Have you noticed pink discharge in your underwear or when you wipe? Here we explore what pink discharge is and what’s causing it with expert advice from Dr. Jenna Flanagan, academic generalist obstetrician and gynecologist, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts, US.
- Pink discharge usually occurs when fresh blood combines with your normal vaginal discharge.
- There are a number of causes for pink discharge, including sores on your vulva, cuts or tears in your vagina or cervix, and growths in your uterus.
- You may also experience pink discharge at the beginning or end of your period, when using hormonal birth control, after sex, or after giving birth.
- Pink discharge is usually harmless, but it’s best to speak to your doctor if you’re concerned.
What is pink discharge?
First things first: it’s important to note that vaginal discharge is very normal. Made up of mostly water, vaginal discharge is the umbrella term used to describe any nonperiod fluid or mucus that’s produced by the glands inside your vagina and cervix throughout your cycle. Not only is it normal, but it’s important, too: it plays a crucial role in keeping your vagina clean, moist, and protected from infection.
Chances are you’ll know what’s typical for you, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering why you have pink discharge. The majority of the time, this happens when fresh blood combines with discharge. You can tell if it’s fresh blood as blood gets darker the longer it’s out of the blood vessels and in contact with the air. This is called oxidation. It’s why you might experience brown discharge at the end of your period.
And where exactly does the blood come from? “The blood can be from any number of sources, including the vulva, vagina, cervix, or uterus,” explains Dr. Flanagan. More on this later.
How long does it usually last?
This depends on what’s causing it. For example, you might experience light bleeding at the start of your period or pink discharge following childbirth that can last for up to 12 days. “Typically, pink discharge is short term and can often be explained when recent activities and factors are considered,” says Dr. Flanagan.
Is cramping normal?
Yes, cramping and pink discharge are very normal during your period. Over to Dr. Flanagan again: “If the discharge is at the beginning of the menstrual cycle or during the menstrual cycle, pink discharge can be associated with cramping,” she says. In fact, it’s estimated that more than half of us experience pain for one or two days around our period. Thanks, Mother Nature!