’s nothing wrong with my womb or any other reproductive organs.And said that it’ll be alright when I grow up.

    Then I was about 20 years old my parents took me to a Ayurvedic doctor, she gave me medicine to make the cycle regular. The cycle got regular, I started having menstruation within 28-30 days and up to 3-5 days and got perfectly in shaped again.I took medication for about 1 year and then she said let’s stop because my cycle has gotten normal. So I stopped and when I was about 22 years old cycle got irregular again and I started to get chubby again with a severe acne breakout.
    Even during my teenage years I didn’t get acne. Only mild pimples could see on my face once in a while. This breakout was almost unstoppable and I even got acne on my upper chest. It lasted for about 8 months and went away on its own.

    About that time I started bleeding only minor amount of brown from my vagina for about 7-8 days monthly.
    ( Usually few days before and after this happens I get vaginal discharge which slightly looks yellowish and outside area of my vagina gets very itchy.)

    Then it delayed and happened about once only a 3-4 months. And then stopped.

    It didn’t happened about in 6-7 months.
    But about 3-4 weeks ago I started getting minor amount of brownish blood clots (only clots) from my vagina.This was not even sufficient enough to touch my panties. It stopped after about 1 week.
    And today I start getting blood clots from my vagina again. But they are red.
    (And I have gotten even more fat during past month.)

    I don’t know what to do. Can you please help me?

    Thank you very much.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Jina

    It sounds like you have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). This will need to be confirmed by a gynecologist. I would advise that you find a gynecologist with whom you are comfortable and attend regular appointments. The cyst or cysts may have grown significantly in size and needs to be attended to immediately if it is PCOS. Your gynecologist will advise your further. If you don’t get this attended to, it can very likely affect your fertility so don’t delay. See a reputable gynecologist in your area.

  • Kansas

    I’m just 16 and I have never seen a doctor for my period, but I have had sexual relations in the past. I have been checked and do not have any STDs. My period always starts with dark brown blood… then lightens up to red and the whole time it is a pretty heavy flow. I just began taking birth control a month ago, but this brown blood has been occurring for a while. Is this serious?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Kansas

    It is difficulty to say if this is serious. If it has always been a part of your menstrual cycle and your periods are regular then it is unlikely to be serious. But you should see a gynecologist if you have not already done so. Remember that some STD’s are not always as easily detectable and may go through remission-like phases where all seems well. See a gynecologist.

  • Nikki65043

    Okay 2 months ago I got my period and it only lasted 2 days the norm is 5 then this month I had it for 2 days agin but it was only brown. I dont smell or have pain. I have been under alot of stress ( My aunt was killed) I have a flybroid tumor and dont know if that could cause this? I just want to know what is wronge.

  • Nikki65043

    Also I am 24 and married with 2 kids one 10 and one 3 if that helps

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Nikki65043

    Stress could definitely upset your menstrual cycle but may not entirely explain the change in bleed to this brown blood. A fibroid tumor could cause it. What has to be ascertained is whether there is any cervical obstruction. You should see a gynecologist immediately. Even though there is no smell or pain, you may be missing something serious by not seeking medical attention.

  • nygirl

    Hi,
    I am 18 years old & I have had an irregular period since I was 13 years old. I have 1 cyst on my right ovary which my gynecologist has said is the cause of my irregular period & pain during them. Since it isn’t large enough to remove she just wants to monitor it yearly but is not treating it. I have never been sexually active & I usually get 4 periods a year so I had not been surprised when I had not gotten my period for the past 3 (almost 4) months. But yesterday I started to have pain & vomiting .. which usually means I am getting my period & I woke up to dark brown blood, usually I have a heavy first day but it hasn’t been too heavy but the color has me worried. Is this something I need to be worried about?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi NYGirl

    If you have not seen your gynecologist recently, then yes, it it MAY be something to worry about. Your condition may be progressing and there may be other considerations like endometriosis which has not been detected as yet. Given your history, it would be advisable to see your gynecologist immediately and report these symptoms.

  • opalinemoon

    I have been on Depo Provera since July and I have been constantly worried that I am pregnant on it. I have lower back pain, bloating,… and other symptoms of pregnancy.
    I know that it is nearly impossible for me to be pregnant while on depo, but the anxiety is killing me.
    Yesterday, I started bleeding, at first red, and now brown clots. Not much, but enough to be a concern.
    Could I have been pregnant and had a miscarraige?
    If not, what could be the cause of this?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Opalinemoon

    You first need to rule out pregnancy. This means doing a pregnancy test or going to your doctor and having a blood test and ultrasound done. It is also possible that you were pregnant and miscarried. There is no way of knowing for sure unless you do the necessary test. A hormonal fluctuation for whatever reason may have initiated the bleeding, especially if you used any medication (apart from the contraceptive injection) that could have altered your hormone levels. It is advisable that you speak to your doctor about this.

  • worried girl

    hi
    am 24 and married. i have been trying to conceive for some time now. when i have my periods (regular 28 day cycle) i have awful cramps, backpain(before and after) and a lot of blood. i thought i was pregnant this month but on day 27 i started to bleed but very lightly no cramps, no backpain, and the colour brown and dark. this lasted for three days. is this my period or could it be something else.
    thanks in advance

  • injapanland

    Dear Dr. Chris,

    I have a concern about my menstrual cycle and I was wondering if you could give me some advice?

    First of all, I started when I was 14 (now 20), and, unlike most girls, have been extremely REGULAR. I have never missed a period, and they have always been about the same. My cycle is a longer cycle (Usually 7~8 days),the beginning being pretty heavy and ending with a brownish/black blood.

    My problem is that this month, it has been completely different. It started with brown and has stayed light for four days.

    I’m completely ruling out pregnancy since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man for 7 months.

    I moved to Japan to study three months ago, so it is slightly difficult for me to casually consult a doctor as my Japanese isn’t very good yet.

    However, if you believe that it is a matter in which I should consult a doctor, I will.

    One more piece of information: My family has a history of Hypothyroidism. Both my mother and her mother have been diagnosed. Not sure if that might have something to do with it.

    Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it.

    injapanland

  • monicaj

    im 24, i’ve had an irregular cycle for years, was on the pill for about 3yrs and last time i used them was march of this yr. i had to take a morning after pill early april, still got my period every month, until august. i skipped 2 months, finally got my period, but i hasnt stopped. i had it normal for about a week, spotted, went away for a day or 2,spotted, then nov. got it regular and since then to now, i bleed or think i bleed but its been pink, dark red, light brown, dark. should i be worried? i got some results back and i have a uti and yeats infection. but could it be something other than that?
    thank you!

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Worried Girl

    It could be your period but the brown bleeding is a cause for concern. It may be related to a delay in the menstrual blood exiting the uterus. Another concern here is that you may have fallen pregnant but miscarried which will explain much of what you experienced. You should see a doctor as soon as possible.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Injapanland

    The odd change in your periods is not always a cause for concern unless you experiencing excessive bleeding, severe pain, dizziness, fainting and so on. But if it persists, you need to have it investigated. A number of non-gynecological causes can result in a change in the menstrual cycle for a month or son.

    While hypothyroidism is one of the possible causes of the change in menses as you describe, it cannot be solely diagnosed by this symptom. You will need to have it investigate further with appropriate blood tests and so on.

    Apart from this, you seem to have no other symptoms and it could be due a number of different causes, some of which are covered in this article. Any change in menstruation should be investigated by a doctor even if it seems mild and harmless at this point.

    There are English speaking doctors in Japan so you should start off with one of the local hospitals and get a referral from there.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Monicaj

    Yes, it could be more than just a UTI, especially when considering your medical history. You should see a gynecologist because this problem has been ongoing although the presentation has varied over the years. Right now the concern is that the bleeding is continuously present to some extent and this may be linked to a disturbance in your hormone levels. Get it checked up as soon as possible because in the long run it could lead to a host of complications and even affect your fertility.

  • elizabethb

    Ive been having problems with my cycles. My last normal period was in sept. I didnt have a period in october. and in november I had one day of pink light bleeding. then this month (dec) i had one day of brown spotting. both nov. and dec i had no cramps or warning of approaching period. i took a pregnancy test last week which was negative. ive also had headachs, food cravings, bloated, slight swollen breasts, some nausea, and fatigue. I am married and have suffered infertility. ive been told by some drs. i have pcos, other say i do not. up until recently my periods have been regular. im confused and would like to know what this could possibly be. any help would be appreciated. thank you!

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Elizabethb

    PCOS does seem like the most likely diagnosis. It is one of the most common gynecological conditions that cause these symptoms and infertility. However it needs to be diagnosed by a gynecologist and this depends on the findings on conducting blood tests, an ultrasound and evaluation of the clinical features. You can read up more on this article on PCOS Diagnosis.

    If the relevant tests are negative, then your doctor also needs to consider other hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism and so on. You will find more information here on PCOS Symptoms. Don’t get too distracted by the signs and symptoms only, some women have very mild symptoms and therefore the relevant tests need to be done.

    You may also be interested in reading up on PCOS Treatment.

  • nyiko1

    i’m on Depo, had unprotected sex and started bleeding. First normal blood and then dark brown for a week now can i be pregnant?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Nyiko1

    Only a pregnancy test will be able to tell you if you are pregnant. It is possible that you are or this could be related to an infection. Speak to your doctor.

  • Donz

    I had my “period a week early 7.12.10, red blood lasted 5 days, then on the 20th got really sore boobs , on 24th started bleeding again dark blood very crampy , had ectopic 07 had my rt tube removed ttc since any ideas ? Bit worried thanks

  • amber1

    hi, i had sex about 3 weeks ago and within that three weeks i’ve had back achs, side ach, and spotting for the last two days i had blood spotting and it was the color brown a real dark brown close to black somewhat. i dont know if im pregnant because but i havent came on my period yet. i have felt sick a little bit but never threw up and i have had stomach pains and never had tender breast but i dont know i been tired a little bit but at times i jus cant got to sleep till late like about this time so i think that could be the reason why im soo tired but i jus cant tell if im pregnant or whats wrong with me because i never bleed this color blood.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Amber1

    You need to have a pregnancy test. Pregnancy always needs to be ruled out in a woman of childbearing age before other gynecological conditions are excluded. So first focus on that. It is not uncommon for some women to not have the typical symptoms of pregnancy in the first few weeks to 2 months. It is best that you speak to your doctor and discuss the options with him. Apart from pregnancy, he/she may also want to do tests for sexually transmitted diseases. There are many STD’s that can causes these symptoms and therefore have to be considered as well.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Donz

    A lot depends on a host of factors, especially recent events, changes in medication and the presence of other signs and symptoms which you have not mentioned. You should see your gynecologist just to be on the safe side. Hopefully you do regularly consult with a gynecologist who will have all your case details on file. Pregnancy, possibly with complications, needs to be excluded as well.

  • Melanie

    I had a natural miscarriage 6 weeks ago . For the past 2 days I’ve been having brown discharge just enough for one panty liner the hole day. Bad breast pain . I’m scard I’ve had 2 children and a few miscarriages which 2 were ectopic. This last one was a early miscarriage I’m having heartburn menstrual cramp but no period just brown spotting . Can someone givenme advice

  • Kaylee

    I have been having brown/purple bleeding for about a week some days enough for a tampon. I just recently had hip surgery right before the bleeding. Could the bledding be from that or should I call my obgyn?