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    Brown Discharge & Early Pregnancy: Understanding the Causes & Next Steps

    Brown Discharge & Early Pregnancy: Understanding the Causes & Next Steps

    Updated on 15 September 2023

    Medically Reviewed by

    Dr. Shruti Tanwar

    C-section & gynae problems - MBBS| MS (OBS & Gynae)

    Pregnancy is a beautiful journey filled with various changes in a woman's body. However, these changes can sometimes cause anxiety, especially when something unusual happens. One such topic of concern among expecting moms is brown discharge & early pregnancy. Brown discharge in pregnancy first trimester can be a cause for worry for many women, as they wonder whether it's normal or something to be concerned about.

    In this article, we will explore the causes of brown discharge in early pregnancy, whether it's normal, and when to seek medical attention.

    Is brown discharge normal in early pregnancy?

    Vaginal discharge is a common occurrence, irrespective of whether you're pregnant or not. A white vaginal discharge or leucorrhoea is a natural phenomenon. However, a brown discharge especially during pregnancy sounds alarm bells, as the brown colour is comparable to the colour of the blood. Many women experience a thicker discharge during pregnancy because of hormonal changes.

    In most cases, brown discharge during pregnancy 6 weeks or earlier is a normal vaginal discharge with some amount of old blood. It shows that bleeding took place earlier and is discharging later, hence the colour brown. The source may be a cervix or vagina. Such as discharge is usually normal and should not be a reason to worry.

    Causes of brown discharge during early pregnancy

    A dark or light brown discharge during early pregnancy can be caused by a variety of factors such as:

    1. Implantation bleeding

    Around 6-12 days after fertilization, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine lining, causing slight bleeding. This can result in brownish discharge.

    2. Pregnancy-related changes

    Brown discharge in early pregnancy is usually because of changes in the vaginal pH. However, brown vaginal discharge may be because of certain physical activities like household chores, climbing stairs with a heavy load, or working out. This may last for 2-3 days and resolve on its own.

    2. Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

    An STI could also cause light brown discharge in pregnancy first trimester. It can be caused by unprotected sex and lead to symptoms like discharge with foul odour, pain or burning sensation while urinating and pelvic pain. An STI is a risk factor and needs urgent treatment with appropriate antibiotic therapy.

    3. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

    A UTI during pregnancy can also cause brown discharge. It is usually accompanied by symptoms like heaviness in bladder, pain or burning sensation while urinating, frequent urination and inability to completely empty the bladder.

    4. Mild cervical trauma

    Pregnancy makes cervical tissues more delicate as the body undergoes sudden hormonal changes, causing an increase in the flow of blood. This increases the probability of a brownish discharge following a minor irritation or injury. Even a regularl pelvic exam may cause trauma to the fine lining of the cervix, leading to brown discharge during pregnancy 6 weeks.

    5. Ectopic pregnancy

    Ectopic pregnancy is a condition where in the embryo implants and develops outside the uterus, in the fallopain tubes, ovaries or cervix. This leads to pregnancy loss which is accompanied by symptoms like brown discharge or bleeding, abdominal pain, vaginal heaviness etc.

    6. Miscarriage

    Brown discharge anytime within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy could also signal a miscarriage. It occurs with symptoms like heavy vaginal discharge, release of clots and tissues, abdominal cramps, lower back pain and lack of fetal movements.

    Remember, if you're experiencing brown discharge in early pregnancy, it's crucial to consult your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate guidance.

    You may also like: Ultrasound at 9 Weeks Pregnant: What to Expect & What are the Red Signals?

    What to do in case of brown discharge & early pregnancy?

    If you experience brown discharge during early pregnancy, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the cause and appropriate course of action. While brown discharge can be normal, it can also be a sign of potential complications. Here are a few steps you can take:

    1. Avoid sexual intercourse

    To reduce the risk of infection or further irritation, it is advisable to abstain from sexual intercourse until you have consulted with your healthcare provider.

    2. Rest and monitor your symptoms

    Take it easy and pay attention to any changes in the amount or color of your discharge. Monitoring oneself for accompanying symptoms like pain is necessary. It is important to discuss with the doctor during prenatal visits, even if the brown discharge was scanty and lasted for 2 or 3 days.

    3. Avoid using tampons or irritants

    Whether a lady experiences brown discharge early pregnancy or not, she must avoid any factors that may cause irritation to the genital parts like tampons or douches.These can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina and increase the risk of infection.

    You may also like: Cranberry Juice For Urine Infection: Myths & Tips

    4. Stay hydrated

    Aim to drink at least 12-15 glasses of water during a day. Drinking plenty of water can help maintain vaginal health and reduce the chances of infection.

    5. Keep it clean

    Using a mild soap for washing undergarments or avoiding overuse of soap while washing the genital area and using a gentle intimate wash are a few steps to prevent infection or irritation in the genital area.

    6. Contact your healthcare provider

    Explain your symptoms and any concerns you may have. They will be able to provide guidance and determine if further evaluation is needed. The doctor may recommend tests like ultrasound and blood examination to know the cause of the discharge.

    When should a mom-to-be consult a doctor?

    Most times a light brown discharge during early pregnancy should not cause concern. It is advisable to observe the quantity and smell of the discharge to determine its severity. Visiting a doctor is advisable if the following symptoms are present with brown discharge:

    • Discomfort, pain and cramps with a foul odour can be because of an infection.
    • A large amount of discharge which requires a sanitary napkin.
    • There is a possibility of infection if a fever accompanies the brown discharge
    • The brown watery discharge with an increase in fresh red blood with the presence of lumps and pain in the lower back or abdomen can be a sign of miscarriage
    • Dizziness, fainting, shoulder pain, and light-headedness along with a pinkish brown discharge can be because of ectopic pregnancy.

    You may also like: Bleeding During Early Pregnancy- What is Normal?

    Final Thoughts

    In conclusion, brown discharge & early pregnancy can be a cause for concern, but it is not always a sign of something serious. It is important to remember that every pregnancy is unique, and the presence of brown discharge does not necessarily indicate a problem. However, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure the well-being of both the mother and the baby. By seeking professional advice and monitoring any changes or symptoms, expectant mothers can alleviate their worries and enjoy a healthy and happy pregnancy journey.


    1. Khaskheli M, Baloch S, Baloch AS, Shah SGS. (2021). Vaginal discharge during pregnancy and associated adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes. NCBI

    2. E.W. Harville, A.J. Wilcox, D.D. Baird, C.R. Weinberg. (2003). Vaginal bleeding in very early pregnancy. Human Reproduction


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    Medically Reviewed by

    Dr. Shruti Tanwar

    C-section & gynae problems - MBBS| MS (OBS & Gynae)

    Written by



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