Many women have a small amount of vaginal discharge, especially during their fertile years. This discharge is regularly a clear, white or slightly yellow fluid secreted by glands in the cervix and vaginal lining.
An increase in the amount of discharge and a change in color could indicate an infection or other problem in the reproductive tract. Talk to your doctor if you experience any significant change in the amount or color of your vaginal discharge.
Common and regularly harmless causes
The cause of a yellowish or brown vaginal discharge is often a common and regularly innocuous issue. For example, a woman in the early stages of pregnancy may have some brown discharge, or spotting, when the embryo is implanted in the uterus.
The discharge is caused by slight bleeding from the uterine lining and regularly subsides within a couple of days. A light brown discharge may also occur after intercourse, if the vaginal lining bleeds slightly due to irritation. This is especially likely after menopause, when the vaginal lining can become thin and fragile. If the discharge persists, a treatment with a lubricant or a medication may be appropriate.
A set of regularly harmless bacteria are normally present in the vagina. If something disturbs the balance of these bacteria, there can be a greater population of potentially harmful bacteria and cause symptoms, including a fragrant discharge and that is white to yellow or brown. The cause of this condition, called bacterial vaginosis, is not fully understood. However, having a new sexual partner and douching are situations associated with an increased risk.
An abnormal vaginal discharge may be the result of an increase in the fungal population.Although there are small amounts of fungus that normally exist in the vagina, exaggerated growth could result in dense vaginal discharge that is tinged with yellow, swollen, burning and itching. Antifungal medication without a prescription is usually effective, but some women experience recurrent infections and require additional treatment.
Possible serious problems
In rare cases, a yellow or brown vaginal discharge may indicate a serious problem. An abortion may cause a prolonged brown discharge when the initial bleeding subsides. Having problems with the placenta during pregnancy can also cause a spotting or bleeding, which should be checked immediately by an obstetrician. A brown vaginal discharge or bleeding could develop in a woman with uterine or cervical cancer, although sometimes there are no symptoms, especially in the early stages.