Read below about bloody vaginal discharge, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your bloody vaginal discharge from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

This symptom can also be referred to as:
Vaginal spotting
Bleeding from vagina

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Bloody Vaginal Discharge Symptoms

Vaginal discharge is a combination of cells and bodily fluids excreted through the vagina. This discharge is a normal biological phenomenon that all women experience. Vaginal discharge is usually a white or clear mucus-like secretion without a strong odor. However, sometimes the quantity and quality of vaginal discharge can change depending on different contexts and conditions.

Since the quantity and quality of vaginal discharge can vary so significantly in amount, color and consistency depending on the context, the most important thing a woman can do is pay attention to symptoms that stray from her normal. For example, discharge that appears abnormal may have an odor or vaginal discharge color you have never experienced.

In the case of bloody vaginal discharge, the fluid may look red but sometimes it can also look brown. You may also experience:

Bloody Vaginal Discharge Causes Overview

Causes of bloody normal discharge are often promptly diagnosed and treated. It is important to seek medical attention promptly from your physician when you notice bloody vaginal discharge symptoms that stray from your normal patterns.

Reproductive Bloody Vaginal Discharge Causes

  • Menstrual Cycle. Discharge that appears bloody can be the result of menstrual residue mixing with vaginal discharge. Often the amount of discharge your body produces increases at the end of your menstrual cycle, making this mixing more likely to occur. The discharge can often look brown or rusty.
  • Pregnancy Complications. Bloody discharge that occurs during pregnancy (a time when you should NOT expect to be bleeding or having a period) can be a sign of serious pregnancy complications such as miscarriage or placental abruption (a serious condition in which the placenta separates from the lining of the uterus).
  • Age-related. Similar to pregnancy, sometimes women experience bleeding that occurs during a time in life that is not expected such as during the early stages of puberty and final stages of a woman's reproductive years (menopause). This irregular bleeding can mix with normal discharge creating a bloody or brown appearance.

Cancerous Bloody Vaginal Discharge Causes

  • Cervical. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. The cervix is susceptible to the sexually transmitted infection Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that can transform the cells of the cervix into cancer cells. Bloody or brown vaginal discharge can be a sign of cervical cancer.
  • Uterine/Endometrial. The endometrium is the layer of cells that line the uterus. Women of menopausal age are at risk for the development of cancerous cells within this lining, called endometrial or uterine cancer. Blood-tinged discharge can be a sign of this type of cancer as well.

Infectious Bloody Vaginal Discharge Causes

The female reproductive system is open to the environment via the vagina, making it particularly susceptible to infection by not only outside organisms but organisms already present within its walls. Irritation from such infectious causes can result in bleeding that mixes with discharge.

  • Bacterial. Bacteria that normally inhabits the vagina can overgrow and cause infection that leads to abnormal vaginal discharge. Furthermore, many sexually transmitted infections due to bacteria such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause similar symptoms.
  • Fungal. Yeast is a type of fungus normally present in the vagina under a delicate balance. When this balance is disrupted, yeast can also overgrow and cause infection that results in vaginal itching and abnormal discharge.

Other Bloody Vaginal Discharge Causes

  • Obstructive. Any object inserted into the vagina that can obstruct the flow of vaginal fluid may result in abnormal vaginal discharge that may appear bloody. For example, intrauterine devices (IUDs) can change the amount, quality and consistency of your vaginal discharge as well as menstrual cycle.
  • Anatomical. Rarely, an abnormal anatomical opening between the vagina and the rectum or the vagina and the bladder (fistula) allows feces or urine to leak into the vagina resulting in what may appear to be brown discharge with a foul odor.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Bloody Vaginal Discharge

Updated on Aug. 29, 2018

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced bloody vaginal discharge. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Ovulation Pain (Mittelschmerz) or Midcycle Spotting

    Mittelschmerz, also known as ovulation pain or mid-cycle pain, is abdominal pain that occurs around the time the egg is released from an ovary. Ovulation can sometimes cause some mild vaginal bleeding, spotting or blood-stained/brown discharge as well.

    As ovulation occurs monthly, it's possible you will experience this pain once a month.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    abdominal pain (stomach ache), last period approximately 2 weeks ago, vaginal bleeding, bloody vaginal discharge, pelvis pain
    Symptoms that always occur with ovulation pain (mittelschmerz) or midcycle spotting:
    last period approximately 2 weeks ago
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Endometriosis

    Endometriosis is a disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the uterine walls grows outside the uterus.

    Recovery is dependent on severity of disease and treatment approach.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, abdominal pain (stomach ache), vaginal bleeding, pelvis pain, painful periods
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

    Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female genital structures like the uterus, fallopian tube, ovary, and the surrounding abdominal wall. It is typically caused by N. Gonorrhoeae or C. Trachomatis.

    Prognosis after treatment within 3 days of symptom onset is great (88%-100%). Those that are hospitalized, older, or have had gynecological surgery have a worse time with this infection.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, abdominal pain or unusual vaginal discharge, vaginal discharge, nausea or vomiting, vaginal bleeding, pelvis pain
    Symptoms that always occur with pelvic inflammatory disease:
    fever, abdominal pain or unusual vaginal discharge
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  4. 4.Cervical Polyp

    Cervical polyps are noncancerous growths in the cervical canal. Associated symptoms include spotting and bleeding during or after sexual intercourse.

    If symptoms are bothersome, the polyp can be surgically removed.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, bleeding after sex, heavy menstrual flow, mucousy vaginal discharge
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Bloody Vaginal Discharge Checker

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  5. 5.Endometrial Polyp

    Endometrial polyps are noncancerous growths in the uterine cavity. Associated symptoms include spotting and bleeding during or after sexual intercourse.

    If symptoms are bothersome, the polyp can be surgically removed.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, bleeding after sex, heavy menstrual flow, trouble getting pregnant
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Chlamydia Infection

    Chlamydia is a common bacterial infection that is spread through unprotected sex. Each year, over 1 million Americans are diagnosed with this STD.

    The infection should clear in 1-7 days after treatment.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, sudden urgency to urinate, bleeding after sex, frequent urination
    Symptoms that never occur with chlamydia infection:
    improving vaginal discharge
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Gonococcal Cervicitis

    Gonorrhea is a common STD and 350,000 cases occur each year in the United States. It is transmitted through unprotected sex.

    1 week with treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, painful sex, yellow pus vaginal discharge, heavy menstrual flow
    Symptoms that never occur with gonococcal cervicitis:
    improving vaginal discharge
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Normal Case of Spotting

    Spotting is vaginal bleeding that occurs between periods. Many women experience spotting between periods and it is often nothing to worry about. Oral contraceptives (the pill) can cause spotting as a side effect, especially if they have a low estrogen dose, someone started on them recently or does not take them on the same time everyday. Additionally, hormone supplements that only contain estrogen (often used in menopause) can cause spotting as well.

    A few days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal bleeding or bloody discharge, bloody vaginal discharge, mild unexpected vaginal bleeding, vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge
    Symptoms that always occur with normal case of spotting:
    vaginal bleeding or bloody discharge
    Symptoms that never occur with normal case of spotting:
    severe unexpected vaginal bleeding, vaginal pain, vaginal itch or burning, bleeding after sex, severe abdominal pain
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  9. 9.Normal Case of Vaginal Discharge

    Vaginal discharge is a common issue many women experience and is likely nothing to worry about. Your vaginal discharge can change depending on your menstrual cycle. Recent initiation or a change in contraceptives can also cause a temporary change in discharge.

    A few days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, mild vaginal discharge, white/gray vaginal discharge, clear vaginal discharge, severe vaginal discharge
    Symptoms that always occur with normal case of vaginal discharge:
    vaginal discharge
    Symptoms that never occur with normal case of vaginal discharge:
    vaginal itch or burning, painful urination, severe vaginal discharge, vaginal pain, abdominal pain (stomach ache), bleeding after sex, missed period, vulvovaginal odor
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch

Bloody Vaginal Discharge Treatments and Relief

If you notice blood-tinged vaginal discharge, make sure to take note of benign conditions that may be affecting the color of your discharge. Think about the timing of your last menstrual cycle or recent sexual activity.

However, if your bloody vaginal discharge symptoms are occurring outside of a normal pattern, make an appointment with your physician. Your physician may perform tests that include:

  • Pelvic exam. Your physician will carefully inspect the outer genitals and use a device called a speculum to open the vagina and/or two fingers to examine the inner pelvic organs such as the cervix and uterus.
  • Pap smear. During a pap smear, your physician will sample cells from the cervix and examine them for abnormalities that could be related to precancerous or cancerous conditions.
  • Ultrasound of the uterus. An ultrasound uses sound waves that will allow your physician to look for abnormalities in the lining of the uterus.
  • Tissue samples of the vagina and uterus. Your physician will look at these tissues under a microscope or with more advanced laboratory tools in order to assess different types of infections or cancerous cells.

After the results of this testing, depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe:

  • Antibiotics. Antibiotics are available for many sexually transmitted infections and bacteria.
  • Vaccination. Vaccination against HPV is available for women between the ages of 9 and 26. Your physician may suggest this as a preventive measure to decrease your risk of cervical cancer.
  • Changes to your current contraceptive regimen. If contraceptive methods or other medications are contributing to your bloody vaginal discharge symptoms, your doctor may discuss stopping your current medications in favor of a new regimen.
  • Surgery or radiation. If your bloody vaginal discharge symptoms are due to cancerous conditions, your doctor will suggest surgery or radiation therapy. For women with advanced cancers, chemotherapy is also an option.

If you experience bloody vaginal discharge that becomes vaginal bleeding accompanied by abdominal pain, cramping, fever or chills during any trimester of pregnancy, seek emergency medical attention immediately. These could be signs of serious pregnancy complications that require emergency care.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Bloody Vaginal Discharge

  • Q.Are you sexually active?
  • Q.Do you feel pain when you urinate?
  • Q.Do you use birth control beside condoms?
  • Q.Do you bleed after having sex?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our bloody vaginal discharge symptom checker to find out more.

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Bloody Vaginal Discharge Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced bloody vaginal discharge have also experienced:

    • 23% Vaginal Bleeding
    • 12% Abdominal Cramps (Stomach Cramps)
    • 7% Vaginal Discharge
  • People who have experienced bloody vaginal discharge had symptoms persist for:

    • 39% Less Than a Week
    • 26% Less Than a Day
    • 18% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced bloody vaginal discharge were most often matched with:

    • 55% Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
    • 33% Endometriosis
    • 11% Ovulation Pain (Mittelschmerz) or Midcycle Spotting
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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