Vaginal fluids protect the vagina from infections and release the flow of urine and periods smoothly. Vagina has good bacteria flora, which protects against harmful infection-causing microorganisms like chlamydia. Therefore, a clear vaginal fluid is normal. However, if you experience discharge that smells like vinegar or different colors in the discharge, then it can be a sign of an underlying condition. This blog will explore eight causes of pink discharge and when to consult a doctor.
What is Pink Vaginal Discharge?
Light-colored vaginal discharge can indicate different underlying reasons, from post-delivery cleaning of the uterine wall to early implantation signs. It usually occurs before a period and can indicate irregular period spotting due to hormonal imbalance. Let’s explore the reasons for pink discharge to narrow down the culprit further.
9 Common Causes of Pink Vaginal Discharge
A vaginal discharge serves to keep the vagina moist and clean and protects against infection. It also keeps in the healthy bacterial flora, which fights against any harmful fungus or bacterial infection. It is a term used to indicate any non-period fluid that the vagina excretes.
However, it is crucial to check the smell and the color of the released discharge. Any abnormality noticed should be addressed immediately to avoid any harmful situation. So, in the case of pink discharge, the following reasons can indicate the cause:
One of the most prominent causes of pink discharge, more like light pink blood, can be lochia. After the birth of a child, the mother often experiences pink discharge due to the uterine wall’s cleaning process, which is called lochia. This process continues until 4-6 weeks post-delivery with a stale smell. The first four days post-delivery is usually accompanied by heavy clots and bleeding, but after day 4 the bleeding becomes light and eventually pink or sometimes brown discharge. After 10 days it becomes creamy yellowish before finally stopping.
Periods Start or End
Light colour of the discharge can also indicate the end or the beginning of the period which is normal in most cases or sometimes indicate the irregularity of the periods due to hormonal changes. Period spots often mix with normal discharge and cause a pinkish colour.
Another possibility of the pink discharge is the hormonal imbalance if the pink discharge occurs nowhere around the period’s date. Low levels of estrogen hormone can cause pink discharge due to the damage or breakage of the uterine wall and, therefore, irregular shedding of the uterine wall. This occurs due to the has insufficient estrogen levels, which keep the wall intact. It can occur due to age closer to menopause, or stress which causes fluctuations in the hormonal level.
Estrogen imbalance can also occur due to taking birth control pills or switching to a new one. This type of pink discharge or light bleeding is also called breakthrough bleeding.
Other symptoms that indicate low estrogen levels include weight gain, bone loss, depression, urinary tract infections, hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia. Either your body will accept the contraceptive and restore the normal estrogen level on its own in a few months. Otherwise, it can take longer than three months in some cases.
It can also explain the pink discharge at times. So what happens is that the egg is released from the fallopian tube two weeks before the period’s start date. It is also called mid-cycle spotting, and approximately 5% of women experience mid-cycle spotting, or 4.8% to be precise. At this time, as the production of the clear cervical fluid or discharge is abundant, therefore, the period spot appears pink instead of red color. It can also accompany lower abdomen pain and a high chance of getting pregnant at this stage.
Although rare, it can also indicate an ovarian cyst. It occurs in rare cases, but to rule out the possibility, it is important to consider it in the first place. Ovarian cysts that develop when the egg doesn’t break at ovulation and continue to grow are called follicular cysts. It appears as a fluid-filled sack in one of the ovaries. It may not show any symptoms and go away on its own in a few months.
However, early diagnosis is important to prevent complications that can occur in case the cyst cause ovarian rupture. There are some types of cysts that can increase in size and cause pink discharge, like dermoid cysts and cystadenomas.
After 10 weeks of gestation period, if you experience spotting or pink discharge then chances are that you could experience a miscarriage. Along with spotting if a mother experiences other symptoms like clots and tissues along with discharge, lower abdomen pain, fainting, brown discharge, dizziness, and fainting. Note that it is not always the case and can be normal. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult your doctor if you experience any such symptoms for proper diagnosis of the situation.
Another reason behind pink discharge can be the perimenopause phase as it is a transitioning period in the life of women and the body prepares itself for the complete menopause phase. Thus, fluctuations in the hormones are normal and as a result, spotting can occur.
It is a non-cancerous growth of the tissue around the uterus and is mostly asymptomatic. In some cases, when they do show signs it is in the form of abnormal vaginal bleeding. Other accompanying symptoms include painful intercourse, pain while urinating, and lower back or pelvic pain.
Pink discharge can also indicate urinary tract infections like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), also called sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea. Such infections can cause abnormal bleeding or pink discharge. Other later symptoms include irregular spotting, vaginal itching, painful intercourse, and difficulty urinating. If left untreated, STIs can spread to reproductive organs and is called pelvic inflammatory infection, which can even cause infertility or chronic pelvic pain.
Therefore, it is best to consult your doctor immediately if you are doubting infection.
Should I worry about light pink discharge?
The cause until unknown is a matter of worry. Therefore, it is best to consult your doctor for the correct and timely diagnosis of the situation. It can be a sign of cervical cancer in rare cases. In most cases, the discharge is white or clear but if blood mixes with the discharge in case of cancer then it can look like a pink discharge. Other symptoms that accompany pink discharge include weight loss, swelling in legs, fatigue, pain while defecating or urinating, etc.
However, not every woman experiences these symptoms, sometimes it is completely asymptomatic, and detection can only be possible in pap tests.
Consult a Doctor
If you experience other symptoms along with pink discharge like pain during intercourse, or while urinating, foul smelling, itching or soreness, fever, and sudden stabbing pelvic pain then you must see a doctor immediately as these symptoms indicate a serious health condition.
Pink discharge can also indicate a urinary tract infection as well, especially if your periods are nowhere close. In the case of chlamydia infection, the fungus makes the discharge look pink or even causes bleeding between periods or post-intercourse.
Bacterial vaginosis, like other urinary tract infections, can also cause pink discharge due to cervix or vaginal inflammation.
During menopause, fluctuations in hormones occur, which can result in pink discharge as well due to fluctuations in estrogen level or even heavy flow like a normal period. These symptoms suggest that the body is undergoing menopause changes, and it is always a good idea to discuss these symptoms with your doctor for the right advice.