Pink discharge: 11 causes and treatment

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The vaginal discharge has a lot to talk about the health of a woman, specifically it’s color. The pinkish-brown color of the discharge is a concern of worry for many women.  But this discoloration can be due to many factors. It is commonly observed during the menstruation of the woman. Mostly, it is not a matter of concern. However, such discharge can be seen during pregnancy or any other health issue.

pink-brownish discharge

Causes for pink-brownish discharge

  • Menstruation

Here, pinkish-brown discharge is seen sporadically in the few days initial to the periods as the body is preparing itself for menstruation. This discoloration can be noted towards the end of the menses, which is completely normal. Fresh blood appears red or pink while the older blood due to clotting turns dark brown.

  • Irritation

Vaginal or cervical irritation can lead to pink, red, or brown discharge. Also, sometimes having intercourse or putting an object within the vagina can cause irritation which eventually leads to bleeding. The irritation of the cervix can be due to infection, exposure to chemicals, and trauma. Moreover, along with the abnormal discharge, the woman may suffer from pain during intercourse or even itching in the cervix or vagina.

  • Birth control

Initiation or replacement of hormonal contraceptive methods can lead to insignificant discharge from the body, it can either be pink, red, or brown. Any of the birth control may cause hormonal imbalance, which could result in breakthrough bleeding. This type of bleeding often occurs in women who :

– missed their pills or forgets to change the birth control patch or ring

– becomes sick or dehydrate in mid-cycle

– take antibiotics

– insertion of Intrauterine device (IUD)

  • Hypomenorrhea

Women who have less bleeding during menses are called hypomenorrhea and this bleeding can be just pink or brown discharge. Usually, a normal menstrual cycle comprises 24 to 38 days and menstruation occurs for almost 8 days. But in an irregular cycle, this range is not followed. Such irregular periods can be due to :

– Breastfeeding

– Age

– Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

– Heavy exertion

– Stress

  • Ovulation bleeding

The process of ovulation, the egg is being released from an ovary. This process occurs during the mid of the menstrual cycle. Many women, notice ovulation bleeding as slight spotting or very light-colored discharge consisting of blood. This discharge is experienced along with ovulation cramps.

  • Implantation bleeding

After fertilization, a fertilized egg is implanted in the walls of the uterus, it is called implantation. Some women may observe light spotting or pinkish discharge, while some may experience mild cramps during implantation.  Implantation usually happens during the time of the next menses and can be confused with the light menstrual cycle. After implantation bleeding occurs, early signs of pregnancy also occur like :

– Headaches

– Breast tenderness

– Backaches

– Breast tenderness

– Food aversions

– Fatigue

  • Infections

Infections like sexually transmitted infections can cause pinkish-brown discharge. Other infections causing such discharge are :

– Gonorrhea

– Bacterial vaginosis

– Chlamydia

– Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

  • Hormonal imbalance

Menstruation is a result of hormone and hormonal variation can change the color of a woman’s vaginal discharge at a certain point in her cycle. Low levels of hormones can influence when and how the uterus shed off its lining and may result in spotting.

  • Ovarian cyst

Ovarian cysts are determined as fluid-filled sacs that develop in the ovaries. This is normally seen in reproductive age group females, during ovulation and disappearing during menstruation. Many times, an ovarian cyst may not resolve on its own and may grow even larger. This causes a change in discharge between the periods. Many women may remain asymptomatic while some may experience changes along with abnormal discharge :

– Pain and distension of lower abdomen

– Pain during intercourse

– Pain with urination

– Vomiting and nausea

  • Miscarriage

Any pregnancy loss within 20 weeks of pregnancy is considered a miscarriage. This miscarriage is mostly noticed as brown bleeding or pink-colored mucous discharge. But sometimes, a woman may bleed in the initial three months of her pregnancy without having a miscarriage.

  • Ectopic pregnancy

If the implantation of the uterus takes place other than its usual site (uterus), it is referred to as ectopic pregnancy. In such a pregnancy, an embryo cannot develop properly. One of the most common signs of ectopic pregnancy is abnormal vagal bleeding of pink or brown colour. This bleeding will be lighter or heavier than regular menstruation.

Treatment

This pink discharge can be a part of the menstrual cycle or a temporary side effect of any hormonal contraception. The treatment of abnormal discharge completely depends upon the cause.

  • Estrogen imbalances can be treated with hormonal replacement therapy.
  • The breakthrough bleeding which occurs due to hormonal contraception would stop within a few months but if it doesn’t then, the woman should consult a doctor.
  • Ovarian cysts resolve on their own but for larger or multiple cysts, surgery is an option.
  • Ectopic pregnancy is treated with medications like methotrexate or can be removed through surgery.
  • Miscarriage usually resolves on their own but if the fetus is not cleared from the uterus completely then dilatation and curettage are performed by the doctor.
  • Infections such as STIs and PID may be treated with antibiotics.

When to see a doctor

Pink discharge is not a matter of worry usually if it happens during the expected menses. But if, it is noticed during pregnancy then, doctor consultation is important. Any pain along with it may indicate ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Pink discharge is often uncommon after menopause and thus requires an appointment with the doctor.

Conclusion

Pink discharge can be considered normal if it is not caused due to the above-mentioned causes and may not seek any medical advice. But in case, if a woman experiences this along with back pain or pain during urination, then she should visit a doctor immediately.

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27812268/

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