Endometriosis Discharge: Color Changes From Spotting

Some discharge is healthy, but endometriosis may cause unusual spotting

Endometriosis varies in symptoms and severity. Some people may experience spotting between menstrual periods, severe pain with menstruation, or bladder problems, and others will have vague symptoms like cramps.

This article will discuss spotting as a symptom of endometriosis and the difference between vaginal spotting and discharge.

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What Is Vaginal Discharge?

Vaginal discharge is a normal and natural fluid made from the glands around the vagina to keep the vaginal canal clean and lubricated.

Typical discharge ranges in color based on a person's menstrual cycle. Before menstruation, it can appear clear, milky white, or pale yellow. During and after, it may appear red and brown.

Consistency and amount also depend on an individual's cycle and differ from person to person.

Discharge that is green, chunky, thick, watery, or has a fishy odor can point to an underlying condition like an infection or cervical cancer.

Common vaginal infections include yeast infections, trichomoniasis, and bacterial vaginosis. These infections can change the color, smell, and texture of vaginal discharge.

Effect of Endometriosis

In endometriosis, endometrial tissue similar to the inner lining of the uterus grows in other areas of the body. Typically this extra tissue grows on or in reproductive organs in the pelvic area (including ovaries, fallopian tubes, and tissues of the pelvic wall).

Spotting is one common symptom of endometriosis because endometrial tissue overgrowth breaks down and bleeds the same way normal uterine lining does.

When this displaced tissue begins to shed, it can taint your vaginal discharge and cause it to appear pink, brown, or black. This type of spotting usually occurs outside of menstruation.

Spotting vs. Vaginal Discharge

Endometriosis typically doesn't impact the volume or consistency of healthy vaginal discharge, but it can affect color and frequency.

Endometriosis Discharge/Spotting Colors

People with menstrual cycles are very likely to experience spotting around their period, which is usually not a cause for concern. Spotting between periods is a common symptom of endometriosis due to displaced tissue shedding and irregularities in menstruation.

If spotting occurs outside your menstrual window, it can indicate many underlying conditions. So it's always a good idea to track and understand why spotting occurs.

When tracking the color and consistency of irregular spotting, remember that spotting due to endometriosis can appear pink, indicating fresh blood due to irregular bleeding or ovarian cysts. It can also cause brown or black spotting, indicating oxidized blood or tissue that's been blocked or could not be shed.

Recognizing Other Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis symptoms vary from person to person. Some will have little to no symptoms, and others will experience severe pain and bleeding.

What's more, the symptoms of endometriosis can sometimes mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as cervical cancer or ovarian cysts. Diagnosis usually takes time and a patient healthcare provider.

Besides spotting, key symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Painful menstrual cramps
  • General pelvic pain
  • Painful sex
  • Heavy period bleeding
  • Infertility
  • Depression and fatigue
  • Bladder problems
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Link Between Endometriosis and Infections

People with endometriosis have a higher incidence of chronic endometritis (infection or inflammation of the uterus) and more severe pelvic inflammatory disease.

Having pelvic inflammatory disease was found in a 2018 study to raise the risk of endometriosis. Lower genital tract infections (of the cervix, vagina, or vulva) were found to be associated with an increased risk of endometriosis in a 2016 study.

Signs You May Need to Visit a Healthcare Provider

If you notice frequent spotting or abnormal vaginal discharge, you should see a healthcare provider. Because many conditions share these symptoms, a medical professional can help you find an appropriate diagnosis and treatment strategy.

Pain or discomfort in the pelvic region is also a key indicator that it's time to set up an appointment.

Smelly Discharge

Healthy vaginal discharge is typically neutral-smelling and has no alarming or foul odor. However, if your discharge smells fishy, it could indicate a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

It's best to set up an appointment with a healthcare provider at the first notice of an odor. Left untreated for too long, infections can lead to more serious conditions.

Summary

Endometriosis is a chronic condition where endometrial tissue, similar to the inner lining of the uterus, grows in other areas of the body. Because endometrial tissue overgrowth breaks down the same way normal uterine lining does, any displaced tissue can cause irritation, obstruction, pain, or spotting.

Spotting outside your menstrual window is a common symptom of endometriosis but also points to other conditions. It's important to see a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does endometriosis change cervical mucus?

    Typically, no. Endometriosis usually only causes spotting and doesn't change cervical or vaginal mucus.

  • How can you tell if discharge is from endometriosis or fibroids?

    Without an ultrasound or other diagnostic measures, it's difficult to tell the difference between endometriosis and uterine fibroids via symptoms alone. Bleeding between periods and heavy menstruation is common for both conditions.

  • Should you track vaginal discharge?

    Absolutely. Tracking your vaginal discharge is a great way to keep track of your vaginal health. Your vagina keeps itself clean and healthy by secreting clear, mucus-like discharge. When the vagina's natural balance is disrupted for any reason, these fluids will change.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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