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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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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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?

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.


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