Red discharge, or reddish brown discharge, is difficult to diagnose. The root cause of the color is often dried menstrual blood. But there are many causes of red discharge, so it can be menstrual blood, or it may be a variety of other conditions.
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10 Causes of Red Discharge
The discharge you’re experiencing may be caused by:
Women often experience red discharge in the middle of their normal menstrual cycle. Ovulation occurs halfway through your cycle and results in the shedding of your uterine lining. Just a small part of the lining is shed, but this is enough to cause red discharge.
An increase in hormonal levels is to blame.
Discharge lasts for a few hours, and this will be a brownish red discharge. The good news is that the discharge is short-lived, and is perfectly normal.
2. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection in the:
- Fallopian tubes
People with PID have an upper genital tract infection. Bacteria is the cause for the infection, and it can cause a woman’s discharge to turn red.
Menstrual cycles end when a woman is in menopause. This can happen at any time, but most women will go through menopause between 45 and 55. A natural occurrence, menopause is the end of a woman’s reproductive years, and the painful, bloody periods will cease.
Reproductive changes cause estrogen production to stop.
Hormonal disturbances caused by menopause can result in red discharge.
Are you trying to get pregnant? You may experience reddish discharge when you’re supposed to experience your normal period. Hormonal levels may not be high enough, or the placenta may not be fully formed yet, allowing some discharge to escape.
Hormonal changes can result in the uterine lining shedding, too.
Spotting or reddish brown discharge is normal very early in a pregnancy around the time your normal cycle is set to begin.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause drastic changes in a woman’s body. There are dozens of STDs, and even with safe sex, a woman can still contract certain diseases–accidents happen.
Gonorrhea may include:
Painful bowel movements, heavy bleeding, abnormal bleeding and pain when urinating are all symptoms of gonorrhea.
If you’ve had sex with a new partner and you notice a difference in your discharge, you’ll want to consult with your doctor and get tested for STDs. The faster you obtain treatment, the better.
Birth control pills or IUDs will alter your body’s hormones and stop the menstrual cycle. The time you start taking birth control can play a role in discharge. If you’ve taken the pill too far into your cycle, there’s a chance that the uterus will shed. This shedding can cause some bleeding or bloody discharge.
Hormonal changes can cause premature uterine lining shedding.
If you have an IUD to help stop pregnancy, there’s a chance that your body will reject the device. The rejection may result in bleeding or irritation. If the problem persists, you need to contact your doctor and discuss your issue.
7. Cervical Cancer
Women who suffer from cervical cancer may notice a brownish red discharge. This is a condition that requires medical assistance.
8. Old Blood
Your body works to expel all the blood inside of the uterus when you have your menstrual cycle. Oftentimes, some blood is left behind and dries. Dried blood will be brown in color, and when mixed with white discharge, it can turn red, too.
The older the blood, the darker it will become.
Most women will experience this change in discharge color a few days after their period. The same discharge may occur around the time of ovulation.
One of the first signs of pregnancy is implementation bleeding. This bleeding occurs when the egg attaches to the uterine lining. A small amount of blood may be present, and this may lead to spotting or discharge that’s red.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant, congratulations.
Implementation bleeding happens in one out of three women. Most women don’t realize they have any bleeding, or they believe it’s just a small trickle of blood that is causing the issue–which is often true.
You may not produce a positive pregnancy test at this time since it’s so early on in your pregnancy.
10. Ovarian Cysts
Most women experience an ovarian cyst during their life. Oftentimes, a woman will not show any symptoms, and they remain pain-and symptom-free. A routine pelvic exam will help a woman uncover a cyst.
When symptoms do present, this can cause vomiting, bloating, painful sex and painful bowel movements.
In some cases, red discharge will also be a symptom of a cyst. Most cysts are not a cause for concern, but the rare few will need to be medically treated. The discharge is more on the brownish side than red when the discharge is a result of cysts.
Brownish Red Discharge Concerns
Red discharge that goes away in a few hours is not a cause for concern. There are rare times when you do need to be concerned about the discharge, and this includes:
- Discharge that persists for several days
- Pain, itching or burning along with the abnormal discharge
- Fever or nausea
Red discharge when pregnant may be a sign of early miscarriage.
A call or visit to your doctor is needed to properly diagnose the problem. Caution and quick action can help stop a miscarriage from continuing.
If you have abdominal pain, fever or unusual smelling discharge, you may have PID.
Infections can result in dramatic internal changes. A bad infection can cause abnormal discharge, and proper treatment is recommended.