At TheHealthBoard, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Vaginal discharge is a completely natural and normal occurrence, but when it increases, it may be alarming to some women. Many times, such as when estrogen levels fluctuate, this is normal. Other times, increased vaginal discharge can indicate a medical problem. Certain infections and diseases, for example, can cause an increase in the amount of vaginal secretions.
One common reason for increased vaginal discharge is the normal hormone fluctuations that a woman experiences during her menstrual cycle. When estrogen levels rise, cervical glands are stimulated to create more mucus. This usually occurs during ovulation and a couple days before a woman's period. This extra mucus helps sperm travel to the uterus to fertilize the egg.
Vaginal discharge will also usually increase naturally during pregnancy. This also occurs because of a spike in estrogen levels. More estrogen is needed during pregnancy than any other time.
Certain infections also cause increased vaginal discharge. In these cases, the excess discharge is a sign of a bigger problem, and it may be an odd color or have a foul smell.
Sexually transmitted diseases also may cause abnormal discharge from the vagina. Chlamydia and gonorrhea, for instance, may produce a yellow vaginal discharge. This discharge may also have a foul odor and be accompanied by itching.
A yeast infection can also account for increased vaginal discharge. This discharge is usually thick and white. Many medical professionals describe it as being similar to cottage cheese. It may also smell bad and the area may itch.
Bacterial vaginosis refers to an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. This imbalance can be caused by douching or having multiple sexual partners. Excess vaginal discharge caused by this condition may be gray and have a strong fishy odor. It can also cause burning and itching.
Some tumors can also cause increased vaginal discharge. Cervical tumors will often cause the cervical glands to produce excess mucus. This mucus is usually white, with a creamy texture. Excess discharge caused by these growths usually does not have a strong smell.