Vaginal Discharge

A fluid that helps to keep the vagina clean and infection free, vaginal discharge is completely natural. But its colour, texture and quantity may vary depending on your age and the time of your period.

However, some changes may be a sign of an underlying health condition. These may include significant color or odor changes as well as differences in consistency.

From types and causes to when it's best to seek medical attention, here's what you know about vaginal discharge.

Types Of Vaginal Discharge

Many types of vaginal discharge exist - often classified by color and consistency.


White discharge is common, especially at the beginning or end of your period. Usually, this discharge is thick and viscous, with no strong odor.

Clear And Watery

Around ovulation, the discharge often becomes clear and wet. You may also notice more such discharge when you are sexually aroused or pregnant.

Clear And Stretchy

When the discharge is clear, but stretchy and mucousy instead of watery, it indicates that you are ovulating.

Brown Or Bloody

You may have brown or bloody discharge during or just after your period. You may also experience a small amount of bloody discharge between periods. This is called spotting.

Spotting during the normal time of your period and after recent sex without any barriers or other protection can be a sign of pregnancy. And spotting during early pregnancy can be a sign of miscarriage.

Yellow Or Green

Yellow-ish discharge may not indicate a health condition because it can naturally turn this color when exposed to air.

But dark yellow or green discharge -- especially when it's thick, chunky or accompanied by an unpleasant odor -- This is a sign to see to a doctor.

Causes Of Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge is a healthy physiological function that results from natural changes in estrogen levels. Ovulation, sexual arousal, the likes of birth control pills and pregnancy can increase the amount of discharge.

Changes in the bacterial balance of the vagina can adversely affect the colour, odor and texture of vaginal discharge. This is because when the number of harmful bacteria increases, the chances of getting a vaginal infection are high.

Here are some of the possible infections to be aware of.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is a common bacterial infection. This causes an increase in vaginal discharge that has a strong, foul-smelling and sometimes fishy odor. The discharge may look gray, thin and watery. In some cases, the infection does not cause any symptoms.

Although bacterial vaginosis is not transmitted through sexual contact, you have a higher risk of developing it if you are sexually active or have recently gained a new sexual partner. The infection can also put you at a higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).


Trichomoniasis is another type of infection caused by a parasite. It is usually spread by sexual contact, but can also be contracted by sharing towels or bathing suits.

Up to half of those affected have no symptoms. People who do this will often notice yellow, green or foamy discharge with an unpleasant odor. Pain, swelling and itching around the vagina as well as when urinating or having sex are common symptoms.

Yeast Infection

Yeast infection occurs when there is an increased growth of yeast in the vagina. This produces a thick and white discharge that looks similar to cottage cheese. This discharge usually does not smell.

Other symptoms include burning, itching and other irritation around the vagina as well as pain during sex or when urinating.

The following c an increase your likelihood of yeast infections:

  • stress
  • diabetes
  • use of birth control pills
  • pregnancy
  • antibiotics, especially prolonged use over 10 days

Gonorrhea And Chlamydia

Gonorrhea and chlamydia are STIs that can cause abnormal discharge to be caused by infecting the cervix. It is often yellow, green, or cloudy in color.

You may also experience:

  • pain when urinating
  • stomach pain
  • bleeding after penetrative vaginal sex
  • bleeding between periods
  • But some people may have zero symptoms.

Genital Herpes

This STI can cause a thick vaginal discharge with a pungent odor, especially after sex. Sores and blisters may appear around the genitals along with bleeding between periods and burning when urinating.

However, it is more common to have no or mild symptoms. If symptoms do occur, you may experience repeated outbreaks throughout your life.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Heavy, foul-smelling discharge and abdominal pain after sex, or while menstruating or urinating can be symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease.

This occurs when bacteria move into the vagina and to other reproductive organs and can be caused by STIs that are left untreated, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Human Papillomavirus Or Cervical Cancer

Human papillomavirus infection is spread by sexual contact and can cause cervical cancer. Although there may be no symptoms, this type of cancer can result in:

  • bloody, brown, or watery discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • unusual bleeding occurring between periods or after sex
  • pain while urinating or an increased urge to urinate
In rare cases, brown or bloody discharge can also be a sign of endometrial cancer, fibroids, or other growths.

When To See A Doctor

If you are ever concerned about your vaginal discharge, speak to a physician as soon as possible. This is especially true if your discharge changes color, odor, or consistency or if you are noticing it more than usual.

Other Symptoms To Watch Out For Include:

  • irritation around the vagina
  • bleeding between periods, after penetrative vaginal sex, or after menopause
  • pain when urinating
  • fever
  • pain in the abdomen or during penetrative vaginal sex
  • unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue
  • increased urination

What To Expect At A Healthcare Appointment

When you see a health care professional, they will likely do a physical examination, including a pelvic exam. The doctor will also ask a number of questions about your symptoms, menstrual cycle, and general lifestyle. In many cases, infection can be detected by a physical or pelvic exam.

If a health care professional is unable to diagnose the problem immediately, they may swab your vagina to take a sample of the discharge and examine it under a microscope or send it to a laboratory for further testing. can send. They may also want to take a scraping from your cervix to check for human papillomavirus or cervical cancer.

Once the doctor determines the cause of the discharge, you will be given treatment options. These can range from a short course of antibiotics to surgery in rare cases.

Home Care For Vaginal Discharge

Since vaginal discharge is natural, it is not possible to stop it. But you can take measures to reduce your chances of infection.

Wash gently with water around your vagina, avoiding scented products and douches that can cause irritation. Drying the area thoroughly and wearing breathable cotton underwear can also help.

Additionally, consider using a condom or other barrier method during sexual activity and thoroughly cleaning sex toys to reduce your risk of sexually transmitted diseases. And if you have a period, try changing your choice of tampons and pads frequently.

The bottom Line

Keeping an eye on your vaginal discharge can help you track what’s typical for your body and notice changes as quickly as possible.

Anything out of the ordinary is a sign to talk with a healthcare professional. Remember that the quicker most infections are diagnosed and treated, the less chance there is of long-term complications.  

Always Keep eye on your vaginal discharge which can help you to out what's typical for your body and notice the changes as soon as possible.

Anything unusual is a sign to speak with a doctor. Remember that the sooner most infections are diagnosed and treated, the lower the chance of long-term complications.

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