This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
What Is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is a mixture of fluid and cells from the vagina. Vaginal discharge varies in color, texture, appearance, and odor depending on certain factors like birth control. Healthy vaginal discharge is acidic, thick, mucus-like, and appears white or clear with a slight smell that is not offensive. Sometimes, normal discharge can look yellowish. The amount of discharge varies between women based on birth control, medication, menstruation, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, diet, and douching. According to research, within a 24-hour time frame, most women will have 1 to 4 ml of vaginal discharge. It is normal to have less or more than 1-4 ml of discharge in a day based on the changes listed above.
|Type of Vaginal Discharge||Symptoms||Causes|
|Gray, yellow, or white with a fishy odor||Redness, swelling of the vulva or vagina, and burning or itching genitals.||Bacterial vaginosis|
|Cheesy, white, & thick||Thick, cottage-cheese texture, genital itching, painful sexual intercourse, swelling, and pain around the vulva.||Yeast infection|
|Frothy, green, yellow with an offensive stench||Foul smell, painful urination, and genital itching.||Trichomoniasis|
|Cloudy, yellow, or slightly green||Pelvic pain, painful or burning urination, heavier periods, bleeding between periods, painful sexual intercourse, and urinary incontinence.||Gonorrhea|
|Bloody or brown||Red or brown discharge, bloody discharge (not period blood)||Irregular menstrual cycles (the most common cause), pregnancy, cervical or endometrial cancer (the least common cause).|
|Clear and watery||Normal||Normal|
|Clear and stretchy||Normal||Ovulation|
What Causes Abnormal Discharge?
Dr. Barb explains that abnormal discharge is caused by pH balance changes, this leads to bad bacteria having the perfect environment to survive. When this occurs, the normal appearance and smell of the discharge are altered.
Many things can offset one’s pH balance. We have mentioned cervical cancer, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, irregular menstrual cycles, and vaginal childbirth. But other things can cause abnormal vaginal discharge, including chlamydia, douching, birth control pills, perfumed soap, vaginitis, diabetes, hydration, pelvic inflammatory diseases, pelvic infection, and vaginal atrophy.