According to the McKinley Health Center of the University of Illinois, a healthy vagina emits normal secretions that regulate and keep it clean. These discharges can range from clear to yellowish or cloudy white. McKinley Health Center also states that vaginal discharge varies due to such things as the menstrual cycle, birth control pills, nutrition and pregnancy. Variations from normal can indicate infection or disease.
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Baby Med indicates a dark brown or black vaginal discharge may occur six to 12 days after fertilization of an egg when the embryo attaches to the uterine lining. This is known as implantation. Rich in blood, this lining is shed once a month if fertilization does not occur. It is not unusual for a bit of blood to travel down the cervix into the vagina during implantation. Because of the time it takes to pass out of the body, the blood is much darker than normal.
According to Brookside Associates Medical Educational Division, the most common foreign body found in the vagina is a lost or forgotten tampon. Symptoms include black or brownish vaginal discharge accompanied by a foul vaginal odor. Removal is usually done by a doctor, and patients can follow up in two or three weeks unless fever or other signs of sickness occur. Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, but severe, complication.
Cervical cancer is cancer in the upper portion of the vagina that opens to the uterus. The National Institutes of Health states that cervical cancer is a slow spreading cancer that begins as dysplasis, a precancerous condition. Undetected, it can metastasize to other organs. Early cervical cancer does not usually display symptoms, but if present, signs could include a dark brownish discharge and a foul-smelling odor.