Vaginal discharge is a normal occurrence throughout a woman's menstrual cycle. Some women experience transparent, stretchy, or watery discharge close to ovulation. Others have a brown discharge following their period, which has several different causes. Brown discharge may simply be the vagina ridding of any excess blood, or it may be something more serious like the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea. It is always beneficial to consult your gynecologist.
A delayed period may lead to brown discharge during and after menstruation. A common cause is the endometrial tissue being discharged from the body. Excess endometrial tissue that did not exit the body during your period can be expelled in the form of red or dark brown discharge after it. This is a normal cleansing process of the uterus and is not cause for concern.
However, brown discharge could indicate damage to the reproductive system - a much more serious health issue that requires medical attention. Implantation bleeding or spotting after a woman conceives may also appear as dark red or brown discharge. If the brownish bloody spotting occurs mere days after unprotected sexual intercourse and within about two weeks from your last period, you may be pregnant. A pregnancy test should be taken.
The following causes would result in a number of other symptoms in addition to brown discharge.
Yeast Infection - The Candida albicans fungus is responsible for yeast infections. Yeast is present in moist areas of the body. Yeast vulvitis and yeast vaginitis are two common forms. These yeast infections are characterized by inflammation of the vagina and the external genital organs. Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of vaginal yeast. It is not sexually transmitted. Symptoms include vaginal itching, pain during intercourse, burning, soreness, and thick, white, odorless discharge resembling cottage cheese. The white discharge may turn yellow or light brown once expelled from vagina to the undergarments. Yeast infections may be treated with antifungal medication and oral medications.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) - BV occurs due to an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. Brown vaginal discharge accompanied by a foul, fishy odor is the most common symptom of BV. The risk of BV increases with douching, having multiple sexual partners, use of a contraceptive intrauterine devices, and smoking cigarettes. While BV is not contagious, bacteria may be spread through sexual intercourse, thereby potentially predisposing someone to a bacterial imbalance. Antibiotics are prescribed for women affected with BV.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - PID is a disease affecting a woman's reproductive organs. PID may be caused by Chlamydia trachomatis or Neisseria gonorrhea. Infertility is a significant risk for women with PID. PID may cause such symptoms as heavy vaginal discharge, irregular menstrual bleeding, pain during sexual intercourse, abdominal pain, back pain, and pain when passing urine. Antibiotics and pain medications may be prescribed for women with PID.
There are many more causes of brown discharge after your period, including cervical cancer, vaginal warts, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and other sexually transmitted diseases. This discharge should not be ignored. Seeking immediate medical attention will facilitate early diagnosis if there are any underlying conditions. Alternatively, ignoring this discharge may exacerbate a serious health threat.