Vaginal Discharge: What is Discharge & What Does it Mean?

“Vaginal discharge is usually a normal, regular occurrence. However, there are certain types of discharge which can indicate an infection. Abnormal discharge may be yellow or green, chunky in consistency, or foul smelling. There are several different types of vaginal discharge – these are categorized based on their colour & consistency. Some types of are normal, whereas others may indicate an underlying condition that requires treatment” [1]

The Different Types of Vaginal Discharge

“Yeast or a bacterial infection usually causes abnormal discharge. If you notice any discharge that looks unusual, or smells foul, see your Vulva Specialist for diagnosis & treatment” [1]

Clear & Watery Discharge

You shouldn’t be alarmed at having this type of discharge, as it’s quite normal. It can come about at any time during the month, and can be particularly heavy after you have exercised [1].

White Discharge

It is normal to experience a little bit of white discharge, especially at the start or end of your menstrual cycle. However, it is not normal to have a discharge which produces a thick, cottage cheese-type of appearance or consistency. If this is the case, then you should make an appointment with a Vulva Specialist, who can determine whether this is a sign of a yeast infection, which will need to be treated [1].

Clear & Stretchy Discharge

If your discharge is clear, but mucous-like and stretchy – as opposed to watery, then this is probably a sign that you are ovulating. Therefore, this type of discharge is normal [1].

Yellow or Green Discharge

It is not normal to have this type of discharge, particularly if it is chunky, thick, or gives off an unpleasant smell. This form of discharge could signal trichomoniasis, an infection which is easily spread via sexual intercourse, and could be acquired from sharing towels or swimsuits. Itching, inflammation and pain are also common symptoms, although not everyone has them [1].

Brown or Bloody Discharge

Generally speaking, it is normal to experience a bloody or brown discharge, particularly if it happens during, or just after, your menstrual cycle. – A late discharge (at the time your period finishes), can be brown rather than red [1].

Bacterial Vaginosis

“Women who receive oral sex or who have multiple sexual partners have an increased risk of acquiring this infection” [1]

This type of infection is quite common. It generates increased vaginal discharge that emits a foul, strong, and in some instances, a fishy odour – although symptoms are not apparent in everyone [1].

Signs of Cervical or Endometrial Cancer

In rare instances, brown or bloody discharge can be a sign of cervical or endometrial cancer. Furthermore, such discharges could indicate other issues such as fibroids, or other types of abnormal growths [1]. And this is why booking an appointment with a Vulva Specialist is so important.


[1]. Ellis. M.E. (2020). “Everything You Need to Know About Vaginal Discharge.”
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