What are the causes of brownish discharge during pregnancy?

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What are the causes of brownish discharge during pregnancy?
Brown discharge may be experienced during a healthy pregnancy. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Daniel Lobo)

A rise in hormone production during pregnancy can be responsible for an increase in vaginal discharge. Brown-coloured discharge can be normal during pregnancy, but if it is experienced with other symptoms it may be a sign of a serious problem.

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Common Pregnancy Discharge

Also called leukorrhea, normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy is white, thin, milky and mild-smelling. Discharge that is yellow or green-tinted and accompanied by a strong smell and/or itching may be a sign of an infection.

Implantation Bleeding

Brown discharge that is noticed around the time of an expected period or in early pregnancy can be the result of implantation bleeding. When the fertilised egg implants itself into the uterine wall, light bleeding that may be light pink or brown in colour is sometimes noticed.


Women who have human papillomavirus (HPV) may notice brown discharge during their pregnancy as a sign of the virus. Though there is no treatment for the virus, a doctor can complete a test to determine if HPV is present.

Miscarriage or Ectopic Pregnancy

Consistent brown discharge or spotting that is accompanied by abdominal cramping may be a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus in the Fallopian tube and may be life-threatening to the woman.


Any brown discharge or spotting that is noticed while pregnant should be reported to a physician during a regularly scheduled appointment. Pregnant women who experience brown discharge that is severe, lasts for several days or is accompanied by abdominal discomfort should contact their doctor immediately to determine the health of the embryo or foetus.

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