Brown discharge during pregnancy as a sign of illness

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 18.10.2021

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Many of the diseases of the female reproductive system can proceed latently even before pregnancy, but under the influence of hormonal adjustment and weakening against this background of the body's defenses, they acquire a new, active form. And sometimes women just do not notice their problems until they find out the good news about pregnancy. Now, realizing the responsibility of her position, the expectant mother begins to notice and even worry about the smallest unusual symptoms.

So, both before and during pregnancy, a woman can have uterine fibroids and uterine polyps, erosion or cervical dysplasia, inflammation of the appendages, thrush, sexually transmitted infections, etc.

So, uterus myoma, which is characterized by heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding, does not disappear anywhere during pregnancy, and the brown discharge now replaces the menstrual flow. Depending on the location of the tumor and its size, they may be more or less intense. In some cases, instead of regular daub, quite heavy bleeding with the release of scarlet blood is observed, which is considered to be a threat of abortion.

But there are other symptoms of fibroids, which can be suspected pathology before the ultrasound. These are pains or a sensation of pressure in the pelvic region, pain in the lower abdomen radiating to the back of the legs, pain during sexual contact, discomfort in the bladder and disturbed urination. There may also be frequent constipation and flatulence, an increase in the size of the abdomen.

Alas, these symptoms are indicative if brown discharge is noted without pregnancy or at its early stages, when unpleasant sensations and external changes cannot be attributed to the growing fetus. But in later periods, when the belly grows and the child begins to put pressure on the abdominal organs with his weight, diagnosing myoma by the clinical picture alone will be very problematic.

Erosion of the cervix, which can also worsen during pregnancy, causing the symptoms of brown discharge, for a long time could hardly remind of itself. But from the wound, which has increased in size, blood can now gradually flow in, which will manifest itself as brown smearing secretions, and sometimes unpleasant sensations in the lower abdomen.

Brown discharge during erosion of the cervix during pregnancy usually appears after sexual intercourse or examination by a gynecologist. The fact is that the wound on the mucous membrane in conditions of constant high humidity is delayed very slowly, and against the background of hormonal imbalance it becomes even more tender and prone to any mechanical injury. In addition, an unstressed wound always attracts an infection that contributes to the progression of the inflammatory process that weakens the tissues, and during pregnancy any conditionally pathogenic microflora that dwells on the human skin and mucous membranes can be activated.

It is with the activation of conditionally pathogenic microflora, which is not dangerous with good immunity, and are associated with frequent episodes of development in pregnant candidiasis. Thrush in future mothers, triggered by a representative of conditionally dangerous pathogens of the fungus of the genus Candida, is quite common. Candidiasis is characterized by a white, cheesy discharge with a sour smell and a noticeable itchy vagina.

The disease can be activated immediately with the beginning of the hormonal restructuring of the body, i.e. In the first weeks of pregnancy, when there are frequent cases of daubs associated with the attachment of the amniotic egg. A thrush during pregnancy  these days can have several other manifestations, because drops of blood can mix with secretions, and the discharge becomes brown.

True, the connection of these secretions with a fungal infection will be indicated by the same sour smell. And the tinted discharge itself may appear after violent sexual contact and various associated pathologies of pregnancy. In addition, the candidiasis of the genital organs is almost always accompanied by a strong, annoying itch that is not characteristic of non-infectious daubs.

Infections that are sexually transmitted also stick to people with a weakened immune system, so pregnant women with their hormonal changes are at risk. In this case, there is a strong inflammation of the vagina and uterus, caused by pathogens and accompanied by secretions of brown, yellow, green, etc. Colors. At the same time, mucus, pus may be present in the discharge, they may have an unpleasant odor, for example, the "flavor" of rotten fish. In the acute period of the disease, the woman may have a fever, unexpressed dull pain in the lower abdomen, sometimes itching and burning during urination.

If brown discharge during pregnancy is noted mainly during urination, the cause is most likely to be in diseases of the urinary system: the kidneys and bladder, which are forced to work for two, therefore often fail during this period. The most frequent diseases of the urinary system during pregnancy are cystitis and pyelonephritis, which are often infectious in nature.

Pyelonephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys, is usually accompanied by pain in the lumbar region of the back, which can be either dull or acute, piercing (renal colic), the appearance of sediment and brownish mucus in the urine, indicating a slight hemorrhage in the body, an increase in temperature to subfebrile values.

An identical picture is also observed in renal stone disease, for which renal colic is a common symptom, but there is also discomfort during urination, false urges, and burning sensation during urination (when fine sand and stones leave).

No less a problem is cystitis, which is not able to proceed asymptomatically. Manifestation of the disease is brown or red bloody discharge, cutting and burning during urination, false urges for little need, or vice versa, frequent emptying of the bladder in small portions. No exception for cystitis and aching pain in the lower abdomen in the area of the bladder, which is adjacent to the uterus. Therefore, pregnant women often attribute these pains to pregnancy problems.

Not so rarely during pregnancy, doctors also note education in the field of cervical polyps, which, although considered benign tumors, can make some confusion in the life of the expectant mother. If the polyp is small, it is unlikely to show any symptoms. Another thing, if the growth is large. In this case, just a brown discharge can be observed with a polyp during pregnancy. But they do not occur regularly, but under the influence of some irritating factors.

Symptoms of a polyp in the cervical canal or endometrium during pregnancy may be white or brown vaginal discharge. Bleachers do not particularly bother women, but brown is already alarming. Although in principle with polyps this is the same thing, and the color of secretions changes due to the ingress of blood particles into them, resulting in damage to the polyp, for example, during intercourse or examination by a gynecologist. At the same time, cramping abdominal pain may also occur, which is not uncommon with large polyp sizes.

But similar abdominal pains and brown discharge may also occur with endometriosis, which may increase or subside during pregnancy. The clinical picture of the threat of miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy or the pathologies of pregnancy characteristic of the later periods is identical with the above. So without a gynecologist's examination and relevant research, it will be difficult to say what causes the appearance of smears: with complications of pregnancy or diseases of the female genitourinary system.

What does the nature of the discharge indicate?

You can soothe future mothers for a long time by the fact that the symptoms of brown discharge during pregnancy do not always talk about pathology, which means that before you worry, you must first understand how serious the situation is. But it is unlikely that it will help the strained nerves of a pregnant woman to relax and calm down. In addition, in some cases, on the contrary, you need to act quickly, and not reassure yourself that everything will cost.

To understand how dangerous the discharge, the pregnant woman will help their character. So, brown discharge without pain during pregnancy is considered the most innocent. Usually they occur in early or late pregnancy and signal either the good news and the attachment of the ovum in the uterus, or the preparation of the body for childbirth and discharge of the mucus plug. They also include regular discharge, arising instead of menstruation on the background of hormonal adjustment in the body of the future mother and daub with intravaginal use of progesterone. This discharge does not pose a danger to either the woman or her child.

A scanty, small, smearing brown discharge during pregnancy is considered to be a fairly popular symptom that rarely signals serious problems. Is that small in their very beginnings, when the timely appeal for help helps to preserve the pregnancy in the vast majority of cases.

Another thing, if during pregnancy appear brown discharge and pulls the lower abdomen. A woman can face a similar situation at any time, and the symptom of pulling pains is characteristic of many pathologies.

The pains themselves can be evidence of an increased rush of blood to the uterus, which is natural during pregnancy. Subsequently, the growing fetus, which is quite mobile and heavy, can contribute to the strengthening of such sensations. Lower abdominal pain can happen due to bowel problems. All these reasons are not dangerous, unless the pains do not increase and do not worsen the future mother's well-being.

But if the pulling pains are accompanied by brown or bloody red secretions, this is a rather serious situation, characteristic of the following pathologies:

  • increased uterine tone and the threat of miscarriage,
  • missed or ectopic pregnancy
  • detachment of the ovum or placenta,
  • gynecological diseases
  • genital infections.

About this combination of symptoms should not worry only in the last months of pregnancy and before childbirth. Indeed, in this case we are talking about the imminent appearance of the baby into the world, for which the body is actively preparing.

Abundant liquid brown discharge during pregnancy are also considered to be precursors to early delivery. In the last periods we usually speak about the discharge of the mucous membrane of the cork and the amniotic fluid, to which blood particles are mixed from the placenta that have been damaged by the strong pressure of the vessels that tear at will. But in the early stages of pregnancy and in the second trimester, heavy discharge should be alarming, even regardless of their color.

All of the above pathologies are characterized by an increase in the volume of secreted secretion, and sometimes by a change in its color. Increased secretion is characteristic of the inflammatory process, and brown color indicates damage to tissues and small vessels. It is less dangerous than a copious scarlet, but it is not normal. Running to a doctor with such a symptom at breakneck speed or calling an ambulance is usually not necessary, but you should not postpone a visit to the gynecologist either.

Hurry up need only moms in the run-up to childbirth, because the brown color of the discharge can be evidence of both beginning normal labor and placenta previa and the associated rupture of the uterus, which is fraught with later severe bleeding and reproductive function disorders.

In contrast to the abundant liquid, brown thick discharge during pregnancy is considered quite normal, especially in its first trimester. Quite dense homogeneous spotting without smell should not cause panic in the expectant mother, but the appearance of clots is a reason for going to the doctor.

Brown and dark red discharge clots during pregnancy are characteristic of incomplete abortion. They may appear after an abortion or miscarriage and represent the remaining parts of the body and the place of the fetus. This symptom is considered dangerous and suggests that the uterus is not fully cleared and it can begin the process of decomposition of the remaining tissues, inflammation of the endometrium, and sometimes blood infection.

A bloody-brown discharge during pregnancy in the early stages appears as often as brown. The fact is that the color of normal secretions can vary from beige to dark brown and reddish. In some cases, the appearance of streaks of blood in the clear discharge, especially after rough sex or examination by a gynecologist. It all depends on the location of the damaged vessel and the strength of the bleeding.

The danger of such bleeding can be only in the presence of other suspicious symptoms. In the second trimester of pregnancy, even one of this symptom is enough to go to a doctor, because normally there should be no hemorrhages during this period.

As for the mucous membrane of the stopper, which leaves on the eve of childbirth during the last stages of pregnancy, it can have a beige or brown shade or remain transparent. Sometimes you can see the streaks of blood on the background of transparent mucus, which is also considered to be quite normal.

Often during pregnancy you need to pay attention not so much to the color of discharge, but rather to their consistency and smell. Brown discharge with a smell during pregnancy indicates an infectious process. Quite often, they are accompanied by discomfort in the lower abdomen, such unpleasant symptoms as itching and burning, an unusual rash may appear on the genitals (for venereal diseases, herpes, papilloma virus, etc.). The infection could have been hidden in the woman’s body before, and the pregnancy only aggravated her course. But in some cases everyday causes are to be blamed: unprotected sex, inadequate hygiene of the genital organs, inadequate treatment of the gynecological instrument, etc.

Usually, young mothers are more scrupulous in terms of sex and hygiene, so the cause of infectious pathologies in most cases is a common opportunistic pathogenic microflora that lives on the skin and mucous membranes of any person and is activated by any reduction in immunity.

Doctors diagnose thrush particularly in future mothers, because for a fungal infection of this plan, reduced immunity and the associated microflora of the body associated with it are considered favorable soil. Hormonal changes primarily hit the vaginal microflora, changing its acidity, so during pregnancy, vaginal candidiasis is a rather common problem. Pathology can occur both by itself and as a negative effect of the use of antibiotics to combat bacterial infection.

One of the most popular symptoms of genital infections is itching. It is clear that this symptom may have many other causes, but in combination with brown and bad-smelling secretions, it clearly speaks of the infectious nature of the disease. Itching and brown discharge during pregnancy can be combined with thrush caused by Candida fungi, bacterial vaginosis, venereal diseases, genital herpes and HPV, pelvic organs of inflammatory and neoplastic nature. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the combination of itching and discharge is not accidental and speaks of a disease, which cannot be ignored during pregnancy.

Cheesy brown discharge during pregnancy clearly indicate a fungal infection. Ideally, the secretions for candidiasis are white and resemble grains of soft cottage cheese. But when such whitish discharges are mixed with blood, the color of the secreted, depending on whether it is fresh blood or “old”, can change from pink to brown. Regardless of color, characteristic symptoms of candidal secretions are sourish odor and genital itching.

Today, doctors and scientists have developed many different methods and tools to help keep the pregnancy under the threat of its termination. Some techniques are still young and insufficiently studied. For example, the method of setting and using a pessary is an obstetric ring made of plastic or silicone, which is installed on the cervix. It is believed that this device should redistribute the load on the uterus and prevent its early disclosure. Pessary set women with multiple pregnancies, increased tone of the uterus or short her neck, the threat of miscarriage, etc.

The device is certainly useful, but in any case it will be perceived by the female body as an alien body. So, after its installation, the volume of discharge increases.

Normally, they should be transparent and slimy, odorless. But in some cases, women note that the discharge has acquired a brown tint, and this already suggests that during the procedure small vessels were damaged. The reasons for this situation can be many: the doctor’s negligence, weakness of the vaginal mucosa and uterus during pregnancy, and comorbidities.

The scanty brown discharge in a pessary during pregnancy, which sets after 20 and is removed at 38 weeks gestation, is not considered dangerous. But if their intensity increases or discharge becomes bloody, this is an occasion to immediately consult a doctor. Probably, the internal organs were injured or large vessels were damaged.

It is worth asking for help even if pus appeared in the secretions or they got an unpleasant smell. The fact is that the establishment of a pessary is often a factor that activates latent infectious and inflammatory pathologies, which now declare themselves openly. In such cases, the pessary must be removed, and it will be possible to deliver it only after cure of the existing infection.

The presence of dark brown and bloody discharge in combination with a pulling feeling in the lower abdomen may indicate a fetal dying or the threat of miscarriage, in which the pessary is not relevant. A woman will need to undergo additional research to establish the true cause of the symptoms.

If the symptoms of brown mucous secretions during pregnancy appear after removing the pessary (and this happens already on the eve of the birth), there is no need to worry. Just a mucus plug got the opportunity to leave the place it had previously intended, and in the near future, Mommy will be able to see her newborn baby.

As you can see, there are many different nuances that can distinguish normal from pathological, as well as one disease from another. A person without special medical education will have difficulty in understanding all these nuances in order to make a specific diagnosis. And this is despite the fact that we have not yet touched upon the theme of variations in the color of brown discharge during pregnancy.

The color of discharge during pregnancy

It would seem, what can a feature like the color of the discharge signal? In fact, color and shade can tell a lot to a specialist, indicating in which direction of diagnostics to move, what studies to assign. Attentive and cautious to the future mother, the color of the discharge can tell whether she should be worried and what danger may lie behind the colored spots on her underwear.

So, light brown odorless discharge appears during pregnancy during the attachment of the ovum or under the influence of changes in the hormonal background in the first trimester. But the same secretions may be accompanied by various pathologies of pregnancy. One can say that the light color of the daub indicates a slight hemorrhage, which means that everything is not so bad, since it may indicate a slight form or an early stage of pathology.

Pale brown discharge during pregnancy can produce various neoplasms on the cervix (small cysts, polyps), uterine dysplasia and erosion. Similar specks can appear after urination in case of cystitis or pyelonephritis.

Some women note the appearance of beige or beige-brown discharge, which during pregnancy have the same reasons and indicate a slight hemorrhage. At 2-3 weeks of pregnancy, they may be associated with the attachment of the ovum, while at 19-20 weeks may be evidence of fluctuations in estrogen levels or the onset of the pathological process.

Brown mucous discharge during pregnancy is usually associated with the discharge of mucus plug before the birth. They may be more or less intense in color, have red streaks, and differ from the amniotic fluid only by the mucous consistency. If such secretions appear earlier, this may be evidence of an infectious-inflammatory process or violent sex. But in this case there may also appear slight discomfort in the lower abdomen or dull, not severe pain.

Pink-brown discharge during pregnancy may indicate that a woman's blood coagulability is somewhat lowered, so the blood comes out without time to clot. An identical situation is also observed if a woman has microdamages not in the uterus, but in the vagina, or if the discharge is intense enough to quickly remove blood, even with slight bleeding. It is impossible to say for sure whether such secretions are dangerous, it all depends on the reason causing them.

But the red-brown and red discharge indicates that during pregnancy, a woman opened a serious bleeding. The presence of clots in the blood may be a hint of a miscarriage or its consequences (incomplete removal of parts of the body of the fetus during the cleaning). Even during the birth itself, the active excretion of blood is alarming doctors, forcing to imply placenta previa and the risk of uterine rupture. In any case, the appearance of such a symptom requires an immediate appeal for medical help and call the ambulance.

Dirty dark brown discharge during pregnancy, heavily soiled linen and pads, are evidence of more severe bleeding in the uterus, but still not intense enough for the blood to go out without changing color. It all depends on the degree of damage to the blood vessels, the characteristics of the blood, the size of the blood vessels. A single dark brown discharge at week 2 of gestation is usually as safe as a light brown one.

Alertness at the beginning of pregnancy should cause too intense, foul-smelling or long-lasting discharge, the presence of lumps in them. But in the second trimester of pregnancy, such discharge already carries a serious danger in any case, since it often indicates a detachment or placenta previa.

Brown transparent discharge of different shades and intensity during pregnancy, if they are not accompanied by a backward, burning sensation, fever, abdominal pain, usually inherent in normal physiological processes in the body of the future mother. Although sometimes they may be the first bell, signaling the pathology of pregnancy.

But the allocation of unusual shades are more characteristic of infectious diseases of the female urogenital system inflammatory or purulent nature. For example, yellow-brown, yellow discharge during pregnancy may indicate inflammation of the vagina (colpitis), appendages (adnexitis). Uterine tubes (salpingitis). If the discharge becomes yellowish or greenish, you can suspect sexually transmitted infections (trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, chlamydia). But in any case, in addition to brown and colored secretions during pregnancy, there will be other symptoms of pathology (lower abdominal pain, fever, unpleasant smell of discharge caused by bacterial microflora, itching, burning, rashes).

The truth is that sometimes hormonal preparations (for example, “Utrozhestan” in the form of vaginal forms), condoms, gaskets, lubricants, intimate hygiene products, synthetic underwear, drugs (if allergies appear) can give a yellowish tint to the secretions. The change in color of the discharge to yellow-brown can also trigger the development of diabetes mellitus (gestational diabetes).

White-brown discharges in which blood is mixed not with transparent vaginal secretion, but with bleach, an almost opaque, obscure discharge of uniform consistency, are also considered not quite normal during pregnancy. Yes, during pregnancy the number of whiter increases, which is considered normal. Mixing with them, the blood just becomes a beige or brownish shade and smearing consistency. But if on the general background white small lumps in the form of grains of cottage cheese are visible in the discharge, then we are talking about a fungal infection - thrush, the second bright symptom of which is itching of the genitals.

The alarming factors for white-brown discharge should also be: the appearance of an unpleasant sour or rotten smell, pain and discomfort in the lower abdomen, fever. The fact is that an increase in the number of whiter often signals inflammatory and neoplastic pathologies of the female genitals. Often, where there is inflammation, there is infection. So you need to be very attentive to the appearance of unusual discharge, I note any suspicious symptoms. It is better to pass a smear on the microflora once more than to become a hotbed of infection that is dangerous for the child.

Even more serious is the situation with gray-brown discharge, as women during pregnancy call a vaginal secretion mixed with pus. The purulent process in the bowels of a woman can be triggered by an infection, including conditionally pathogenic microorganisms (for example, staphylococci), and rotting fetal tissue inside the uterus. Purulent discharge is also characteristic of sexually transmitted infections. So when trichomoniasis observed grayish frothy discharge, and chlamydia can be accompanied by the appearance of pus in the discharge, giving them a peculiar dirtyish tint. Usually, STIs are accompanied by other symptoms (itching, rash on the body, painful urination, an increase in the inguinal lymph nodes, etc.), but the latent course of the disease cannot be ruled out.

It turns out that the color of secretions and the change in their hue can be judged on the processes occurring in the body of a woman. But this information is not enough to make an accurate diagnosis. Most often, a woman can only assume the presence or absence of some pathologies. And this is an extra excitement, so unnecessary for the future mother in her delicate position. By the color and nature of the discharge, you only need to judge how soon the woman will need to report them to her doctor, and let the specialists do the diagnosis.

Translation Disclaimer: The original language of this article is Russian. For the convenience of users of the iLive portal who do not speak Russian, this article has been translated into the current language, but has not yet been verified by a native speaker who has the necessary qualifications for this. In this regard, we warn you that the translation of this article may be incorrect, may contain lexical, syntactic and grammatical errors.

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