Does brown discharge after the Depo shot mean you are pregnant? 

Does brown discharge after the Depo shot mean you are pregnant? 

No, brown discharge after Depo injection does not indicate pregnancy. This is one of the common side effects of these hormonal birth control shots and it is experienced by a majority of women. 

So if you’re experiencing brown discharge, there’s nothing to worry about. it’s just some old worn-out blood with vaginal fluids and mucus. Worn-out RBCs are not fresh, hence they’re brown and not bright red in colour. 

You can expect this side effect to continue for 6 months to a year of using Depo shots (1). This is because these shots contain a high dose of Progestin and your body does not get used to it that easily.

It would take 3 to 4 injections to help your body recognize the hormone and that’s when you can expect the side effects to fade away. Make sure you report your side effects to your doctor and be certain that the Depo shot is the right kind of birth control method for you. 

Common signs and symptoms of pregnancy

Some common signs and symptoms of pregnancy include:

  • Missed period
  • Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness)
  • Breast changes (tenderness, swelling, darkened nipples)
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Food cravings or aversions
  • Mood swings
  • Increased sensitivity to smells
  • Constipation or changes in bowel habits
  • Swelling and water retention

These signs and symptoms can vary among individuals, and some may experience all of them, while others may have only a few. Additionally, these symptoms can also have other causes unrelated to pregnancy. 

If you suspect you may be pregnant, it is recommended to take a pregnancy test and consult with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and guidance.

Other possible causes of brown discharge

The brown vaginal discharge could be caused by a number of reasons, including (2):

  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Infection or inflammation
  • Breakthrough bleeding or bleeding between periods
  • Ovulation-related bleeding
  • Endometrial changes
  • Side effects of certain medications, including birth implants like Nexplanon, vaginal rings like NuvaRing, antibiotics like Metronidazole, etc. 

What to do if you are concerned about the brown vaginal discharge?

Reach out to your healthcare provider if you are concerned about the brown vaginal discharge. If you have other symptoms of pregnancy along with the discharge, there isn’t any harm to go for a quick pregnancy scan to rule it out.

If your brown discharge is linked to something else, your doctor will properly diagnose the exact cause of your symptoms and will determine the best course of action.

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Mukherjea M, Mukherjee P, Biswas R. Long-term contraception with Depo-Provera: a clinical evaluation. Int J Fertil. 1980;25(2):122-6. PMID: 6117526. Available from:


Bishop GB. Vaginal Discharge. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd ed. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 172. PMID: 21250124. Available from: