Vaginal discharge is a fluid that supports maintaining a healthy, infection-free vagina. However, based on your age and the stage of your menstrual cycle, it can vary in colour, texture, and quantity. The presence of a hidden medical problem, however, can be indicated by some alterations. A difference in consistency as well as major colour or odour alterations can be among them. Here’s a look on the different types of vaginal discharge and its causes.
Types of vaginal discharge
White discharge is common, particularly at the start or end of your menstrual cycle. This discharge is typically thick and sticky, with no discernible odour.
- Stretchy and clear
When your discharge is clear but stretchy and mucous-like rather than watery, it means you’re ovulating.
- Brown or bloody
Brown or bloody discharge can occur during or immediately following your menstrual cycle. A small amount of bloody discharge may also occur between periods. This is known as spotting.
Spotting that occurs during your period and after recent sex without a barrier or other protection may indicate pregnancy. Spotting during early pregnancy can also be an indication of a miscarriage.
- Watery and clear
Discharge often becomes clearer and wetter around ovulation. When you’re sexually aroused or pregnant, you may notice more discharge like this.
- Green or yellow
Yellow-ish discharge may not be indicative of a medical problem because it can naturally turn this colour when exposed to air. However, darker yellow or green discharge, especially if thick, chunky, or accompanied by an unpleasant odour, should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Causes of vaginal discharge
The majority of reasons for irregular vaginal discharge, like yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or menopause symptoms, are often safe but irritating.
Additionally, some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may also exhibit abnormal vaginal discharge as a symptom. The early detection and treatment of STIs are crucial since they can spread to affect the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes as well as be transmitted to sexual partners.
Only very rarely could a brownish or blood-tinged vaginal discharge indicate cervical cancer. Among the potential reasons for atypical vaginal discharge are:
Causes related to infection or inflammation
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Chlamydia trachomatis
- Forgotten (retained) tampon
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Yeast infection (vaginal)
- A few hygienic habits, such douching or using scented soaps or sprays
- Cervical cancer
- Vaginal atrophy (genitourinary syndrome of menopause)
- Vaginal cancer
- Vaginal fistula
- Vaginal discharge is rarely an indication of cancer.
When to visit a doctor?
Speak with a professional right away if you’ve ever been concerned about your vaginal discharge. This is especially if you notice more discharge than normal or if the colour, smell, or substance of your discharge changes. Some other symptoms to watch out for could include:
- irritation around the vagina
- bleeding after menopause, after penetrative vaginal sex, or in between periods
- pain when urinating
- abdominal pain or pain during penetrative vaginal sex
- unusual weight loss
- frequent urination
Vaginal discharge is frequently normal, but there are times when its colour, volume, or consistency may point to an issue. However, if you feel anything different about your vaginal discharge, make sure to visit your doctor.