We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Vaginal Discharge?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Vaginal discharge is a fluid which comes out of the vagina. Some discharge is very normal and healthy, but changes in the character of the discharge can indicate that a woman is experiencing a health problem. Learning to recognize the difference between normal and abnormal discharges is important, as the sooner women receive treatment for a medical problem, the better the prognosis will be.

Glands which line the vagina regularly produce a fluid which is designed to carry away dead cells, lubricate the vagina, and prevent infection. This fluid tends to be clear to milky in color, and it can vary from being very thin and watery to thicker and more elastic in texture. The menstrual cycle has a major effect on vaginal discharge, with women producing more of this fluid when they are ovulating, and the amount can also vary in response to stress, age, and other factors.

If the discharge acquires a strange color or a bad smell, it is a sign the normal balance of vaginal fauna has been disrupted. Green, yellow, and brownish discharges are generally a sign of ill health, as are strong smelling discharges, or discharges which clump with a classic cottage cheese-like appearance. If a strange discharge is accompanied by itching or burning around the vaginal area, it usually means that a woman has an infection.

One of the common causes for an abnormal vaginal discharge is a yeast infection, caused by colonization with candida yeast. Women can also develop bacterial vaginosis, an infection associated with bacterial colonization in the vagina. Both of these conditions can happen to women of all ages, including women who are not sexually active, and some women appear to be more prone than others.

Sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis can also cause abnormal vaginal discharges. In these cases, the woman will need to notify sex partners about the diagnosis so that they can be tested and receive treatment, if necessary. Women who feel awkward about discussing such issues can take advantage of anonymous notification services offered by many public health departments to notify their partners without revealing their identity.

Many women grow accustomed to their normal cycle of vaginal discharges over time. If a change is noted, an appointment should be made with a doctor to address the issue. This will prevent the spread of infection if an STI is causing the abnormal discharge, and it will also ensure that a woman gets treatment quickly so that she does not have to endure discomfort any longer than necessary.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By lighth0se33 — On Aug 08, 2012

A few years ago, I had a vaginal discharge with odor that was extreme. It smelled a lot like tuna, and I was afraid that people around me might be able to smell it, too.

I had vaginal itching and burning, as well. I had even experienced a couple of painful cramps down there, and I decided that I needed to see my doctor.

I figured she would say that I had a yeast infection, but instead, she told me I had bacterial vaginosis. She gave me some medicine and the problem cleared up in no time.

By wavy58 — On Aug 07, 2012

Though it's usually clear, I have had brown vaginal discharge between periods before. It scared me at first, because I knew that the time for my period was still two weeks away.

I had heard that brown discharge can indicate pregnancy, but that turned out not to be the case with me. I just had light spotting for one day, and then it went away.

I still don't know what caused it. I'm guessing it wasn't anything bad, because I never felt sick.

By Kristee — On Aug 07, 2012

@healthy4life – It sounds like you have a yeast infection. I used to get those all the time, and I always had extreme vaginal itching and lumpy discharge.

There are over-the-counter medications that come with an applicator so that you can insert them, so you can try these. They never worked well for me, but I have several friends who have had success with them.

In the future, you can prevent yeast infections by eating a serving or two of yogurt every day. The live cultures in yogurt fight off the yeast.

By healthy4life — On Aug 06, 2012

I have been having a clumpy white vaginal discharge lately. Also, the area has begun to itch a lot.

I have an appointment for my yearly exam in a month, and I was hoping to wait until then to go to the doctor. However, the itching recently got worse, and I feel itchy up inside where I can't scratch.

Does anyone know what could be wrong with me? Is there anything I can do to treat it before I see the doctor?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.