Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which endometrial tissue similar to that found in your uterus grows outside your uterus. This causes pain and other symptoms.
Vaginal discharge is fluid produced by your vagina and cervix. It helps keep your vagina:
- protected from bacteria
The following changes in your vaginal discharge often indicate an underlying concern, such as an infection or a health condition:
While endometriosis doesn’t usually cause an increase in vaginal discharge, it can sometimes cause changes in the way your discharge looks.
In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between endometriosis and vaginal discharge, including when it’s time to schedule a visit with a healthcare professional.
In most cases, endometriosis does not cause significant changes in the amount or consistency of vaginal discharge. In fact, only one small, old 1980 study linked endometriosis to increased vaginal discharge.
However, endometriosis may cause changes in the color of vaginal discharge due to menstrual irregularities. Spotting that occurs outside of menstruation because of endometriosis can appear as pink or brown tinted discharge.
Endometrial tissue that grows outside your uterus and bleeds into your discharge can make your discharge appear in these colors:
Healthy vaginal discharge appears as a clear or white fluid with a mild odor. As the menstrual cycle progresses throughout the month, it can also change in consistency.
Changes in the color of your vaginal discharge, along with other symptoms, may indicate an underlying health condition such as endometriosis. For example, endometriosis can cause:
- Pink discharge. Pink discharge generally indicates the presence of fresh blood. Endometriosis itself can cause irregular bleeding, or it can be linked to other potential causes of pink discharge. For example, irregular menstrual spotting and ovarian cysts, both of which can be caused by endometriosis, can produce pink discharge.
- Brown discharge. Brown discharge is usually caused by the oxidation of blood. Unlike pink discharge, brown discharge happens with blood that takes longer to exit your body. Endometriosis can sometimes cause brown-tinted discharge from trapped endometrial tissue that’s unable to shed. Atypical bleeding patterns that accompany endometriosis can also cause brown discharge.
- Black discharge. Black discharge, like brown discharge, happens with oxidized blood that takes a longer time to leave your body. Endometriosis can cause black discharge if there’s endometrial tissue causing a blockage within your vaginal cavity. Black discharge can also appear from endometrial tissue that’s trapped but still produces blood.
Endometriosis does not usually cause a change in the smell or texture of your discharge. However, a
- heavy or irregular menstrual periods
- painful menstrual cramps, which can worsen over time
- pain during or after sexual intercourse
- pain in your pelvic region
- painful bowel movements during menstruation
- painful urination during menstruation
- spotting before or between periods
Endometriosis pain tends to be more severe than regular period pain and often feels like extreme period cramps. Pain that accompanies endometriosis can spread:
- beyond your uterus
- to your lower back
- down your legs
Endometriosis pain can even occur outside of menstruation, such as during sex or bowel movements.
Tips for coping with endometriosis
Endometriosis is a chronic condition that can cause debilitating symptoms. A
However, if you feel that surgery may not work best for your health needs, here are some tips to cope with some symptoms of endometriosis in your daily life:
- Advocate for treatment. Treatment is important for managing the chronic pain caused by endometriosis. When endometriosis is mistaken for other conditions, it can delay important pain-relieving treatment options. Advocating for proper testing and diagnosis can get you on the right track toward increasing your quality of life.
- Adjust your diet. Dietary changes may help reduce the symptoms of endometriosis by keeping hormones balanced and inflammation low. Increasing consumption of anti-inflammatory foods, such as vegetables, and avoiding inflammatory foods, such as trans fat, may help reduce inflammation and pain.
- Consider different sex practices. Painful sexual intercourse can deter people with endometriosis from having sex. Tracking your cycle, taking pain relievers, using lube, and even trying different positions and alternatives to penetration can all help lessen pain during intimacy.
- Monitor any changes. Endometriosis can sometimes be affected by other underlying changes in your health, such as pregnancy or menopause. Monitoring any changes in your symptoms can help make sure you’re receiving the right treatment for your experience.
Schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional if you’re having vaginal discharge that’s different from your normal discharge in its:
While changes in vaginal discharge are not always caused by endometriosis, they can indicate other underlying health conditions that require treatment.
It’s a good idea to also schedule an appointment with a gynecologist as soon as possible if you experience any other symptoms of endometriosis, such as:
- irregular periods
- painful intercourse
In most cases, endometriosis does not have a significant impact on your vaginal discharge’s:
However, endometriosis does cause menstrual irregularities, which can in turn cause vaginal discharge to sometimes appear:
It’s important to remember that endometriosis is not the only cause of changes in vaginal discharge. For this reason, any new or concerning symptoms — especially new or worsening pain — should always be addressed by a healthcare professional or gynecologist.