Is Brown or Yellow Discharge a Sign of Early Pregnancy? Find Out More

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Written by Shandra Williams

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Seeing an unusually colored discharge on your underwear, on the toilet paper, or in the toilet can be disconcerting, to say the least. Many women who hope – or are worried – that they may be pregnant often assume that these discharges are signs of pregnancy. Is that really the case, though?

Brown discharge could be an early pregnancy sign or a normal part of the menstrual cycle. Dark yellow discharge isn’t usually associated with pregnancy and is more likely to be caused by an infection or STD. Pale yellow discharge could potentially, but doesn’t always, signify pregnancy.

Keep reading to learn more about yellow and brown discharge and what could be causing them. 

Is Brown Discharge an Early Sign of Pregnancy?

Light or dark brown discharge may be an early sign of pregnancy. If you experience brown discharge before your period and have been sexually active, you may want to take a pregnancy test.

woman holding a pantyliner

Usually, brown color discharge is simply old blood finally passing out of the body, so why should old blood signify pregnancy? Couldn’t it just be unshed period blood? 

Yes and no. 

If you haven’t yet had your normal period, it’s unlikely that you’d be seeing unshed period blood. Instead, it could be light bleeding that occurred after implantation (source: Medical News Today).

Once an egg is fertilized, it makes its way into the uterus lining. This process usually occurs one to two weeks after fertilization. Apparently, this is one of those odd pregnancy symptoms that many women have but few women talk about. 

So, if you’ve been sexually active and are experiencing brown (or pink) discharge before it’s time for your period, it could be a common symptom that you’re pregnant. It’s not, however, a definitive pregnancy sign. It is enough to warrant a pregnancy test, though.

Is Brown Discharge After my Period a Sign of Pregnancy?

Brown discharge after your period is less likely to be a common sign of pregnancy. While it could potentially be a pregnancy sign, it’s more commonly a normal part of the menstrual cycle. Many women experience light, medium, or even dark brown discharge for a few days after their periods.

As established above, brown color discharge is usually just old blood. Therefore, it makes sense that you may see some brown blood after your regular period. Not all blood comes out right away. If some of it trickles out slowly a couple of days later, it’s more likely to be brown than red.

Pregnancy-related or not, brown discharge isn’t usually something you should be concerned about. However, if you are pregnant and continue to see it, you may want to visit your doctor. In sporadic cases, continued brown discharge during pregnancy can be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy (source: Healthline). 

It may also indicate an impending miscarriage.

Is Yellow Discharge a Sign of Pregnancy?

Dark yellow discharge usually indicates some kind of illness or vaginal infection and is rarely a sign of pregnancy. However, very pale yellow discharge is often one of the common ‘untalked about’ symptoms of early pregnancy. 

If you’re experiencing a dark yellow vaginal discharge, you should visit your doctor right away. This kind of abnormal discharge usually means something not quite right is happening below the belt. The cause could be a number of things, including: 

  • Yeast infection
  • Gonorrhea 
  • Bacterial infection
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Chlamydia
  • Cervicitis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (source: Healthline)

In some cases, a dark yellow discharge could also occur after changes in diet or medication. However, these things usually cause a hormonal imbalance and often lead to an infection, even if you do not have any other symptoms. 

Other common symptoms that usually come along with infection-caused yellow discharge include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • A foul odor
  • Bumps or a rash

See your doctor right away if you have one or more of these symptoms, along with a yellow discharge.

On the other hand, a light yellow discharge could potentially be an early pregnancy sign. Healthline lists it as number one on its list of “Weird early pregnancy symptoms no one tells you about” (source: Healthline).

Healthline says that, while vaginal discharge isn’t usually a pregnancy sign, “most pregnant women will secrete sticky, white, or pale-yellow mucus early on in the first trimester and throughout their entire pregnancy.”

In other words, even a pale yellow discharge may not mean you’re pregnant. After all, there are lots of other things that it could be. However, it could mean that, so if you think you might be pregnant, pick up a test and find out for sure.

woman with vaginal discharge symptoms

Yellow or Brown Discharge: Before and After Period vs Pregnancy

Dark yellow discharge is never really a normal part of the menstrual cycle. If you notice dark yellow – or green – vaginal discharge, it’s probably time to see a doctor. 

However, pale yellow and brown discharges are typical of the menstrual cycle. You’ll usually see the yellow discharge before your period – up to five days before is not unusual – and the brown discharge after your period. 

Seeing either discharge once or twice between your menstrual periods isn’t all that unusual either. If you’re seeing vaginal discharge and think you may be pregnant, it’s best to watch out for other potential pregnancy signs before jumping to conclusions.

You might also be interested in our guide on whether clear discharge is also an early pregnancy sign.

Hopefully, this article has given you a little peace of mind about what you may be seeing. As always, if you’re concerned, call your doctor. Even if you’re using reputable sources, researching things online is never a substitute for legitimate medical advice.