Is my vaginal discharge normal?

17 December 2020

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Woman looking at vaginal discharge

Every woman has vaginal discharge. Healthy discharge is not only completely normal, but also necessary. And, if you’re wondering why you have so much vaginal discharge, you may be surprised to know that most women produce about a half to one teaspoon of vaginal discharge every day.

Healthy clear or white vaginal discharge carries away bacteria to keep your vagina clean, lubricated and protected. Vaginal discharge may change in pregnancy or over your menstrual cycle. For example, your vaginal discharge may smell different just after your period.

Some types, like yellow vaginal discharge, can be a sign that something is wrong. A vaginal infection will alter the look and smell of your discharge. Here’s the rundown on what’s normal, what’s not, plus what to do if you’re at all concerned.

What does white or clear vaginal discharge mean?

The colour of normal vaginal discharge is clear or white. Healthy discharge can feel thick and sticky or wet and stretchy. What’s normal varies between people, over time and in different situations. You’ve probably noticed your discharge changing slightly depending on your time of the month.

Discharge gets clearer, wetter and stretchier around the time you ovulate usually a couple of weeks before your period starts. It can also look and feel different if you’re pregnant, when you’re aroused or if you’re taking the pill or other hormonal contraceptives. You may produce more discharge too at these times. As you approach menopause, and your levels of the hormone oestrogen fall, you may find you may have less discharge. You may produce less when you’re breastfeeding too.

What does greyish vaginal discharge mean?

If you have thin, greyish white discharge that smells fishy, but you don’t feel itchy or sore, you may have bacterial vaginosis. This is the most common vaginal infection. It isn’t a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but can be brought on by having sex which then changes the balance of bacteria in your vagina. The same thing also often happens when you’ve used too much soap or other products on your vagina. Spermicide can sometimes upset your vagina’s natural balance too.

What does thick, lumpy white discharge mean?

White discharge that doesn’t smell but has the texture of curds or cottage cheese is a sign of thrush (candidiasis), which is sometimes called a yeast infection. Your vulva or genital area may also be itchy or sore. This is another problem that happens because the natural balance of your vagina is disturbed.

What is yellow vaginal discharge a sign of?

Fishy-smelling, yellowy green frothy discharge could be a sign of trichomoniasis, which is an STI. You may also be itchy, sore and in pain when you wee. You may produce more vaginal discharge than usual, and you may be swollen around your vagina. Your inner thighs can also be itchy.

What does brown vaginal discharge mean?

Rusty brown vaginal discharge is most likely to happen at the beginning and end of your period. This is nothing to worry about, it’s just normal blood that has taken a little longer to come out.

You may get some rusty brown blood spotting too if you’re just started the pill or another contraceptive that affects your hormones, but this should only be temporary. If you’re at all worried about spotting, do see your doctor.

What does bleeding between periods mean?

If you have abnormal bleeding (bleeding in between periods or after sex) you may have cervicitis, which is an inflammation of the cervix. Cervicitis can make weeing or sex painful too. Abnormal bleeding and deep pain in your lower tummy could be pelvic inflammatory disease. Both these conditions can be caused by the STI chlamydia or occasionally gonorrhea.

What else can cause smelly vaginal discharge?

Abnormal discharge can also be caused by your body reacting to something you’ve left inside, like a forgotten tampon or condom. A forgotten condom will also make your discharge smell bad because of all the unhealthy bacteria.

What can I do if I'm worried about my vaginal discharge?

Visit our clinics to get a consultation with a non-judgmental and supportive provider. We’ll establish the issue and find the right treatment plan for you.

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