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Brown Discharge in Pregnancy: Should I Be Worried?

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jul 17, 2023

Brown Discharge in Pregnancy: Should I Be Worried?

Once you learn of your pregnancy, you may wonder, What’s going to happen to my body now? On top of my baby bump, what other changes should I expect? For instance, you might ask if pregnancy will affect your vaginal discharge. Is brown discharge in pregnancy normal, or should I be worried? Experts say brown discharge in pregnancy doesn’t always mean there’s something wrong. Here’s what you need to know about brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy. 

Does Brown Vaginal Discharge Point to Bleeding? 

Normal vaginal discharge is usually clear to milky white — like thin mucus. When you’re pregnant, this type of discharge may cause you to worry, but note that it is not a sign of infection, STDs, or cancer. It is typically secretions from the cervix (the lower part of the uterus) and vagina that help keep your reproductive organs clean.

If your vaginal discharge takes on a brownish tinge, it usually means it contains blood that has already oxidized (mixed with oxygen, no longer new). While it might point to bleeding, some types of bleeding are not a cause for concern, such as implantation bleeding and mild irritation to the cervix. 

Implantation Bleeding

One study noted that slight bleeding is not uncommon during the early stage of pregnancy. It’s possible that the spotting is due to implantation bleeding.

Implantation bleeding occurs when the embryo implants into your uterine lining. It may look like a light pink or brown spotting on underwear and lasts for a few days. Implantation bleeding usually happens about 2 weeks after conception.

If you’re experiencing what you think is implantation bleeding, it’s best to speak with your doctor immediately so they can help put your mind at ease and answer any questions that come up along the way.

Mild Irritation in the Cervix

The cervix is the end part of the uterus or womb. It is the one that stretches or dilates during labor, which healthcare practitioners measure by centimeters. The cervix is highly vascular, meaning it has a lot of blood vessels. That also means it can easily bleed when irritated. 

Mild irritation can occur during sexual intercourse and medical examination. However, it can also result from an infection. For this reason, it’s best to contact your doctor if you experience brown discharge in pregnancy, even if you feel it’s nothing to worry about. 

Concerning Causes of Brown Vaginal Discharge

While implantation bleeding and mild irritation to the cervix are usually no cause for concern, please bear in mind that some possible causes of brown vaginal discharge threaten the health of both mother and child. 

Case in point: Brown discharge can happen due to ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when the fertilized egg implants anywhere outside the uterus, commonly in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancy can cause severe pain and bleeding and is a medical emergency. 

Talk to Your Doctor if You Have Any Concerns

If you experience any of the following symptoms, do not self-diagnose. Contact your doctor or health care provider immediately if you have:

  • Any type of vaginal discharge besides the normal, thin clear to white mucus. Hence, if you have even a slight bleeding or brown discharge in pregnancy, contact your doctor as soon as possible. 
  • A heavy feeling in your stomach or abdominal pain. 
  • Persistent itching or tingling in the area around your vagina or pain during urination. 
  • Vaginal discharge that has a strong or foul odor. 

Key Takeaways

If you’re experiencing brown vaginal discharge during pregnancy, you should always contact your doctor. There are a number of reasons why this could be happening and it’s important to rule out any serious or dangerous causes. A doctor can perform an exam and make sure there aren’t any worrisome signs like fever or pain in the belly area. 

Learn more about Labor and Delivery here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jul 17, 2023

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