Vaginal Discharge: What’s Normal, What’s Not

Excessive Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge comes in many consistencies and colours, and like many things in life, not all types of vaginal discharge are created equal. Your discharge is usually colourless or slightly white, can be watery or “stretchy”, and should not have a foul stench. But from time to time you may notice that your discharge is thicker or waterier, lighter or darker, odourless or… less odourless. So today we are going to address all the questions about vaginal discharge that you may have!


 

1. Why does my vaginal discharge look brown?

If your discharge looks brown, around the middle of your menstrual cycle, you are probably spotting due to ovulation. The brown colour comes about when you have a tiny amount of blood mixed into the discharge. When you ovulate, the ovum is discharged from the ovary, and a little bit of blood can be released in the process, and when this happens, your discharge may appear brown. This is totally normal.

That said, there can also be pathological reasons as to why you bleed and cause your discharge to look brown. These reasons include:

  • Microtrauma, that occurs during sex, and is accompanied by bloody discharge
  • A progesterone deficiency or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. (Requires treatment)
  • Thyroid dysfunction and other hormonal disorders
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Cervical cancer
  • Uterine fibroids and endometrial cancer
  • Abnormal growth of the endometrium
  • Diseases of the hematological origin.

The distinguishing factor between pathological bleeding and spotting from ovulation is the presence of postcoital bleeding (bleeding after sex). If your discharge gets to be a very dark brown colour, then it’s time you go for a checkup, as it may indicate pathological bleeding.

2. Why do I have a lot of white discharge before my period?

Having some white discharge before your period is completely normal, and odourless white discharge is actually common throughout your menstrual cycle. As long as it is not accompanied by any itchiness or a burning sensation, then you should not be alarmed.

If you have a lot of white discharge that has a cheesy consistency, and a bad smell, then you may have a yeast infection. While uncomfortable, a yeast infection is easily treatable, with medication such as Canesten® which is available in pharmacies. If the white discharge has a greyish tinge and a fishy odour, and is accompanied by itchiness and a burning sensation, then you may be at risk for bacterial vaginosis, which is an infection that that can be caused by sexual intercourse, or douching. Once again, this is easily treatable by getting a prescription from your doctor.

3. What does yellowish discharge mean?

Discharge that has a yellowish tinge may be a signal that you have Trichomoniasis, which is a type of vaginal infection. It is almost always spread through sexual contact. However, the bacteria can survive for up to twenty-four hours in a moist environment, making wet towels or bathing suits possible instruments of transmission from someone with the infection.

Common symptoms of infection include yellowish or greenish discharge, with a frothy consistency and a foul smell. You will most likely also experience an inflammation and irritation of the vulva or vagina. This infection can be treated using oral antibiotics, and intercourse should be avoided until treatment is completed.

4. How do I know if my vaginal discharge is normal?

There are many types of vaginal discharge, but typical discharge should be clear or slightly white, and should not be overly thick or cheese-like. It should not have a foul stench, and should not come together with any uncomfortable sensation. A few days after ovulation, your discharge tends to be slightly stretchier and this is your body telling you that you are fertile, and watery discharge can occur after exercise, and white discharge can happen before your period. These types of discharge are totally normal.

The abnormal types of discharge include “cheesy” discharge, yellow/green discharge, or dark discharge. After you are aware of the different types of discharges, as well as your own normal type of discharge, you can then gauge what’s normal for you, and what’s not.


Vaginal discharge can provide valuable insight into the state of your vagina, and can be very helpful in identifying any sort of infection going on down there. Hopefully this post helped you guys make sense of your vaginal discharge, and if you have anymore questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below! 🙂

 

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Chen Wei Chua

Chen Wei is an undergrad majoring in Psychology. She's currently spending a year in New York City, where she's interning at a startup. When she's not at work, you can find her practising yoga, or exploring the Big Apple with her camera in hand.

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