What It Might Mean If You Have Pink Discharge

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What does it mean if you have pink discharge?

Anyone with a vagina knows that at various times during the month, we're going to have vaginal discharge. Depending on what's going on in our bodies, that discharge may look or feel different. It may be white, or clear, or red, or even pink.

Wait, pink? Really? What does pink discharge even mean? Well, it could mean a lot of different things, believe it or not.

Pink means that a small amount of blood is present in the vaginal discharge. Says Felice Gersh, M.D. OB/GYN, “The reason for the small amount of blood is not obvious just by that observation.”

RELATED: 5 Causes Of Vaginal Discharge (And What To Do About Each)

Dr. Alyse Kelly-Jones, OB/GYN, agrees that as far as a pink discharge, it is always some type of bleeding. But where is it coming from? “It can be something simple like a bacterial or yeast infection, retained tampon, or an STD like gonorrhea/chlamydia/trichomonas. It also can be a sign of cancer, although that is typically brighter bleeding. My best advice would be don’t ignore this one, and get it looked at right away,” Dr. Kelly-Jones advises.

So, what are the possible causes of pink discharge?

1. Vaginitis

According to gynecologist Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, "A pink discharge could be associated with vaginal infections; however, I always consider that this could be blood. If a pink discharge is persistent, I would consult with your healthcare provider to see if this is indeed blood, and where is it coming from. Again, it can certainly be associated with a vaginitis, but if it is persistent, do check it out."

2. Polyps

Pink discharge after intercourse is more of a concern because, Gersh advises it may be a polyp or lesion.

“There could be a cervical or intra-uterine polyp which was bumped around and bled just slightly. It’s possible there is a cervical lesion, even including a malignancy, though if regular paps and exams happen, that is unlikely,” she says. If you have pink discharge after having sex, see your OB/GYN immediately.

RELATED: 9 Things Your Vaginal Secretions Can Tell You About Your Body And Your Health

3. Infection

Pink discharge can be due to a vaginal infection, thought that is uncommon. “Infections occasionally can cause inflammation which can cause a slight amount of bleeding. This too requires a trip to the OB/GYN,” warns Dr. Gersh.

4. Hormonal issues

“If you’re in or near menopause or on pseudo-hormone-based contraceptives, this can result in a small amount of trauma with sexual activity, resulting in a slight amount of blood being shed,” says Dr. Gersh. Again, to be safe, visit your doctor.

5. Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy will require medication and emergency surgery. The sooner you get medical intervention, the better it is for your own health and your future chances of fertility. 

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6. Miscarriage

If you're bleeding and are pregnant, you should always notify your doctor immediately. Because bleeding of any form (including pink discharge) can be a sign of a miscarriage.

7. Uterine fibroids

Fibroids are extremely common but can have complications if not dealt with and monitored. Pink discharge is common in someone who has fibroids, and their severity and location should be monitored.

It’s always best to find out from a professional rather than worry or miss an important symptom. Understanding that pink means blood will help guide you in determining the cause and receiving appropriate care. And there's no time to waste.

RELATED: What It Means If You Have Black Vaginal Discharge

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at alywalansky@gmail.com.