Many women notice discharges from their vaginas and wonder if they should do nothing, call their family doctors, or head to the emergency room. While it is perfectly normal to be concerned, these discharges are frequently no cause for alarm. Understanding the different types of vaginal discharge can help you be more informed about your health.
What Is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge consists of fluids put out by the cervical and vaginal glands. A woman’s body is continually putting out some discharge, which helps rid the body of potential infection-causing substances. Normal discharge in women who still have their cycle varies by the time of the month.
There is no discharge for the first two or three days after each period ends. Then, there may be a thick white discharge. In some months, the woman may notice a mucus-like discharge. Right before ovulation, it becomes clear again before turning white and thick right before the next period begins.
If the woman is pregnant, then normal discharge is usually white and may have a milky odor. Even women who are postmenopausal or had their ovaries removed may still notice discharge. Additionally, types of vaginal discharge can change based on arousal and emotional health.
How Much Vaginal Discharge Is Normal?
Most women produce about 4 millimeters of vaginal discharge daily. This discharge is usually clear or white and can be almost any consistency from watery to thick.
Why Do Women Have Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge serves a beneficial purpose in the body. The body uses it as a way to keep its pH balance in check. The discharge moves infections, dirt, and grime out of the body before a woman gets sick.
Vaginal discharge is necessary to help keep the vagina moist and healthy. Without it, the body can get sick, and sexual intercourse can be very painful.
Thick White Discharge
Vaginal discharge colors can hold important clues about what is going on with a woman’s health. A thick white discharge, particularly at the end of a menstrual cycle, can be a sign that the woman has a vaginal yeast infection. This can be particularly true if the woman feels a burning sensation or a vaginal itch at the same time. She should compare this discharge to the standard white discharge that is usually not a thick discharge that may occur most months.
A thick white discharge is called leukorrhea, and it is entirely normal if there is no vaginal burning or vaginal itching. It more commonly occurs after the body releases the egg than before.
Brown Discharge Fishy Smell
Women may also experience a brown discharge with a fishy smell. Some women can have a brown discharge at the end of their cycle or even a few days later as the body gets rid of cells. Women who have unprotected sex may have brown discharge, often called spotting, after intercourse, and at other times, it may indicate a miscarriage.
If the brown discharge has a fishy smell, it can be a sign of cervical or endometrial cancer. It may also mean an abnormal growth in the fibroids. Be sure to consult with your medical provider if you have this type of discharge.
Clear Watery Discharge
A clear watery discharge is usually nothing to worry about, so women can go on with their usual routines. Even a discharge that is clear and stretchy is generally of no concern. Many women have this type of discharge, especially when they are exercising. This discharge simply indicates that the woman’s body is working correctly. A stretchy discharge often occurs when ovulating. It is not unusual to have up to 30 times more discharge before ovulation than after ovulation.
Milky White Discharge With Strong Odor
A monthly milky white discharge is a normal part of many women’s lives. It is a sign that the woman is getting ready to ovulate. Some women have successfully used this as a sign for when they are prepared to have sex if they want to become pregnant. The discharge helps form a mucus plug in the cervix.
A thick, milky-white discharge tinged with gray and often producing a strong odor can be a sign of a problem. This type of vaginal discharge is often a sign of bacterial vaginosis. Up to 75% of women with bacterial vaginosis experience no symptoms.
An excessive number of harmful bacteria in the vagina can cause this type of vaginal discharge. It is usually easily treated with antibiotics. You must get it checked out with your medical provider, especially if you are pregnant because it can lead to babies with low birth weight and premature deliveries. Women who are suffering from bacterial vaginosis are more likely to get sexually transmitted diseases.
If a woman has a green discharge, especially one that is not watery, it can be a sign of an infection. In this case, the woman should consult her doctor, who may want to do further testing to determine the cause.
Many women experience some pinkish-red discharge before or after their periods, and this is normal. Women getting a pink discharge that is not near a period should be checked out unless they have just had sexual intercourse. This discharge usually means that minor tearing has occurred in those cases, and these tears naturally heal on their own. Some women may spot up to a week before or after their period, and this may be normal for their bodies.
A yellow discharge can be problematic or no big deal. Some yellow discharges indicate a sexually transmitted disease, so you may need to get it checked out. Other yellow discharges can be a sign of an infection, so you should also get tested if you experience this. Usually, if there is a problem, you will experience other symptoms.
What Are Some Factors That Can Affect Vaginal Discharge Colors?
Many different factors can affect vaginal discharge. Younger women tend to have more discharge than older women. The medications you are taking, including supplements and vitamins, can have an impact. Pregnancy can affect vaginal discharge. Some health issues, like diabetes, can affect vaginal discharge.
The different vaginal discharge types can be typical, or they can indicate a problem that is often easily fixed. This vaginal discharge types guide should help you determine if your body is acting as intended or if the discharge colors indicate that you should see your healthcare provider. Usually, if there is an issue, there will be other signs present, which may include painful urination, intense itching, and strong odors. Women who are pregnant or those with multiple sexual partners must get examined if they suspect there is an issue. For pregnant women, it can indicate a problem that may cause birthing complications.
If you have further questions or looking for a Broward vaginal rejuvenation expert, then contact your medical provider. If you do not have one, please reach out to Dr. Krinsky.