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Pink vaginal discharge: 8 main causes and what to do

Some women have a tendency to have pink discharge and this is usually not a reason for concern, since this type of discharge usually is linked to menstrual cycle, the use of contraceptives or simple hormonal changes.

However, in other cases, pink discharge may also be a sign of some conditions that should be assessed by a gynecologist, especially if other symptoms or signs appear, such as stomach aches, nausea or discharge with a certain odor. 

Pink vaginal discharge: 8 main causes and what to do

Some causes that can lead to pink discharge are:

1. The beginning or end of the menstrual cycle 

Some women may have pink discharge at the beginning or at the end of their menstrual cycle. This generally originates from a mixture of blood and vaginal discharge.

What to do: having pink discharge at the beginning or at the end of menstruation is perfectly normal so no treatment is necessary.

2. Hormonal imbalance

When a woman undergoes hormonal changes, she may have pink discharge. This happens when estrogen levels are not sufficient for keeping the lining of the uterus stable, which causes it to shed. This can have pink coloring.  

What to do: hormonal imbalance can be caused by several factors, such as stress, bad diet, being overweight, or a disease. Therefore, it is important to visit a general practitioner or endocrinologist in order to understand the cause of the imbalance.  

3. Use of contraceptives

Some women have pink discharge when they start or change contraceptives. This is more common when the contraceptives used have low estrogen levels, or they have progestogens in them. 

Additionally, this can also happen if the contraceptive is not taken properly.

What to do: generally, this symptom arises during the first month or for three months after the contraceptive is started. However, if this symptom occurs for longer, you should visit a gynecologist. 

4. Ovarian cysts 

An ovarian cyst consists of a pocket full of liquid that can form inside or around the ovary and be either asymptomatic, or cause symptoms such as pink discharge, pain, period changes, or difficulty getting pregnant.

What to do: ovarian cysts are only treated in certain situations, such as the occurrence of malign symptoms or characteristics. In these cases, the doctor may recommend the use of a contraceptive pill that contains estrogen or progesterone, or, in extreme cases, the removal of the ovary.

5. Pregnancy

Pink discharge can also be a symptom of pregnancy, which occurs due to implantation. This corresponds to the implantation of the embryo to the endometrium, which is a tissue that covers the inside of the uterus. 

What to do: pink discharge during implantation is perfectly normal, even though it does not happen to all women. However, if the intensity of the bleeding increases, please visit a gynecologist.  

6. Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection that starts in the vagina and that rises, affecting the uterus and also the fallopian tubes and the ovaries. It can also spread to a great part of the pelvic area and even the abdomen, creating symptoms such as pink, yellowish or greenish colored discharge, bleeding during sexual intercourse, and pelvic pain.

What to do: generally pelvic inflammatory disease is treated through antibiotics. However, depending on the gravity of the illness, surgery may be necessary.

7. Miscarriage

Pink discharge can also be a sign of miscarriage, which is very common in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. It can happen due to the fetus not developing properly, the mother consuming too much alcohol or medication, or abdominal trauma. 

Generally, the signs and symptoms occur quickly and can include fever, strong abdominal pain, headache, and pink discharge that can evolve to greater blood loss and passing clots through the vagina.

What to do: if the woman suspects she is having a miscarriage, she should go straight to the emergency department. 

8. Menopause

When a woman is in the transition period to menopause, she undergoes hormonal changes, which result in changes to the menstrual cycle. As a consequence, symptoms such as pink discharge, hot flushes, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, or mood changes can occur. 

What to do: a woman going through menopause should only undergo treatment if symptoms cause discomfort and compromise quality of life. In some cases, hormone replacement therapy or diet supplements may be justified. 

Bibliography >

  • ZAHIDY, Zina Abdulkareem. Causes and Management of Ovarian Cysts. The Egyptian Journal of Hospital Medicine . Vol.70. 70.ed; 1818-1822, 2018
  • NAVEED, Safila et. al.. Hormonal imbalance and its causes in young females. Journal of Innovations in Pharmaceuticals and Biological Sciences. Vol.2. 1.ed; 12-16, 2015
  • DASHARANTHY, Sonya, et. al.. Menstrual Bleeding Patterns Among Regularly Menstruating Women. American Journal of Epidemiology. Vol.175. 6.ed; 536-545, 2012
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