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Vaginal discharge is the result of secretions produced from small glands in the lining of the vagina and the cervix. All women have a little discharge starting a year or two before puberty and ending after the menopause.

How much discharge a woman notices changes from time to time and it will change quite a lot between periods and during whole reproductive period (from 15 to 44). Different persons can have different volume of “normal” discharge depending on age, menstrual cycle, period duration, hormonal balance and sexual activities.

The amount of discharge varies from girls to girls and from woman to woman. Different persons have different opinions of what is normal. But if it always involves using panty shields, or changing protection or underwear several times a day, then it is probably heavier than normal.

The amount of discharge is often influenced by hormonal changes in the woman’s body. The week before a period, being pregnant or using the oral contraceptive pills are all typically associated with an increase in vaginal discharge. A normal physiological discharge is usually clear and/or transparent, creamy and/or very slightly yellow.


The light brown discharge is actually a mixture of blood remains and vaginal discharge. The presence of blood cells can give color to the vaginal discharge resulting in light brown discharge. Actually the color of your vaginal discharge can range from pink to brown – all color nuances depend on presence of blood cells which could be fresh or old. In general old blood gives brown color and mixed with vaginal secretion it can become light brown discharge.

Usually light brown discharge is not heavy like your periods – it could appear at different time (before period, after period, instead of period, in the middle of the menstrual cycle, unexpected irregular time).


Most common causes of the light brown discharge include pregnancy, vaginal atrophy, uterine polyps, perimenopause and menopause.


Early stage of pregnancy can be a cause for light brown discharge. In early pregnancy light brown discharge is usually harmless and caused by hormonal changes, fertilization and/or implantation. But sometimes it could be an alarming signal for pregnancy problems.

Several hormones are responsible for normal regular menstrual cycles. During pregnancy level of hormones is dramatically changed and it could trigger light brown discharge instead of regular period or can also trigger unexpected light brown discharge in early pregnancy. Actually light brown discharge could be the first pregnancy symptom.

If you are pregnant, the fertilized egg embedding into the uterus lining causing light bleeding. This kind of bleeding called implantation bleeding – it is harmless and lasts a day or two.

Sometimes light brown discharge could be a symptom of early miscarriage – it usually happens when pregnancy is not developing properly. Bleeding from a miscarriage don’t stop and becomes steadily heavier. Some women could have miscarriage even before they realize that they’re pregnant.

Unfortunately light brown discharge sometimes could be a symptom of ectopic pregnancy which usually happens when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus (commonly in Fallopian Tubes). If you have an ectopic pregnancy, the bleeding may keep going and be dark and watery – light brown discharge. In all cases of ectopic pregnancy urgent medical interventions are needed.

Light brown discharge can be an alarming symptom of molar pregnancy which is pretty rare pathology. Molar pregnancy affects only about one in 1000 pregnancies. Molar pregnancy happens when the embryo doesn’t develop properly but some of the cells that form the placenta continue to grow and multiply. Molar pregnancy is pretty dangerous situation and emergency medical care is needed.


Perimenopause is a naturally occurring transition period of women life which is happening before menopause – it is the time when your body begins its transition into menopause. Perimenopause is the stage of women’s reproductive life that begins several years before menopause (2-8 years), when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogens. It usually starts in women’s 40s, but can start in women’s 30s. The beginning of perimenopause and its length differ from case to case. During perimenopause women could experience several unusual symptoms including irregular light brown discharge and/or dark brown discharge, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, insomnia and mood swings.

Vaginal Atrophy

In general the vaginal atrophy occurs due to loss of estrogen in the body (typical for menopause and/or other hormonal dysfunctions and/or cancer and chemotherapy). Drop in the level of estrogen makes the vaginal tissues thinner, less elastic, drier and more fragile. The blood vessels become weak, and more prone to bursting spontaneously. Vaginal atrophy quite often results in light brown discharge.

Uterine Polyps

Light brown discharge could be a symptom of uterine polyps. Fortunately uterine polyps are not common condition for women – uterine polyps are described as the growths which are attached to the inner wall of the uterus and are protruding into the cavity of the uterus. This is caused by the overgrowth of cells in the endometrium. The size of uterine polyps may range from a few millimeters to several centimeters. The outgrowths remain attached to the wall of the uterus by a thin stalk or a large base. Uterine polyps can occur as single or in group. The uterine polyps generally occur in women after 40 or in young women with hormonal dysfunction or in women during specific hormonal treatments. Light brown discharge will disappear if polyps will be removed or treated.

Cervical irritation and/or cervical polyps

Light brown discharge id very typical for cervical irritation and cervical polyps. Sometimes the cervix (opening of the uterus) could be irritated for several reasons (mainly cervical infections and hormonal changes). Pregnancy hormones can also change the surface of the cervix, making it more likely to bleed – it this cases women notice light brown discharge after intercourse.

Cervical polyps also can be a result of hormonal dysfunctions and could be easily treated and/or removed.

Hormonal treatment

Sometimes during intensive hormonal treatments for infertility or other medical conditions, women suffer from unexpected light brown discharge. Some women notice light brown discharge during IVF procedures or during similar treatments for infertility. Sometimes you can have light brown discharge because of the way your babies were conceived. Sometimes two embryos could be put into the uterus but after implantation one may not go on to develop. This is called a vanishing twin and it can trigger some light brown discharge or even some bleeding.


  1. I have had brown spotting for 4 months
    I have recently seen a specialist and been diagnosed with Adenomyosis

  2. This morning I woke up with tan/light brown discharge on my underwear. I’m 13 and Ive never had my period???

  3. Almost 14th day of my periods I hve slight brown discharge. Ths month I had periods four days before the normal date nd 11th day frm period I had light brown discharge..

    • with this little info difficult to advice but it looks like you are taking birth control pills and sometimes missing pills

  4. I never really keep track of when I spot brown or light brown discharges but when I have it they usually stick around for 2-4 days (i rarely have it but they are on and off). I am a tomboy and I usually wear boxers, today when I went to the bathroom I realized some light colored blood in a silky form ( very little amount) with some watery transparent discharge after I pee. I was wondering what might caused it…it is because the boxer might have scratched my vagina that caused the bleeding or something else..

    • you should check on which days of your menstrual cycle you have brown discharge; if it is not correlated to the cycle, it could be your boxers or vaginal infection

  5. I’ve been on birth control for 5 years so have not had a period in 5 years I’m 21.. I just quit taking it and am having a milky light brown discharge I’m assuming it can’t be “old blood” since I haven’t had any bleeding. Do u know what this could be from? Just in case ur wondering I don’t have any symptoms like itching or smell.

    • it means you start birth control pills from 16 – for 5 non-stop years?!?
      At 16 you are still very young and your hormones are not developed fully – during 5 years birth control pills suppressed all female hormones and now your body will start recovering and it could take several months – just be patient and wait few months – brown discharge in your case means not enough hormones to make you normal menstruation

  6. I just finish my period some time last week, yesterday I realize this dark brown discharge and this morning when I got up I pee when I wiped I seen a little blood but it’s not as red as usual menstraul blood it was watery n light red

    • could be late uterine “cleaning”

  7. Hi Dr., so I am really worried of what’s going on with my body. According to the app I have I am on a 41 day cycle. In March I had my period from the 25-31st. Then I didn’t get my period at all during April, which was expected on the 25-26th but nothing. I finally got it on May 5-10. It is now June 5th and I haven’t gotten my period but since May 31st I have gotten lower back pain and on June 3rd I started having super light almost watery brown discharge after I pee till today. I am super worried because I don’t know when I ovulate and it’s scary because my husband and I tend to be intimate quite frequently. Is this just pmsing, ovulation? Am I even ovulating? I’m confused. Should I wait till the 15 to get my period since it’s on that 41 day cycle. Any help would be amazing. Thank you!

  8. 2 months ago I had what I think is a period it was extremely thick dark brown and not as watery as usual. Then I had a normal period about 25 days later. I’m about to expect my next period in about week and im have light brown discharge. Do you know why I may have had that thick period and now this light brown discharge? Thank you in advance!

    • could be inflammation

  9. I’ve had brown discharge the last couple of days, but I’m not sexually active, and I’ve never had to take medicine for anything having to do with my vagina. I’m only 16?

    • don’t worry – it could be stress, emotional disturbances, weight change, travel, change of diet, etc.

  10. I’ve had a period, a 5 day long spurt of brown discharge and another spurt of brown discharge which began 1 day ago in the space of 2.5 weeks

    • possible causes – birth control pills (missed pills, wrongly used pulls); hormonal dysfunction; endometriosis

  11. I had sex a month ago and my period ended a week ago. Yesterday morning I found the light brown discharge, which I am still receiving. Could this be spotting even though I had my period?

  12. I’m 57 haven’t had a period in over 10 years. Last month and now again today I have a light brown sticky discharge. It just seems to drop out of me. No other symptoms. Is this something I should be worried about. I’ve been on Premarin for 8+ years.

    • sometimes Premarin could be a cause for brown discharge BUT – many studies already noted that estrogens (like Premarin) after 50 could trigger cancer – it will be safe to visit your gynecologist and take test

  13. Hello, I am 13 and just got my period two weeks in a row. This is the first time it happened so I’m not too worried it’s an imbalance. I had never used tampons until this period so those are maybe a factor.I also recently had strep throat and got a yeast infection from the antibiotics. Five days after my period started it slowed and nearly stopped but I noticed a little blood in my underwear wondering now if it was discharge because I just had a little light brown discharge and have also been noticing occasionally itching. I’m hoping this is just and irregular period and some routine cleaning, but should I find a gynecologist and get checked out or am I alright and just let it resolved its self?

  14. My last period was May 25 thru May 31 2015 my app said I ovulated June 8 9 10 11 I had sex on June 8 and 9 and on June 11 I started spotting brown discharge and I’m still spotting now and it’s light brown discharge. Could it be my period coming . I’m suppose to start till June 26

    • if you had hormonal treatment for ovulation, it could be side effect of medicine or spotting because of super-ovulation (ovulation with big follicle);
      if you are having natural ovulation – it could be just ovulation spotting – most probably you are very stressed and stress making uterine contractions and spotting; check your basal temperature –

  15. I just ended my period last week and I had a light brown discharge today what does it mean

    • many healthy women have 1-2 days brown discharge after period – it is OK

  16. I had intercourse and the day after i woke up with brown spot on my undies. I thought it was my period but i had just gotten it 14 days ago. I continued to spot dark brown/ light pink for two days now it stopped.. What could this be dr?

    • most probably it is just a small trauma after intercourse

  17. I have been having a light brown discharge for about a week now and some slight pains in my lower abdominal. I have irregular periods and a few months ago i was diagnosed with dysfunctional uterine bleeding so my periods has been slightly off. I haven’t had my period this month yet and I am worried. What can be the cause of this? I’m not having any vaginal pain just can sometimes feel when the discharge comes out.

    • it is your hormones – you need proper medical treatment

  18. I am a 15 year old girl, I have only hadthree periods. My first period in December of 2012, second one was March 2014, third one was December 2014, all lasted a week. Then January of 2015 I had light brown stuff in my underwear it almost looked like make up. It was very little but it lasted a little under a week. now it is June 2015 and I have the light brown stuff again. I was woundering if you had any clue what it could be due too?

    • menstrual cycle should be stabilized at 16 – normally you should already have regular periods – important to understand why you have brown discharge instead of periods – check your weight – your BMI should be 18.5 – 24.9 – check in –

      • it the girl that asked the question, I checked my him and it is below normal. so I guess being underweight is why.

  19. Hi, I have been having light brown discharge since the day after my period was ended and it has been about 2 weeks now. Sometimes it slightly looks like blood. I’m not on any birth control pills. My period is not very regular either. I’m really worried, would you have any ideas of why this is happening? Thank you!

    • possible causes – stress? vaginal infection? medication? hormonal disturbances?

  20. I had period June it’s dark brown discharge to light brown creamy discharge. .I have copper iud and it’s in place. ..

  21. I have irregular periods and ive never kept track. When they come its random. I had intercourse last thursday (todays monday now) and when I wiped after, it looked like light brown/red blood color? So i thought i might have my period soon but nothing yet. It’s always light brown after i wipe after arousal? What does this mean? I took a pregnancy test and im not pregnant. On thursday and friday my side/lower back was slightly sore. Help?

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