Top 12 Causes of Bloody Discharge from Vagina

Why do I have a brown or bloody discharge? Is it an early sign of pregnancy or a sign of an infection?. A normal vaginal discharge color ranges from clear white to creamy white.

A red discharge could be nothing to worry about or it could be a sign something is wrong.

Blood streaks

Let's discuss what a vaginal discharge is and what the potential causes of a Bloody vaginal discharge are.

What is a Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge is a fluid, mucus or secretion produced from glands in the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the womb that connects the uterus to the vagina.

Discharge from the vagina helps to:

  • Keep the vagina healthy and clean by protecting it against infections
  • Keep the vaginal moist and acts as lubricant during estrogen

The color,texture and consistency of your cervical mucus is dependent on what stage of menstrual cycle you are in. And also on the level of estrogen and progesterone hormones in your blood. 

Most common types of vaginal discharge are:

  • Milky white​ discharge
  • Clear watery discharge
  • thick white discharge
  • White creamy discharge

Causes of Bloody Brown Discharge

1. Implantation 

Implantation occurs when the fertilised egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus.

During ovulation, one or more matured egg is released from your ovaries.

​If the egg is penetrated by a sperm within 12-24hrs, conception occurs.

In the next coming days, the fertilised egg will travels from the fallopian tube into the uterus (womb).

The embryo on the average reaches the uterus around 6-7 days after ovulation.

After the embryo arrives in the uterus, the next step is implantation.

During the process of implantation, the embryo digs deep through the uterus lining(endometrium) to bury itself.​

The process of implantation is sometimes accompanied by light spotting and cramping.

2. Birth Control

Birth controls are used to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

The comes as pills, patches, implants, shots and IUDs.

Hormonal contraceptives contain artificial hormones which messes up with your natural levels of estrogen and progesterone hormone.

One of the side effects of using birth control is spotting and bleeding in between periods.

The bleeding when not on period should stop after the first 3 months.

Emergency contraceptive like morning after pill can cause hormonal bleeding from Plan B.

Other contraceptives that may cause blood brown discharge are: Mirena IUD and nexaplanon.

Common causes of vaginal bleeding on birth control are:

  • Skipping or missing a pill for more that one day
  • Stopping or restarting a pill
  • Changing contraceptives​

3. Gonorrhea 

Sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea also results in reddish or dark brown discharge between periods.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that can be contracted by having vaginal, oral or anus intercourse with someone who has gonorrhea.

Symptoms of gonorrhea are:

  • ​Bloody gooey discharge between menstrual period
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding during or after sexual intercourse
  • Vulva and vaginal itching
  • Smelly vaginal discharge
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding

4. Ovulation

Ovulation is the release of a matured egg from the ovary. One of the signs of ovulation is ovulation spotting or ovulation bleeding.

A light bleeding can occur when the follicle ruptures to expel the egg.

The blood from the ovulation process can be mixed with your vaginal discharge.​

5. Hormonal Imbalance

The menstrual cycle is controlled by two key hormones estrogen and progesterone.

The estrogen hormone is dominant in the first half of the menstrual cycle.​ It is responsible for thickening the uterus lining in preparation for pregnancy.

The progesterone hormone is responsible for the second half of the menstrual cycle.

It takes over the thickening of the uterus where the estrogen hormone stopped.​

Any imbalance between these two hormones impacts the menstrual cycle and the way it functions.

Hormonal imbalance is responsible for conditions such as abnormal uterine bleeding and PCOS. 

6. Chlamydia 

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a bacterium called chlamydia trachomatis. 

It is passed from one person to the other through unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex. 

If chlamydia is left untreated it can cause bleeding but no period.

7. Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the period of 4-12 years before a woman reaches menopause( menses cessation).

During perimenopause your bod gradually makes natural transition to menopause.

Hormonal fluctuations is very common during this transitioning phases.

The symptoms of perimenoupase are: 

  • Discharge of blood when not on period
  • Hot flashes
  • Mood swings
  • Irregular periods
  • Sleep problems
  • Decreasing fertility

8. Cancer

Certain types of cancer in some cases can cause blood like discharges.

Ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer ​are example of cancers that can result in bleeding in between your periods.

Symptoms of cervical cancer are:

  • ​Heavy periods
  • Blood spots or light bleeding beween your period
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Pain during and after intercourse

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Back Pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Pain during sex
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness

9. Ovarian Cyst

Ovarian cyst occurs when fluid filled sacs develop on or in the ovaries.

Cyst can develop in the left or right ovaries or even both.

Most women will develop cysts on their ovaries at a point in their lives.

A ruptured ovarian cyst is a life threatening condition.

Symptoms of a ruptured ovarian cysts are:

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding or bloody vaginal discharge
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal bloating and pressure

10. PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that occurs when a woman has excessive male hormones(androgen).

It is also caused by hormonal imbalance of key reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone.

PCOS is a common cause of bloody discharge instead of periods.

When to worry Bloody tinged discharge

Any form of bleeding from vagina when you are not on your period should be reported to your gynaecologist immediately.

If you are pregnant, it could be caused by a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.​

Your gynaecologist will ask you a series of questions to find out your symptoms and medical background.

 He may also perform a pelvic examination to see if it is caused by any of your reproductive organs.

Treatment of blood vagina discharge

Treatment of an abnormal vaginal bleeding depends on the root cause.

A surgery many be performed in some cases.

See your doctor immediately if you do notice any blood down there when you wipe yourself but you are not menstruating.

Learn more About Bloody Mucus Discharge

Dark Bloody Discharge before period

Dark blood before menstruation can be caused by retained old blood from previous menstrual cycle.

This old blood is expelled first in the new cycle or some days after your period has ended.

Sometimes not all blood is expelled during menstruation. The older the blood stays in the uterus the darker it gets due to oxidisation. ​

White Discharge with Blood spots

A discharge with blood streak can be caused by a variety of reasons such as implantation bleeding, an infection or a disease. 

See your gynaecologist immediately if this happens.

Is Blood Discharge a sign of Pregnancy

A light blood in discharge just before period or around a week before your period may be caused by implantation bleeding.

Bleeding from implantation bleeding usually last for a few hours to 48 hours.

If no period and not pregnant, see the doctor to find the cause of you missed period but not pregnant.

A blood like discharge ​is caused by a variety of reasons including fibroids, polyps, hormone replacement therapy and thyroid problems.

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