Vaginal discharge is the body’s way of cleaning out the vaginal area and preventing infection. Most women have grown accustomed to seeing white or clear stretchy discharge each month, so seeing a change in discharge color is naturally concerning. Many women experience pink discharge and wonder if they should see their gynecologists, but in most cases, this color discharge is perfectly natural.
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What Causes Pink Discharge?
Light pink discharge normally occurs when a small amount of blood is present in the discharge. More often than not, it’s just a sign that a woman is about to begin her period. However, there are some instances when this color discharge can be a sign of something else.
The most common causes of pink discharge include:
- Menstruation: Pink spotted discharge is often a sign that a woman’s period is about to begin. In the early stages of menstruation, the blood may be light and appear pink in color. Over time, the flow will become heavier.
- Ovulation: During ovulation, the follicles of the ovary rupture and release an egg. Sometimes, that egg can create a small hole and cause minor bleeding. Bleeding typically only lasts a few hours at most. Sometimes, the increase in hormones around the time of ovulation can also cause light spotting, and is nothing to be concerned about.
- Birth control: Certain contraceptives, such as birth control pills and IUDs, can cause spotting in the early stages of use. What happens is the hormones in these contraceptives will interrupt your body’s natural cycle, which can cause spotting in between periods. IUDs can also cause bleeding as the body gets used to this foreign object. Spotting is normally random if contraceptives are the cause.
- Bleeding after birth: Women who have just given birth often experience pink discharge. A large amount of tissue can sometimes be pushed out of the vagina along with the baby. This type of discharge will normally occur while the body is healing and can last for several days.
Pink Discharge Complications
In most cases, pink discharge is no cause for concern. However, it can be an indication of an underlying health condition, such as:
Vaginal infections often cause bloody discharge. The consistency of the discharge will let you know whether it is pus-filled or mucous. Other symptoms, such as burning, itching and pain, will also be present.
Women who are 45 years and older are at a greater risk of developing cervical or endometrial cancer. Pink discharge may be a sign of this condition, and it often appears in the later stages of cancer.
Other Health Conditions
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to someplace outside of the uterus. As such, the body will be unable to support a normal pregnancy. Many women experience pink vaginal discharge and will miss their periods with an ectopic pregnancy. If you experience these symptoms, see your doctor right away. Ectopic pregnancies can pose serious health risks.
Erosion of the cervix is often accompanied by painless pink discharge. The mucus appears before, between and after periods. Sometimes, it may also occur after sexual intercourse or physical activity.
Abnormal Discharge – What to Do Next
If you are experiencing abnormal pink vaginal discharge, the first step is to see your gynecologist. He or she will ask you questions about your symptoms and take a thorough medical history to try and determine what the problem is.
The doctor will ask you about the color of the discharge, when it started happening and if it had a foul smell. You will also be asked if you experienced any other symptoms, such as itching, pain or burning. These can be signs of a sexually transmitted disease. During your exam, the gynecologist will do a Pap test or take a sample of the discharge if possible.
Treatment will depend on the cause of the discharge. A bacterial infection may be treated with creams or antibiotics, while a yeast infection will be treated with an antifungal gel or cream. STDs will each have their own unique treatments. In some cases, your doctor may find nothing wrong and will either order further tests or clear you of possible health concerns.
Pink Discharge Before Period
When pink discharge occurs before a period, it may be a sign of pregnancy. After the egg is fertilized, it attaches to lining of the uterus. During this time, hormone activity increases and more blood flows to the lining of the uterus. Right when implantation occurs, slight bleeding may also occur.
Of course, pink discharge is not always a sign of pregnancy. Many women experience a light pink discharge or some spotting before their periods begin.
If you are trying to get pregnant or worried that you might be, you may mistake this discharge for implantation bleeding. However, vaginal discharge before a period is perfectly normal, and implantation would occur 6-12 days after ovulation.
When implantation occurs, women may experience brown or light pink spotting. When the egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, minor bleeding may occur. This blood will take some time to pass through the body and out of the vagina. As the blood ages, it turns brown or fades to a light pink color.
Only rarely is implantation bleeding a bright red color. When blood is a bright, rich color of red, it means that it’s fresh. In the case of implantation, this color could be an indication that something is wrong.
Most women will find that their pink discharge is perfectly normal. The pink color is simply an indication that blood is mixed in with the mucus. This type of discharge commonly occurs during implantation or the onset of menstruation. However, if the mucus has a foul smell or is accompanied by pain, burning and/or itching, see your doctor right away as this could be a sign of something more serious.