Pink Discharge

What Does It Mean?

Pink discharge is usually a sign of bleeding, which is common before or after your period. It can also happen at the very start or very end of pregnancy. Sometimes, pink discharge can happen after sex if there is a problem with your vagina or cervix. It may also be a sign of an infection, such as an STI or vaginal infection like bacterial vaginosis.

Read on to learn more about pink vaginal discharge, it’s causes, and how to treat it if you need to.

Dr Clair Grainger

Medically reviewed by

Dr Clair Grainger

Last reviewed: 27 Apr 2022

What is Pink Discharge?

Vaginal discharge can be a normal sign that your vagina is working as it should. Discharge protects your vagina from infection and keeps it clean and moist. Pink discharge is commonly a sign of bleeding from your uterus (womb), so you may get it before, during, or after your period. Pink discharge can also happen during pregnancy.

What does pink discharge look like?

Pink discharge is different for every woman. Your discharge can be clear with a hint of pink, or deep pink. If it is reddy-pink, this is a sign of fresh blood. If your discharge is brown-pink, this may be a sign of blood that has been in your vagina for longer.

Is pink discharge normal?

Depending on the timing, pink discharge is often nothing to worry as this can be normal during, before or after your period. However, you should keep an eye on pink discharge and look for other symptoms, such as a strong smelling discharge or pain when peeing.

If you have pink discharge between your periods during or after sex, after the menopause or when you are pregnant you should always contact a doctor urgently to check for any serious underlying causes.

Common causes of pink discharge

The most common causes of pink discharge are:

  • periods
  • Irritation of the cervix or vagina duringsex
  • pregnancy
  • infection
  • birth control
  • gynaecological cancers like cervical cancer

These can all cause bleeding in your vagina, which is the most common reason for pink discharge.

What Infections Can Cause Pink Discharge?

Some infections can cause pink discharge, as they cause your vagina or cervix to bleed between periods or after sex. STIs can also cause your discharge to change colour or consistency. You should speak to your doctor if you have pink discharge out with your period or other signs of an infection.

Can pink discharge be a sign of infection?

Pink discharge can be a sign of infection, especially if you get it when you’re not on your period. Your discharge might look different if you have a vaginal infection, such as:

  • Chlamydia may cause your discharge to look different or your vagina to bleed between periods or after sex
  • Gonorrhoea can also cause bleeding between periods or after sex

If you have a vaginal infection, you might need treatment to get better. If you have pink discharge and it smells different to normal, you have itching or soreness in your vagina, pain when you pee, pain during sex, fever or pain in your pelvis speak to your doctor promptly.

Can Periods Cause Pink Discharge?

Periods are the most common cause of pink discharge, as your period can mix with your normal discharge creating apink colour. If you are due on or have just finished your period, pink discharge is usually normal.

Pink discharge before period

As your vaginal wall begins to break down, small spots of blood can get mixed with your normal vaginal discharge, which can cause a light pink discharge. As your period gets heavier, this will change to darker pink and then red.

Pink discharge before your period can sometimes be an early sign that you are pregnant. You should speak to your doctor and take a pregnancy test if you do not come on your period.

Pink discharge after period

Pink discharge after your period is normal. During your period, dead cells and blood can sometimes get stuck and are cleaned out by your vaginal discharge. If this is normal for you, you can continue to wear a sanitary towel for a few days after your period until it stops.

You cannot stop pink discharge after your period but if it lasts longer than a few days and happens after every period, speak to your doctor.

Pink Discharge and Pregnancy

Pink discharge can be an early sign of pregnancy or a sign of labour if you have it during the last few weeks of your third trimester. If you get pink discharge during pregnancy, it might mean you are bleeding. You should speak to your GP or midwife straight away if you think you are bleeding.

Pink discharge during pregnancy

If you get pink discharge during your first and second trimester of pregnancy, it could be a sign of bleeding. Pink discharge at the end of your third trimester can be a sign that your body is getting ready to deliver your baby though it’s still important to rule out other causes.

Does discharge change during pregnancy?

Discharge can change during pregnancy and it is normal to have more vaginal discharge than before. This helps to prevent infections travelling to your womb. Discharge during pregnancy should not smell unpleasant and is usually thin, milky white or clear. If you have green, yellow, or pink discharge during pregnancy, or it smells strange, speak to your doctor or midwife.

Is pink discharge a sign of pregnancy?

Pink discharge might be a sign of pregnancy, as some women spot when they first get pregnant. This happens when the fertilised egg attaches to your womb lining. Not every woman will get this. If you think you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test.

Pink stringy discharge during early pregnancy

If you get pink stringy discharge during early pregnancy, this might be a cause for concern. Pink stringy discharge could be a sign that something is wrong, such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

Other symptoms of these include dizziness, sharp pains, fainting, urinary symptoms, diarrhoea or vomiting and bleeding from your vagina. Go to A&E or call 999 straight away if you have pink discharge and any of these symptoms with a positive pregnancy test.

Is pink discharge a sign of labour?

You may get pink discharge at the end of your pregnancy, which is called a “show”. This is a sign that your body is getting ready for labour. Your discharge might contain sticky pink mucus, which has been in your cervix during pregnancy. This usually happens a few days before you go into labour.

Is pink discharge a sign of miscarriage?

Pink discharge might be a sign of miscarriage if you get other symptoms such as bleeding, dizziness, passing blood clots or tissue from your vagina, and pain in your lower stomach.

Is pink discharge during pregnancy a cause for concern?

Pink discharge during pregnancy is not always a cause for concern but you should always contact your GP or midwife to check for any underlying problems.

Pink Discharge and Sex

Sometimes during sex, your vaginal wall can become irritated, which could cause vaginal bleeding. This can cause pink discharge, as blood mixes with your discharge as it comes out of your vagina.

Why do I have pink discharge after sex?

Pink discharge after sex might be caused by irritation or friction in your vagina, which has caused it to bleed. This can also happen after using a sex toy.

Pink discharge during or after sex can also be caused by an STI or gynaecological cancers such as cervical cancer. Even if you only have pink discharge once after sex you should contact your GP so they can check for any serious causes.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you have an up to date STI screen. You can get tested at a sexual health clinic, through your GP, or through our online doctor service.

Pink Discharge and Menopause

Perimenopause is the time just before menopause when your oestrogen levels begin to drop. This can cause irregular periods and spotting, which can cause pink discharge. Pink discharge after the menopause can be a sign of endometrial (womb) cancer. If you get pink discharge during or after menopause, speak to your doctor so they can rule out any serious underlying causes.

How to Prevent Pink Discharge

Pink discharge is not always a cause for concern so does not always need prevention or treatment. To reduce your risk of pink discharge you can:

  • use a condom every time you have sex, as this can reduce the risk of STIs and unplanned pregnancy
  • get regularly tested for STIs when you get a new sexual partner
  • attend your cervical screening appointments

Pink discharge can be prevented by treating the cause if you have other symptoms, such as a vaginal infection or STI. If you get pink discharge whilst taking hormonal contraception you should speak to your doctor to check for any other underlying causes. .

Is pink discharge a cause for concern?

Pink discharge isn’t always a cause for concern, it depends on your circumstances.

If you are due on your period pink discharge can be normal. You may also get pink discharge when you first get pregnant, which may be a sign of pregnancy. At the end of pregnancy, pink discharge can be a sign of labour.

When should I see a doctor about my discharge?

Speak to your doctor if you have pink discharge and other symptoms, such as pain or dizziness, are post menopausal, or you have pink discharge during pregnancy.


Chlamydia (2021) NHS (accessed 25 February 2022)

Female sexual problems (2019) NHS (accessed 25 February 2022)

Postmenopausal bleeding (2020) NHS (accessed 25 February 2022)

Vaginal discharge (2021) NHS (accessed 25 February 2022)

Vaginal discharge in pregnancy (2021) NHS (accessed 25 February 2022)

Vaginitis (2020) NHS (accessed 25 February 2022)

Gonorrhoea (2021) NHS (accessed 14 March 2022)

Ectopic pregnancy (2018) NHS (accessed 14 March 2022)

Cervical cancer (2021) NHS (accessed 14 March 2022)

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