Dealing with Brown Vaginal Discharge

Posted by on Aug 20, 2017 in Diseases & Dysfunctions |

Dealing with Brown Vaginal Discharge

Unusual vaginal discharge can be a cause for alarm for any woman, and the appearance of an unusual brown discharge might signal a need for medical attention. Generally speaking, vaginal discharge is a normal part of physiological function, and its appearance and even odor can change depending on the time of the month (stage of menstrual cycle), or with arousal or pregnancy. On the other hand, a significant change in discharge, or an unusual color or smell that you haven’t experienced before, is worth taking notice and attending to.

Changes in discharge may be caused by any event or condition that upsets the normal bacterial balance in the vagina. This unbalance itself may be caused by any number of things including use of an antibiotic or steroid (prescription or otherwise), use of birth control prescriptions, bacterial infection, cervical cancer, sexually transmitted disease, PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), infection after surgery, trichomaniasis (a sexually transmitted parasitic infection), vaginal atrophy (natural drying and thinning of the vaginal walls at the time of menopause), vaginitis (irritation or itching of the vagina), or yeast infections. Sometimes the imbalance can even be caused by hygiene products that were intended to keep the area clean, like douches or scented soaps.

As you can see from the list above, abnormal discharge can be caused by a wide variety of factors, some of which are no threat to your health, and others of which can be quite serious. If the abnormal discharge continues, you should definitely consult your physician to make sure the cause isn’t one of the more serious issues.

You may be able to rule out some of the possible causes based on your personal history. If you haven’t had unprotected sex, for example, then the sexually transmitted infections can be ruled out. If you aren’t at an age for menopause, vaginal atrophy is unlikely. And of course if you don’t use scented hygiene products or douches, and aren’t taking any prescriptions of birth control or antibiotics or steroids, then you know those aren’t the culprits. Brown or bloody discharge is most often a symptom of irregular menstrual cycle, which in itself can be caused by a number of factors. Less frequently, brown discharge can be a sign of endometrial or cervical cancer. Regardless, you should seek a medical diagnosis to narrow down the possibilities and treat the cause.

When you see your doctor, you will be asked when the abnormal discharge started to show, as well as details about color and odor of the discharge. You will be asked about your recent sexual history, and however embarrassing the topic may be, it is crucial for your health that you share all the facts with your physician. Most likely, your doctor will perform a Pap smear and take a sample of the vaginal discharge, taking cells from your cervix for lab analysis and diagnostic purposes.

After identifying the cause, your doctor will prescribe appropriate treatment. It may be antibiotic creams or pills if you are experiencing any type of vaginal infection. To avoid recurrence of the probable causes of abnormal discharge, you can take precautions in future. Wash regularly with unscented soaps, avoiding scented hygiene products or couches. Always wipe yourself from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anal area into the vagina. Avoid tight clothing and wear cotton underclothes to absorb moisture and keep the area dry. And perhaps most importantly for your overall health, avoid unprotected sex, especially with multiple partners. Protecting yourself during intercourse can help you avoid not only the minor discomfort of abnormal discharge, but also more serious health problems.