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.

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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.



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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.

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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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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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Where to find us.

Related topics.

More on vaginal discharge.

Vaginal bleeding.

Candida (Yeast/vaginal thrush)

Bacterial vaginosis




If you have any questions, visit our free online forum on sexual health, HIV and STDs.

Dr (Ms) De Souza

MD (Russia), MMed (Obs&Gyn)


  1. I received a D&C on Halloween. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant again. 23 days after my procedure I started to have brown spotting. It lasted a day and it stopped. It started one day later with brown discharge and stopped. I only had to wear a liner. Today I had snot like mucus after I passed a bowel movement. Could this be implantation bleeding or my period.

    • What was the D+C for? It is highly unlikely for you to be pregnant so soon after a D+C. Your endometrial lining will be very thin. The brown spotting could be your period but since the lining is so thin, it only appears as a brown discharge. The other thing to be careful about if there was anything left in the womb after the D+C. This can cause an infection and present with discharge.

  2. i haven’t gotten my period this month and I just had some elastic thick yellow-red discharge come out my vagina…I want to know if its anything to worry about and if I need to be seen for it.

    • I honestly do not know. It is very difficult to picture what you are describing. To err on the side of caution, you should see your doctor.

  3. Hi Doc,

    I usually have my period 28 days after last menstruation. But this month, it’s already 30 days ( First day of my last period was 26 Oct). For the last 5 days, I have intermittent pinkish spotting. Not really a discharge coz I can only see the pinkish liquid when I wipe. Could I be pregnant? I have no pregnancy symptoms at all.


    • Sounds like you want to be pregnant. And I hope you are. Delayed period and pink discharge can be due to pregnancy. But there are many other possible reasons for these symptoms, including hormonal changes. So keep your fingers crossed and get a pregnancy test after 2 weeks if you still have not have your period.

  4. Hi Doctor,

    im having on doutt. actully today on my vagina i sawed some bacteria like white color one it will be 3mm size . my vegina started to itch and some thing i felt and i sawed wts happening suddenly one bacteria i sawed. im very scared about this wt is the problem can u tel me something.


    • I really do not understand your question. You cannot see bacteria with the naked eye and bacteria are definitely not white and 3mm in size.

  5. dr I had a misscarige a week ago and since then have a clear discharge, just today I peed yellow/orange . why would that be ?

    • Having a discharge after a miscarraige is quite normal. I am not sure about the peeing yellow. Maybe you are just dehydrated or maybe there is an infection. If you have pain passing urine or a fever please see your doctor.

  6. Good day Doc. I am sick with worry. I am a mom of a six month old boy. I only had my periods just after he was born and never had them again. I recently had sex with my partner using a condom and without one. I took a morning after pill just to be on the safe side. Now five days later I noticed pink discharge and I am still breastfeeding. Could I be pregnant again or is it something else. Please help desperate..

    • The “periods” you had just after he was born were probably not proper periods. I would guess they were more just lochia. The pink discharge is probably just a sign of your periods coming back or the side effect of the morning after pill. I think the chance of you being pregnant is really remote.

  7. Last night I had sex with my bf twice… The second time I wasnt as lubricated.. Well this afternoon I noticed I have a brownish-pink discharge. I do currently have bv… Could that be because of bv? (I dont have any pain)

    • It is probably a combination of factors. BV will cause your vaginal epithelium to be more fragile and the sex could have abraded the epithelium causing the bleeding. If you are an older lady, you should be aware of more sinister problems like cancers. Click here for our Women’s Health Blog to find out more.

  8. My period started on the first and continue until the third of November, since the bleeding has stopped my mucus has creamy, brown, red, egg white color to it and has been constant. What does this mean??

    • It sounds like there is still come bleeding going on. Better see your doctor to find out what it causing it.

  9. Chloe Jarratt

    Hi, I had sex lastnight and today I’m loosing a yellowish greens discharge? And hurts when I wee.

  10. anonymous female

    I have a really dark brown discharge that looks like old blood I had unprotected sex with my boyfriend two days into my period we also had sex every night since then. We didn’t have sex for two nights. I stopped bleeding and didn’t bleed again thenext the discharge just started yesterday and I’m a little worried can you help me?

    • I’m sorry. Your post is quite confusing. You need to be clearer on the timelines.

  11. Hey Dr I had a yellowish discharge which was fowl at times this discharged turned into a lighter discharge without the smell an some abdominal pain started it has me worried I had a baby 7 mths ago talk to my fren an she told me it cld b a infection my bf went BT the Dr for the same discharge Cuz he noticed it coming from his penis an they told him it was runnings I have no burning during sex either while urinating so I jus want to no what these symptoms could be.

  12. Doc is it possible that I am pregnant?or those are just symptoms of pregnancy?

  13. My boyfriend and I had sex yesterday and immediately after I began bleeding a bit. I assumed that it was just that he had been a bit too rough and maybe tore something so I ignored it for the time being but the bleeding has intensified (albeit not by much) and I also am experiencing cramping similar to my period and yet I just had my period 13-14 days ago. I tried a new birth control for a couple days (about four) but quit taking it about four or five days ago because a friend gave it to me instead of my doctor and I wanted to double check with them before continuing it, but I don’t think I took it long enough for it to really influence my body. What could be causing this strange bleeding and what should I be looking out for? Thank you!

    • Sounds like the birth control pills to me. First of all you took them about 1 week into your period which is the wrong time to start. Then you took it for only 4 days then stopped. This can really mess up your hormonal system. Of course, there can be other causes like cervical polyps, cervical pre-cancer, HPV infections, ovulation or as you said, tears and abrasions.

  14. two months delayed, sore breast,yellowish discharge with fishy smell, burn during urination, low appetite doc what this may cause?

    • Before of yellowish discharge a very light blood is present sometimes it s brown just like the end of period

      • Definitely sounds like an infection. Please see a doctor asap. You are welcome to see us if you wish. Click here for location info.

        • Thank you for the reply doc.Doc, should I go an OB-gyne? Or what

        • Hi. Me and husband had sex when i ovulated and before and after that. My period is to start on 16 november, but last monday i began to feel nauseous and very moody until that thursday and then it went away but i am still very moody. But today i started getting cramps and when i came home from work tonight i saw light pink discharge and a bit of cramping. And this is not my usual period pains. This morning i took a clear blue test but it was negative. What does this mean

          • It is not yet November 16. Your pregnancy test will not be accurate. Repeat it in 2 weeks if you still have not had your period.


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