Vaginal discharge – do I have to worry?

Li KunMany women are confused when it comes to vaginal discharge.

However, often this isn’t a topic you would openly discuss with your friends or even your doctor.

You may have questions such as “ Is it normal discharge? Why does my discharge always vary in amount and colour? Should I see a doctor? When should I be worried?”. These are perfectly common and normal questions to ask as vaginal discharge varies from individual and they can be quite confusing.

Usually there is really nothing to worry about unless your vaginal discharge is associated with itching, pain or bad smell. Having vaginal discharge is normal in all women. But of course, it will be helpful to know what normal discharge is or looks like.

Click here for our New Article on Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal Environment

Before proceeding any farther, let us realize that a normal healthy vagina is never free from a type of bacteria known as ‘lactobacillus’. When balanced in amount, it is a ‘friend’ and ‘protector’ of the vagina. Its role is to protect the vagina from infection by releasing certain proteins and maintaining a vaginal pH of 4.5. Once the bacterial count decreases, vaginal pH changes and various infections of the vagina can occur. Green, yellow, gray and white, thick, cottage-cheese like discharge, usually with odor, itching and pain are signs of infection.

normal discharge

Normal and ovulation discharge

Clear, whitish, thin or thick odorless discharge are usually normal and shoudn’t be alarming. It can happen at any time during your menstrual cycle. This discharges means your reproductive organs are ‘cleansing’ the vagina and cervix, getting rid of dead cells and bacteria which is being transported by these discharges.

Somewhere around the 14th day of your cycle (i.e when an egg is released from your ovary -termed ovulation), you may notice clear colourless and elastic discharge resembling egg white. It is usually much more in amount than your usual vaginal discharge. This is a good sign for those who are trying to concieve as this when you are most fertile.

Sometimes, white and more watery discharge can be found after heavy physical activities, when you are sexually excited or sometimes when you feel extremely tired.

Common causes are Infections, Hormonal Imbalance, Vaginal Environments Changes and maybe it’s just Normal Discharge!

 

Menses discharge

Besides having bright red blood discharge during menses, you can also have dark brown discharge which usually occurs towards the end of your menstruation or 1-2 days after menstruation.  This is the leftover menstrual blood in the vagina which was not completely cleared. It is brown as dead blood cells turn brown. Sometimes, this dark brown discharge can also be seen during your mid cycle when ovulation occurs and is normal.

2

Infections

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Bacterial vaginosis (vaginal infection caused by bacteria) is one of the most common causes of gray, foul fishy-smelling vaginal discharge. Redness of the vulva, itching and burning sensation during intercourse may accompany. Green, thick fishy-smelling discharges are commonly caused by gardnerella infections.

Gonorrheal infections are manifested by cloudy yellow discharge often accompanied by pelvic pain and frequent urination.

Trichomoniasis (a parasitic infection) gives yellowish frothy discharge with bad odor. This is usually transmitted through unprotected sex. These infections are commonly treated with over-the-counter antibiotics, most effective one being metronidazole in forms of tablets, vaginal gel/creams and suppositories.

White, cottage-cheese-like discharge often accompanied by itching is due to yeast infection known as candidiasis.

Other type of infections that you could get which could cause abnormal vaginal discharge includes chlamydia, ureaplasma and mycoplasma.

Click here for Info on STD Symptoms in Women

If you are pregnant, consult a doctor before taking any medications. Pay attention to your personal hygiene. Changing your panty liners frequently, keeping your feminine area cool and dry by avoiding tight clothing and linen panties may help prevent from such infections.

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Lifestyle

We must not overlook some other simple facts that may lead to changes in normal conditions of vagina. Decreased bacterial count and an increased vaginal pH more than 4.5 are the main culprits causing infection. You may not notice that using fragrant soaps, vaginal douching and frequent bubbly baths may be some of the causes. For those who are sexually active, sticking to one partner is the best prevention, as STDs are often associated with such infections. Pregnancy and menopause may sometimes lead to imbalanced vaginal conditions due to hormonal changes. It is then best to maintain a good personal hygiene.

Although less frequently red discharge or spotting is a more serious case. When this is noted, question yourself: Have you had any unprotected intercourse recently? If yes, this may be a sign of pregnancy and you might want to do a pregnancy test. Spotting during early pregnancy may mean miscarriages or threatened abortion. Some other reasons are vaginal tear and lacerations during rough intercourse, and, if you are more than 40, it may be due to cancers. This is the time when you should be worried and tell your doctor.

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Related topics.More on vaginal discharge.Vaginal bleeding.Candida (Yeast/vaginal thrush)Bacterial vaginosisTrichomoniasisChlamydiaGonorrhoeaIf you have any questions, visit our free online forum on sexual health, HIV and STDs.Dr (Ms) De SouzaMD (Russia), MMed (Obs&Gyn)

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1,994 Comments

  1. Hi Dr.
    I am suppose to be getting my period in four days to come but something strange is happening that never happen before .Am seeing clear sticky discharge with the little blood on it.Is it normal as my partner and i we are trying for a baby and i spoke to our Gp and puts me on Doxytet

    • The commonest cause of a delayed period is pregnancy. I do hope you are pregnant. If you are then a bit of bleeding is technically called a threatened abortion. You should get an ultrasound done to confirm the pregnancy.

  2. Hi doc,

    currently im having thick light yellow green discharge and my vagina is so itchy specially at night when im about to sleep. Im 27 yrs old , sexually active with my partner only.
    Is this infection?

    • drtan

      It most likely is. Please bear in mind that saying it is an infection does not mean it is an STD. See a doctor to get diagnosed and treated. You are welcome to visit our Women’s Health Center @ Bencoolen. Click HERE for location info.

  3. Eriny

    I’ve had years of thrush and BV infections and treatments.
    Now I constantly have a odourless watery brown cottage cheese like discharge. Sex is extremely painful and I constantly feel irritated vaginally.
    Was diagnosed with CIN1 years ago, but recent colposcopy was clear.
    Don’t seem to be able to get any solutions…
    Can you assist?

    • Hi Eriny,
      Your discharge and vaginal discomfort definitely don’t sound normal. Perhaps you’d like to come into clinic so we can do a proper examination and some investigations for this? Do bring in all your previous test reports as well, if you have them. Our women’s center is located at 180 Bencoolen Street, and can be reached at 68844119.

      • Eriny

        Thank you Dr, but I live abroad. Is there anything you can advise I should ask my doctor to test me for?
        Kind regards

  4. Hi Dr. I’ve been having intense itchiness at my vulva for the past few months but I noticed that it will get worse towards the end of my menses. Other times, there’ll be yellow-greenish discharge with unpleasant smell but I’m not sure whether it is due to my lifestyle since I sweat excessively. And I’m still a virgin

    • drtan

      It certainly sounds like you have some kind of infection. Since you have never been sexually active it is unlikely to be an STI. You should still see your doctor to get some tests done so that you know what is causing the infection and what you need to do to treat it.

  5. Hi. I’m in secondary 1 and I have not started on my menstruation or puberty, but i have discharges that stain my underwear greenish yellow and it smells. i am not sure when it started but I remember having this since i was 7. It is not itchy and it is not pain when i urinate. So what is this greenish yellow discharge with odour I am having now?

    • It is probably due to some sort of imbalance in the environment of your vagina. Pay attention to the soap that you are using and the clothes you are wearing. Try to use only feminine friendly cleansers and wear only 100% cotton underwear. Try to eat more good bacteria like that found in yoghurt. If the discharge persists, please tell your mother or an adult lady you trust.

  6. Marisol

    My underwear always get stains like yellow brownish discharge is that normal I been wearing pass to not stain my underwear anymore but is that normal? Yellow and brown almost like dirt

  7. Bennett

    Hello Doctor. My friend woke me up this morning ands aid she was concerned she found some white almost clear discharge along with what looked like fresh blood. She’s worried because she doesn’t know what it means any ideas?

  8. Hi, I had my period on 21st Feb. On the 7th of March, there is light blood streaked with vaginal discharge which only be seen in one wiped. After that, the discharge is totally normal. Then a day after, the blood streaked with discharge comes again, and now the discharge is turning light brownish with very light blood streak. May I know what happened to me? I never experienced this kind of situation. My periods are sometimes regular (32 days), sometimes irregular (52 days). Any advice?

    • That occurred right in the middle of your cycle. So it could be an ovulatory bleed. Obviously, there are many other possible causes of mid cycle bleeding from polyps to cancers. You should still see your doctor to find out what the actual cause it.

  9. hey iv been experiencing yellow watery discharge oderless and no pains what so ever what could it be

    • Hi nare,

      Some vaginal discharge can be normal for ladies. However, if there has been a change in the colour, or volume of your discharge, this may indicate an infection. To be sure, you will need a doctor to perform a vaginal examination, and possibly some swab tests.
      Do come by clinic if you’d like to have this checked out.

      Yours, Dr Rachel Ng

  10. I started seeing light blood almost 2 weeks after my period and I’ve been bleeding all week and today it’s much heavier, I have soaked an entire panty liner.. went to the ER and theyEr diagnosed me with a uti . Is this normal for a uti??

    • Hi Lu lu,

      Heavy bleeding is not usually a symptom of a UTI.
      Abnormal vaginal bleeding has many causes, including vaginal infection, cancer and missed pregnancy.
      I would suggest you come to clinic to have this properly evaluated.

      Yours, Dr Rachel Ng

  11. Hi doctor,
    I hope you doing well, last three months periods blood came like jelly..usually it’s like liquid..but now it’s big jelly. Please help me.

    • Hi Pravy,
      I’m not sure I fully understand the problem. By “jelly”, do you mean that your bleeding is particularly heavy over the last few months, with clots?

  12. For the past two weeks, my vagina has been red, swollen, itchy, in pain, and uncomfortable. For about 5 days now, I’ve had this unusual discharge. It first started out extremely clumpy and a tiny bit bloddy. Now it is extremely milky, a little sticky, and is between an off white and white color with blood. Also, my clitoris is swollen and it seems to have a few white spots on it, almost as if there we’re left over toilet paper on it. I’m not sure as to what should be done. This has never happened to me before.

    • Hi Kayla,
      Your symptoms sound suggestive of an infection.
      A vaginal examination needs to be done, along with some swab tests. After that, treatment can be initiated.
      Feel free to come by our clinics for further evaluation.

      Yours, Dr Rachel Ng

  13. Marie jones

    Since last Friday I’ve been having a brownish / pinkish discharge it seemed like a light period because it’ll drip when I pee but then it stops and comes out when it wants too

  14. hi I haven’t have my period for 2 month know and I am drinking out

    I think I am pregnant.
    But the others night I saw when I check my underwear there was Browen and yelow ich in my underwear’ I am not sure if I am pregnant or not
    Any hellp ?

    • The easiest thing you can do is to get a home urine pregnancy test done. Your symptoms i.e. missed period for 2 months, discharge – are all certainly possible symptoms of pregnancy.

  15. Hi there, about 2 month ago, 2 weeks after my period, I started having a yellowish- brown discharge. I had told my mother about it and she had said that it could be that I’ve hurt my back due to picking up heavy loads. She advised me to rest, have eggs everyday and massage my back, which I did and after about a week the discharge stopped. Recently it started again, but this time I don’t remember picking up any heavy things and the discharge, this time again, has started 2 weeks after my period had finished. I’m only 18, really confused and worried about what’s going on.

  16. Hi, I keep having brown discharge and a little streaks of blood. I went to the GP and was given dicynone(to stop the blood). But after completing the medicine, it didnt stop. The doctor press my abdomen area and the doctor say he didn’t found anything uncommon. Any advice?

  17. I’ve consulted numerous doctors and they cannot seem to find the reason I’m having serious uterine pain, thin red to thick black bloody discharge with watery white chunks and a foul odor. STD, pregnancy, ultrasounds and thyroid tests all came back negative and normal. I don’t know what to do and it is only getting worse by the week and ruining my life as I’m always in pain and sick and tired. Can you please help me and tell me what your thoughts are about what this condition is?

  18. Hi Dr Sim,

    I went to visit a doctor today and the doctor says i might be having infection cause i keep having discharge and gave me Augmentin (anti biotics), will it work??

  19. Hi, I have been having black/dark brown discharge with little streaks of blood for almost a month time. Any advice on this?

    • Hi, you should see a doctor or feel free to visit us for this as ongoing black/brown discharge for almost a month can be due to a lot of reasons such as hormonal, infections and sometimes sinister causes like cancer.

      • Hi Dr Sim, how much will the consultation charges be? I am only 21 and my period is usually not regular. And today morning, there isn’t anymore brown/blacm discharge, it become blood. Not sure if it is period. Able to advice?

  20. Hi doctor’s,12 days after the first day of my period I noticed that my discharge is light pinkish. Just in the mornings. My husband and I have been sexually active. I have no pains, or feel any different. What could this be?

  21. Hi Doctor,
    I’m studying outside the US, and my husband came to visit me for few days. I noticed I was experiencing vaginal pain with certain positions but not all. After he left, I have very dull lower abdominal pain, small urine drops during the day. For the past 2 days, I have clear whitish odorless discharge (looks exactly like the 1st picture of normal discharge you have above). I experienced burning in urination for only one day and It’s gone. Somedays I have normal urination with few drops during the days, and somedays I feel it’s taking me a while to empty my bladder and increased urgency and frequency. I have been experiencing this for 1 week now. No fever or any other symptoms, and I take Tylenol for a cold. Never had sex with anyone but my husband and we were both clear of any STI, last tested 2yrs ago. I make sure to urinate right after intercourse. I forgot to mention I had a Brazilian waxing treatment at a local place right before his visit. Unfortunately no good clinics around here. Should I worry about a UTI? What would be the best thing to do until I get back next month? Or could this be normal due to not having intercourse for 6 month and then many times in few day? Or could I have contracted some infection from the waxing treatment?
    Thank you

    • This definitely sounds like a UTI. UTIs can get very bad if you do not treat them early. The infection can ascend into your kidneys. Try drinking lots of water (some people also recommend cranberry juice). But if the symptoms do not go away quickly, please see a doctor.

  22. Dear Dr,
    I have been having yellowish and sometimes greenish discharge that is slightly thick. I recently changed birth control pills. I do not have any abdominal pain or itching or pain during urination and the discharge is odourless. Could you please comment?

  23. Dear Dr,

    My cycle is due to come on in two days an now I’m having a clear mucus discharge with one day brown discharge in it and the next it was a very light pink then the day after there was nothing what could this be.

    • If could be just because you cycle is coming. Of it could be implantation bleed (pregnancy) or it could be a cervical pre-cancer. The symptoms are just too non-specific to make a conclusion. Please see your doctor. http://womens-health.sg/forums/

  24. I’ve been having this jelly like discharge for at most a week. I just stopped ovulating and it’s usually clear with light brown streaks in it that almost resemble blood clots that I see during my period. This is the first time I’ve ever seen this type of discharge it’s a thick gooey jelly like consistency. Should I be worried or is it just one of those things

  25. zara-marie

    Hi Doctor

    It’s been 3 months since i have had brown discharge after my periods. I went to the doctors for a sawb they said everything is fine down there.

    However I’m still experiencing brown discharge why is this?

    1) I’m not pregnant
    2) it doesn’t smell
    3) i have no pain what so ever

  26. Hi doctor good day! Is it normal to have a thick white discharge after sex for the first time? And how much would it cost if I want to test whether my discharge is normal or not?

    • Hi S, it may or may not be normal vaginal discharge. The only way to tell is to get tested. The cost of the vaginal swab tests ranges from $140 – $345. I would advice that you see a doctor to get further advice before deciding which type of tests may be suitable for you. Feel free to visit us at any of our clinics.

  27. I have been having clear jelly like discharge for the past 20 years. Recently I have started feeling pain and burning sensation in my vagina. Sex is unbearable as I experience lower abdominal pains during intercourse

  28. Its been 6 months since I’ve had protected sex and I have had irregular cycles, usually skipping months at a time. I’m 18 and I’ve been having clear-ish discharge that is either brown or has blood in it. It doesn’t hurt or have any pain, no cramps at all, I’m not pregnant of course. Help?

  29. Im so confused i been having s problem with yeast infection well at least i think it’s a yeast infection i got it twice and a third time this year. So i decided to go to the doctor and he just assumed i had another and gave a treatment for oral and vaginal. But a just yesterday i had sticky light green almost mucus like fluid coming out with no odour and i been having some really bad abdominal pain. I dont know what to do anymore been having this problem for two months now. Please help!

  30. Hi, 2 months I was having severe pain went to the urgent care they said it was a uti to call for my results in 3 days & gave me antibiotics. Went to the ER, they told me I had cysts to see my obgyn, they prescribed tremadol. I did, my obgyn didnt give me other 3minutes to talk to her. She told me that the ER lied to me, that cysts dont stay. But I had cysts before. She gave me more antibiotics, it was a waste. I did research and started taking chaste berry. I havent been on birth control for 3-4yrs now. Im married so We have sex regularly. My question is about two weeks ago I had a flush of fluids coming as if it were my period on a heavy flow, I go to check & its all liquid. No foul smell. Was I ovulating? And should I change doctors? The pain is still there, so I know the cysts are too. How can I have my doctor listen to me? I look very young, I wish she wouldve listened to me or ordered an ultrasound.

    • Forgot the mention the UTI came back negative, the urgent care told me to head to the ER right away.

    • You definitely need to consult a doctor regarding your symptoms, and get your cysts followed up by a docotr. We are not in any position to comment on whether you should change doctor or not. We welcome you to visit our clinics to get a proper assessment and consultation. We will listen to you.

  31. Dijah

    I’ve been getting faint positives. Had horrible cramps before any blood and that never happens and I spotted for four days before my expected date Wednesday and I never spot before a period. Clinic gave me a negative test. I dunno to believe them. Never had cramps before a period bad ones. And spotting. Dunno if I’m pregnant or not. And I bloat really badly ,.fatigued horribly,

    • It is best to consult a doctor to get a full assessment. Spotting and cramps are common before and after period, but we need to make sure there is no other sinister causes. You are welcomed to visit us at any of our clinics.

  32. Currently experiencing pinkish discharge for about a week and a half but never really got my period I took a pregnancy test it showed negative one day last week I did have what seemed like a period flow for 2 hours that was all… Do you know what may being on?

    • It is difficult to comment based on your description. You may want to consult a doctor to get a full assessment. You are welcomed to visit any of our clinics for a consultation.

    • Katelynn

      I’ve been having this for the same amount of time but it’s been all day not just two hours… Did you find out yet?

  33. Hi doctor recently I have been having a bit of white discharge, however, I have abit of blood in it, really really little, after two cleans and it’s gone. It’s like a little strings of blood in my discharge. my period is on the 8/9 of every month and today is only the 19th. I’m sexually active. I hope I’m not pregnant.

  34. dipicka

    M 23 years old…… i do sex once or twice a month only…….i do rubbing …..today i woke up….nd i saw 2-3 blood spots on my panty….my period date is 4……nd today is 17……today i saw blood spots……there is litle pain on right side of vagina since last 1 month……its very litle……can u tell me plz why it is happening

    • Dr Justin Sim

      Bleeding like this can be caused by many things – you rally need to see a doctor for this so you can be assessed correctly.

    • Hi Dipicka, thanks for your enquiry. I’m not sure I fully understand your situation – from what you’ve mentioned, you’re a sexually active female, your period is delayed, and youre having vaginal discomfort for 1 month, yes? In order to accurately diagnose the problem, we will need you to come in for proper examination and testing. Please feel free to drop into any of our centers to get this treated.

  35. Lisa Zi

    Hi Doctor. Regarding ‘Menses discharge’
    Besides having bright red blood discharge during menses about 4-7 days ; I do experience dark brown discharge which usually occurs towards the end of my menstruation or 1-2 days after menstruation. I read the article above stated ‘it is normal’.

    However my concern is around 2 weeks after my period which I usually get clean white liquid; BUT lately I had yellowish …and sometimes red yellow mucus.- I know that red mucus not period.
    FYI my menstrual cycle always have been normally bleeding on the accurate date…I’m 23 yrs old, haven’t been involving any sports for long time, not married – no intercourse.. As your article mentioned PH level- I am using lactacyd product to clean it.

    I am worried about this matter. As I don’t know how and who can I consult about this with nearest clinic or hospital etc.

    I hope Doc could give me your best reply.Thank you.

    • Yellowish or pinkish discharge could still be normal, but it could also be due to infection, especially if this is not something you experienced before. I would suggest you see a doctor to get yourself evaluated properly. You can visit a GP clinic or women’s health clinic. You are welcomed to visit any of our clinics for a consultation.

      • Lisa Zi

        Thank you for the feedback Dr Sii Sik Liong.
        May I know what will the procedure takes place if I would be going for check up at these nearest clinic as Doc hs suggested ?

        • Your doctor will talk to you to get as much information as possible, and do a body examination to make sure you are ok. If necessary, your doctor may decide to do some investigation such as vaginal swab, depending on his/her assessment.
          You can also ask questions when you see the doctor.

  36. Hello,

    I’ve been having what I thought was a prolonged period but it’s so strange I don’t know what’s going on.

    In April, when I was set to have my period – around the 23rd – I didn’t get any spotting until April 26th really. But then my period never really came. On May 1st, I started my period… so I thought. It started light and then shifted to just pink spotting. Some days nothing. This carried on for a couple of weeks. I took pregnancy tests and both came back negative.

    Around May 16th, I had a day of what was definitely period-like flow. Even had a larger clot. Quarter size. The next day though, it would be just watery discharge with spotting only when I wiped.

    Spotting then turned brownish and was minimal. I thought that this whole ordeal might actually be ending only to be surprised with a light period-like evening followed by pink/red spotting the next day. Then back to period-like evening.

    The next day I had light morning clotting, mild abdominal & back pain and odor. The next day I would have a day of only clear watery dischardge foloowed by a few days of consistent watery discharge and spotting really only when I wipe.

    Today, I went until 2pm with watery discharge, pinkish/brown when I wipe. At 2pm, I felt like I was gushing. I went to the bathroom and it looks like i started my period again. When I wiped there was another large clot.

    I was under a lot of stress over the past few months, have put on a little weight too, was taking baths almost everyday. When I think back before any of this started, I did have an odor. I don’t really have pain. Nothing like menstral cramps. Maybe just a dull ache every now and then or small shootings pains. Very minimally.

    I have an appointment to see the obgyn in a week but I’m starting to panic. I’ve waited 3 weeks so far for the appointment and don’t know whether I should call and see if I can get in sooner.

    Any advice is appreciated.

    Thank you!

    I’m a 37 woman. Never been pregnant. No medications.

    • Your symptoms do not sound normal. Abnormal bleeding like this could be due to many reasons and you will need some investigations done. See your gynaecologist as planned.

  37. Hi doc
    My period was 9 days late.i had a brownish discharge but stop.after that I’m having now a white creamy discharge which is very annoying to me.also had a lower back pain.what should i do.what happen to my cycle?.

    Thanks

    • drtan

      I am not sure. But based on your symptoms, it sounds like you should see your doctor. Although most likely it is due to some hormonal changes. you should also exclude malignancies and infections.

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