Brown Mucus Plug – Bloody Show or Yeast Infection?

Brown Mucus Plug

One less often discussed part of the labor and delivery progression is the mucus plug. The breaking of the water is commonly associated with the onset of baby time, but the passing of the mucus plug is one of the hallmark symbols of the start of the delivery process. Essentially, the plug serves as a protective barrier within the cervix, shielding the sensitive reproductive system and growing baby inside. When delivery is near, the mucus plug is shed, and it often serves a signal that delivery fast approaching.

This plug passing is often referred to as the bloody show. Normally, it’s characterized by the passing of blood in small amounts, a bloody mucus plug, or mucus that is laced with blood, according to Wikipedia. But, sometimes the bloody show is a little less “bloody” and a little less “showy” than the name implies, and passage instead involves a brown mucus plug. This can lead some people to wonder if this is really the pre-delivery signal they’ve been waiting for, or another issue entirely different in nature such as a yeast infection.

While cervical mucus can certainly vary from person to person, a brown mucus plug simply isn’t a characteristic of a yeast infection. Typically during a vaginal yeast infection, cervical mucus that is normally clear to white in color changes and becomes thicker and completely white and can resemble cottage cheese, as explained by Wikipedia.

In fact, even brown mucus discharge itself is not associated with the common vaginal infection. WebMD explains that menstrual cycle irregularities as well as certain types of cancer such as endometrial or cervical can be responsible for brown mucus discharge. But, one of the most common causes is simply old blood that has combined with clear cervical mucus to create a dingy and dull brown looking discharge.

No, it’s much more likely that a brown mucus plug is evidence of impending baby time. Mayo Clinic explains that once the thinning of the cervix begins in preparation for delivery that the plug (which is often brown) passes and falls out. It’s often accompanied by thick discharge, brown mucus or stringy discharge as well. While it signals the tail end of pregnancy, it’s a relatively poor indicator of time. Labor can begin within a few hours of passing the brown mucus plug or weeks later.

Watch this video to find out how typical mucus plug might look like:

Identifying the difference between the loss of mucus plug and other common causes of brown discharge is easier if the occurrence is close to the 40 week mark of gestation. When this happens within a few weeks of potential delivery, it’s rather simple to see that the brown mucus plug is related to the end stages of pregnancy. However, when it occurs earlier or discharge that can seem like it’s a result of the loss of the brown mucus plug appears earlier than expected; it may simply be a false alarm that can result from intercourse or a vaginal examination.

It is however important that although variances in vaginal discharge are normal with everything from a clear mucus plug to a loss of none at all not being unheard of, that there are some symptoms associated with cervical mucus that can require a visit to the doctor. The loss of the brown mucus plug can result in some minimal bleeding, but if this is heavy or persists, then it is important to receive prompt medical attention. In fact, any heavy or abnormal bleeding that occurs during pregnancy should be evaluated by a health care provider. Other symptoms related to vaginal discharge, such as those that can be indicative of infection, should also be brought to the attention of a doctor as soon as possible. Pregnancy complications and other health concerns can cause a change in mucus color or abnormal bleeding, and these should be discussed with a medical provider swiftly to determine the source.