Normally, your vaginal secretion should be creamy or whitish in color. However, the color and texture can change due to many different causes.
- Vaginal discharge colors can range from clear to milky, to light pink (spotting) or even light brown.
- A brown discharge after period is an indication that your current vaginal secretions have old blood in them.
- The fluid may be smelly, pinkish, light or dark brown.
- In some cases, you may experience cramps with brown mucus 2, 3, 4 days to even one or 2 weeks after menstruation.
In most cases, the primary reason for getting a dark discharge after period is over is that the uterus is yet to finish its lining shedding process that takes place during menstruation.
Noticing the fluid, 2, 3, 4, days after your menses should not worry you, as it may simply mean that your vagina is cleaning out all the old blood that remained at the end of menstruation.
- In such a case, the discharge should be pinkish or dark brown, mucus-like in texture.
- If you notice a light brown or dark brown blood or bleeding several days after the period ends, you should visit your physician. The discharge could mean that you have a serious underlying condition, or that you are pregnant.
But what causes a brown fluid after menses, occurring 2 to 4 days or even 2 weeks after menstruation? What does it mean when smelly or accompanied with cramps?
Is it normal?
Is it normal to have a black vaginal discharge after my period ends? A dark brown discharge after period ends is considered to be a fairly common occurrence among many women.
Regular vaginal secretions are expected to change in terms of:
- Stage of occurrence
- Time of occurrence
Several reasons exist that can be used to explain the causes for these variations. When the cause for the change is serious, the vaginal discharge will be accompanied by additional symptoms, e.g.
- Uterine bleeding
- Burning sensation in the vagina
- Depression and mood swings
- Itchiness in the vagina
- Loss of appetite
- Pain during sex
- Skin rash
- Vaginal dryness
- Frequent urination
If you regularly find yourself dealing with changes in the color of your vaginal discharge, it is recommended that you maintain a diary. This will enable you to track both your menstrual patterns and the cycle itself.
From the diary, you are in a position to establish whether the brown spotting after menstruation is normal, or whether you need to have a consultation with your gynecologist.
The causes can range from residual blood from your menstruation, a delayed period, implantation spotting to more serious reasons such as endometriosis, hormonal problems and uterine fibroids.
Here are the most likely causes of brown blood after period.
1. Hormonal fluctuations
Hormonal imbalance is one of the leading causes of brown vaginal discharge. If you recently stopped using birth control, then there is a likelihood that you could notice brown spotting.
This is caused by the hormonal changes that are taking place inside your body. But, if you notice consistent spotting, even when using birth control, then the underlying issue may prove to be more serious than you may think.
Consult your doctor be sure that everything is actually alright.
2. Leftover blood from your period
As mentioned earlier, brown discharge 2 days after period may be caused by your vagina trying to clean all the blood remaining in your uterus and cervix.
- In such a case, the blood will be dark brown in color as an indication that it has been in your body for quite some time.
- Some women may experience some blood clots after menstruation, which appear as dark brown in color.
During menstruation, not all blood present in your uterus lining will be expelled out. The remaining blood, known as retained residual blood may find its way out of your body within the next 2 to 3 days after period ends.
Endometriosis is a serious underlying medical condition that occurs when the tissues lining your uterus are found on the outer part of your uterus.
These tissues can be found in regions like the liver, pelvic area, lungs, fallopian tube, and the ovaries. Dark brown discharge prior to and after periods is one of the symptoms associated with endometriosis.
It is prudent to see a doctor if you realize that you have frequent dark brown discharges especially if accompanied by cramps before or after you have completed your menstrual cycle.
Additional symptoms associated with this condition are:
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Painful periods
Endometriosis is difficult to diagnose, and its primary cause is yet to be established.
4. Delayed period
Very often, a delay in your periods could occasion a brown discharge after period. It is caused by shedding of your endometrial tissue that is lining your uterus.
The shedding process is similar to a cleaning process. In many instances, there will be nothing for you to worry about.
However, if the situation changes and you notice that it has become heavy bleeding, or has gone on for a few days, see a doctor immediately.
5. Implantation bleeding
You could be pregnant. Light brown spotting or brown mucus three to four weeks after your last menstrual periods could mean that it is implantation bleeding.
Implantation spotting is particularly the case when you have recently stopped taking birth control pills or recently engaged in unprotected sex. Implantation bleeding or spotting is synonymous with early pregnancies.
The light brown spotting could actually be implantation spotting. This is sometimes an early sign of pregnancy before a missed period.
6. Uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are another known cause of brown discharge after period. Fibroids are benign tumors that are located inside the uterus.
Many women do not realize that they have fibroids until it is too late. Some of the symptoms to be on the lookout for to know whether you have uterine fibroids are:
- Abnormal bleeding between periods
- Pelvic pain
7. Repeated yeast infections
The worst type of yeast infection that you can get is the one accompanied by brown spotting, pain, and a burning sensation. [Mayo Clinic].
Some of the yeast infections will also vary in terms of smell and color. You can establish whether you have an infection by checking for a bad odor.
The yeast infection discharge may also appear as a thick white clumpy discharge or simply a smelly cottage cheese discharge. If you suspect that the brown discharge after menstruation is caused by a vaginal yeast infection, see a doctor as soon as possible.
8. PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)
The pelvic inflammatory disease is a condition that affects your fallopian tubes, ovaries, or the uterus. Many women and teenage girls who are sexually active develop this condition after being exposed to a range of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), e.g. chlamydia, gonorrhea, and vaginal warts.
Common symptoms of the pelvic inflammatory disease include:
- Experiencing pain in your lower abdominal area
- Abnormally colored vaginal discharge
- A foul-smelling discharge
- Pain when engaging in sexual intercourse
- Brownish spotting after menstruation
- Tenderness in your lower pelvic region
What does it mean when you get brown mucus at different stages of your menstrual cycle? A pinkish brown vaginal mucus can mean you are pregnant, or are spotting for any other reason that causes it.
But what does it indicate if you see a brown discharge accompanied by cramps 2 weeks after your period?
2 weeks after period has finished
A light brown discharge or spotting a week before your periods may be an indication that you are pregnant.
However, if you are still spotting a week or two after your period has ended, it is unlikely that you could be expectant. The light brown discharge after period may be an abnormal discharge, or it could be ovulation taking place.
Many women have mistaken spotting a week or two before period with a similar case a week or two after the menses.
Although spotting or experiencing a light brown discharge before the menses could mean that you are pregnant, when it comes after the periods, it may just be an indication that ovulation is taking place.
2. Dark brown discharge 2 to 4 days after period
Noticing a dark brown discharge 2 to 4 days after period should not be a cause for alarm.
Note that it does not mean that you are pregnant. It just indicates that it took a bit longer to expel the thick uterine lining from the body.
Therefore, it is not possible to be pregnant as ovulation has not taken place yet.
Medical experts consider it normal to get light dark brown spots 3 days after to even 5 days after period has ended.
The only time you should become worried would be if this discharge is smelly, itchy, or is irritating your vagina opening.
Could I be pregnant?
Is it a sign of pregnancy? There is a chance that you could be pregnant. The brown vaginal discharge may be an indication of implantation bleeding.
But, in many cases, the timing of a positive pregnancy test will be dependent on implantation.
- In case you are pregnant, it cannot reflect on a urine test until three to four days have elapsed since implantation took place.
- This means that it should have taken place ten days after ovulation, which should be four days before your next period.
According to Mayo Clinic, up to fifty-one percent of women have recorded a positive pregnancy test at least two days before their expected period dates (missed period).
Also, keep in mind that there is a chance the test could turn out negative even if you are actually pregnant.
Pinkish brown mucus/spotting
There are a number of reasons why you may notice pinkish spotting right after your periods have ended. Uterine incapacity is one such reason.
Uterine incapacity occurs when your uterus is unable to expel all the blood in it when you are menstruating.
At times, your uterus could be weak, which means that it will not be able to contract strongly, to allow it to shed all the blood that is present. The leftover blood will then be expelled in the days following your periods.
It gets its color from combining with your vaginal secretions. Additionally, it can also be caused by:
- Cervical cancer
- Using hormonal contraceptives
Pinkish discharge may also occur at any time when you engage in rough sexual intercourse or after a pap test. It is not uncommon to bleed after sex, but it is recommended that you avoid engaging in sexual acts that might contribute to such a problem.
Smelly brown discharge
What causes a smelly brown discharge after my period is over? It is natural and normal for a vagina to have a unique smell. Just because there is a different scent does not necessarily mean that an infection is present.
A change in the smell of the vaginal discharge can be linked to specific moments in your menstrual cycle.
The smell of the discharge is bound to vary depending on where you are in your cycle.
To help you determine when you have a problem, you will need to familiarize yourself with the smell of your vagina when it is healthy. Changes in the smell of the vaginal discharge are likely to occur throughout the course of her cycle. But, bad odor in the discharge could be caused by:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Yeast infections
- Other sexually transmitted infections
When you are not on your period, your vaginal discharge should be milky white or clear in color without any particular bad smell.
When menstruating, the discharge is responsible for ensuring that your vagina remains clean during this period.
A healthy vaginal discharge should increase and thicken when you become sexually aroused, when ovulating, or when breastfeeding.
After a missed period
Most women will notice a brown discharge after a missed period at least once during their lifetimes. Brown discharge after missed period may be a cause for alarm for women who recently engaged in unprotected sex, or have not been using any form of birth control.
The following are reasons why you could have brown vaginal discharge after missing your periods.
During this time, your body is transitioning to get into menopause. For many women, this is a phase where their bodies are slowing down their reproductive cycles.
In many instances, it is not probable to become pregnant after you have entered this particular phase.
An average woman will reach menopause between the age of forty-five and fifty-five. But, there are cases of women who have gone through menopause when they are in their thirties.
The point to get from these statistics is that your body is unique, and no one can be a hundred percent certain on when you will start this phase.
2. Late period
There is an off-chance that you will still get your period despite the fact that you are noticing brown discharge. It is normal for certain women to get late periods, and when their periods are late, the body uses this particular period to begin expelling any uterine tissue that could have been leftover from the last menstruation.
In such a case, you will go for a day or two without getting any discharge or period blood. Your normal period will then resume, and the cycle will start all over again.
If your period is only late for a day or two, be patient. However, if you truly believe that there is a possibility that you could be pregnant, take a home pregnancy test or consult with your doctor.
3. Birth control
When you have a brown discharge instead of your period blood after recently changing your birth control method, it could be that the body is still in the process of adapting to the changes.
Many forms of birth control will not cause a brown discharge, but birth control pills will alter your hormone levels.
There are women who take the pills to help them deal with acne and PMS. For such women, they could find themselves with a scary brown period.
Using these pills to help with acne means that your hormones will become suppressed, and your pituitary gland will become a target.
How to stop brown discharge after period
Treatments to stop a brown discharge after period are not provided after a single observation. You are required first to make observations, and take notes on the nature and duration of your symptoms.
Having observed the nature, and the length of time it takes for the discharge to end, you can then decide on whether to visit a physician or not.
When the cause is serious, the discharge will be accompanied by many other symptoms, e.g., skin rashes, mood swings, and a frequent need to pass urine. If the cause is an infection, your doctor will prescribe the right treatment for you.
If caused by recurrent yeast infections, antifungal treatments may be applied. On the other hand, bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics of different strengths.
As mentioned earlier, brown discharge is not a cause for concern, unless you notice a bad odor, or is accompanied by some of the symptoms mentioned above.
When to see a doctor
It will be important to schedule an appointment with your physician if you notice the following accompanying the brown discharge after period.
- Bad odor
- Burning sensation when you are urinating
- Pain when engaging in sexual intercourse
- Vaginal irritation and itching
- Heavy brown discharge
- Pelvic pain and pressure or heaviness
- Swelling of your vaginal area
- (N.D). Understanding early miscarriages: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/obgyn/services/FP/early_misccariage.html
- (2016). HPV screening: https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/screening.html