Vaginal discharge can be a little unpredictable.
On different days, you might notice more or less, it might be thicker or thinner, and it can come in a few different colors too.
So what’s the deal with pink discharge?
While it’s usually nothing to worry about, it might tell you a few things about what’s going on in your body right now.
In this article 📝
- Why is my discharge pink?
- Is it normal to have pink discharge?
- What does pink discharge mean?
- When to worry about pink discharge
Why is my discharge pink?
Before we delve into hues, it’s important to understand what exactly discharge is and what it does.
Basically, vaginal discharge is your body’s natural (if somewhat messy) way of cleaning and protecting itself.
The discharge comes from glands inside your vagina and your cervix. It has a few different jobs as it makes its way out of your body:
- It traps dirt and dead skin cells and carries them away.
- It neutralizes bacteria (thanks to its slightly acidic pH level).
- It protects and lubricates your skin.
Normal vaginal discharge is usually somewhere between clear and milky white on the color spectrum to what looks like light yellow discharge.
It can be really stretchy and slippery, or it can be thicker and more creamy.
And that includes brown and pink spotting.
Which brings us to that light pink discharge.
Is it normal to have pink discharge?
It all depends on where you’re at in your cycle.
Usually, your discharge will get a little clearer and stretchier around the middle of your cycle when you’re ovulating and then get a little thicker or drier again as you get closer to your period.
And eventually, this transforms into that distinctive pink discharge after your period.
But brown pink discharge in the middle of your cycle is slightly more unusual because it means that there’s a small amount of fresh blood mixed in.
Again, of all the colors it could be, a little bit of light pink discharge when you wipe is not usually concerning.
We explore what might be behind that pink when you wipe down below.
What does pink discharge mean?
A lot of women will notice light pink discharge before their period as their bodies gear up to menstruate.
But there are some other common causes to know as well:
Some forms of hormonal birth control—such as the pill—can cause a few days of pink discharge in the middle of your cycle.
You’re more likely to notice this if you run more than one month together to postpone your period, or in the first three months after you start a new brand.
This is sometimes known as ‘breakthrough bleeding’, and it often happens because your estrogen level doesn’t rise and fall when you’re on the pill.
Estrogen is really important for building and strengthening the lining of your uterus every month.
If you don’t have quite enough to keep things stable, you might notice some spotting.
Speaking of low estrogen, it’s also pretty common to have some light pink discharge during menopause.
But while a little spotting between your periods during perimenopause is normal, spotting and bleeding after menopause (when you haven’t had a period for 12 months) is something that needs to be checked by your doctor.
You can read more here: What to Know About Bleeding After Menopause
Sometimes, you might notice pink discharge after sex, or after a pelvic exam or pap smear.
This means that you’ve had some small tears or that some small blood vessels have broken in your cervix or vagina.
It should heal by itself, but if you find that you bleed after an internal exam during pregnancy, it’s best to call your doctor.
Around 14 days after your period starts, your body releases another egg.
Without tracking your basal body temperature or checking your hormone levels, it’s difficult to know exactly when ovulation takes place, but about 5% of women have some light bleeding – and some pink discharge – when they ovulate.
When an egg is fertilized, it heads down to your uterus, where it burrows into the spongy lining and starts to grow.
This can lead to a little bit of spotting or light pink discharge.
Does pink discharge mean pregnancy? Not always, but it can be an early sign.
Implantation happens at some point in the week after you ovulate, which means that you might notice implantation bleeding a few days before you can get a positive result on a pregnancy test.
You can read more about it here: Implantation Bleeding: Everything You Need To Know
If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably been dealing with a bit more discharge than normal.
Right at the end of pregnancy, typically after 37 weeks, you might lose your mucus plug, which has been protecting your baby from dirt and bacteria for the last few months.
Sometimes this comes out in one piece, and sometimes it dissolves and appears as more discharge over a few days.
Often, it’s streaked red or pink because a few of the blood vessels in your cervix have broken as it starts to get thinner and prepare for birth.
Read more about it here: Mucus Plug vs. Discharge: How to Tell the Difference
When to worry about pink discharge
Pink discharge is generally nothing to worry about unless it develops into heavier bleeding.
But while clear, pink, or white discharge is normal, there are some other things to watch out for:
- Color: Vaginal discharge shouldn’t be green, grey, or bright yellow. These can be a sign of an infection.
- Texture: Lumpy discharge (sometimes compared to cottage cheese) is a symptom of a yeast infection. If it’s frothy, it can also indicate a parasite called trichomoniasis.
- Smell: Healthy discharge smells slightly sour or salty, or it doesn’t smell at all. A ‘fishy’ smell or even an onion smell can be a sign of an infection.
- Blood: While a drop of blood turning the discharge pink is OK, heavier bleeding mid-cycle or after sex is not a great sign. It can be a symptom of an STD or another medical condition, such as an ovarian cyst or fibroids.
And even if your vaginal discharge looks completely healthy, if you have pain when you go to the bathroom, during or after sex, or any generalized pain in your pelvis, it’s important to get a checkup from your doctor.