Discharge with a red or dark brown tint is usually just a sign that your period is about to begin. It may also be caused by a slower shedding of the uterine lining and will generally occur after the menstrual cycle. Sometimes, during menstruation, there are leftovers of the uterine wall that were not yet completely shed, or that did not make a timely exit during the menstrual cycle. When this old blood is discharged from the body it may be discolored and cause the normal vaginal discharge to be brown in color. The shade of red can vary from bright to a dark rust color. It can also be the result of light bleeding (mixed with normal discharge) after penetration.
However, if your discharge is also frothy, has a foul odor, and is accompanied by burning and itching symptoms while urinating, this is considered abnormal vaginal discharge. If you experience these symptoms, you should definitely go to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Likewise, if you’re bleeding in between cycles or it looks slightly off, it could signify something more serious. Possible culprits could include, but are not limited to, breakthrough bleeding on the pill, infections, polyps, ectopic pregnancy, and pregnancy. Pink discharge most commonly occurs with spotting before a period. However, it can also be a sign of implantation bleeding in early pregnancy. Some women experience a little bit of spotting after ovulation, which can also cause pink discharge. Bottom line, while there are many benign causes of intermenstrual bleeding, it can sometimes signal a serious condition so you should see a doctor to be on the safe side.
Lastly, anyone who has gone through menopause and not had a period for at least 1 year should see a doctor if they experience vaginal bleeding. It can sometimes be a sign of endometrial cancer.