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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???

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