Vaginal discharge is something that all women deal with on a daily basis, but most of us don't really know what it is or why it's important. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about vaginal discharge! We'll cover the different types of discharge, what each type means, and how to take care of your Vagina!
What is vaginal discharge?
Our vaginal discharge is caused by the mixture of cervical mucus and vaginal secretions. Vaginal secretions are produced by the Bartholin's glands, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands. Cervical mucus is produced by the cervix in response to ovulation and during pregnancy. Your "normal" vaginal discharge might change many different times throughout your lifetime.
What causes vaginal discharge??
Vaginal discharges can be attributed to your normal vaginal functioning and maintenance. However, it can cause an imbalance when a healthy vagina is compromised. There can be many problems in vaginal balance such as:
A color-coded guide to vaginal discharge
Vaginal discharge is often characterized in many colors, indicating health of the body. We created a chart below to help you self diagnose your vaginal health and when you should consider consulting your doctor.
What does clear discharge mean?
Clear discharge is usually a sign that everything is normal in the land down under. It means that your body is working as it should and that you’re healthy. The amount of clear discharge might differ depending on the time of the month. For example, during ovulation you may produce more clear discharge than other days of the month because your body is preparing for conception.
However, sometimes clear discharge can be a sign of a yeast infection. If you start to experience other symptoms, like itchiness or burning, then you might have a yeast infection and should consult your doctor.
What does white discharge mean?
White, thick discharge is very common at the beginning of ovulation. Normal white vaginal discharge is not accompanied by itching. If it is, thick white discharge and itching may indicate a yeast infection.
Yellow, green, or grey discharge
If you have yellow or green or grey discharge this may indicate an infection, especially if it's thick like cottage cheese or has a really foul odor.
What does brown discharge mean?
This may happen right after your period or at the beginning of your period. Your body is cleaning out your vagina and old blood looks brown.
Blood discharge during your period
Congratulations you have your period. This is also very normal.
Spotting blood discharge (other than during your period)
This may happen mid cycle or when you're ovulating. Sometimes in early pregnancy you may experience spotting or a brownish discharge at the time your period would normally come.
Changes in vaginal discharge throughout your cycle
During the first few days of your cycle, your estrogen and progesterone levels are at virtually zero. And since they're at zero, your cervix is not producing much fluid at all. However, you won't be able to notice this because you have your period.
Just after your period (follicular phase)
Right after you finish your period, you're probably feeling great because your estrogen is rising. You won't notice too much cervical fluid though for a few days until estrogen gets higher.
Leading up to ovulation
As your estrogen levels rise, so does the amount of fluid your cervix produces. It might be thick, sticky or tacky and get more slippery and creaming like lotion. It could look whitish and cloudy or a little yellow. This is your body preparing for ovulation.
When your body is preparing for ovulation, the cervical fluid becomes very slippery, wet, clear, and stretchy. Peak cervical discharge is about 95% water and 5% solids. This will make conception just a bit better.
Just after ovulation and right before your period
Sticky and dry. As soon as you finish ovulating, your vaginal discharge changes again! Your amount of fluid dramatically decreases. Progesterone, which is the main hormone that rises during the luteal phase, acts to prevent the secretion of fluid from the cervix's cells. Your fluid will either become sticky or tacky OR just plain old dry.
Every body is VERY unique. These changes may show up differently for you, and that's totally okay!
Signs of abnormal vaginal discharge
When there are changes in your vaginal fluid pattern can signal a hormonal issue or infections. Normally, this will also accompany changes in your menstrual cycle or period, along with other symptoms--such as itching and odors.
Signs of abnormal discharge include changes in:
- Smell: a fishy, metallic, or a not normal odor
- Consistency: unusually thin, or thick and more textured/chunky
- Color: green, yellow, grey, or brown
- Volume: significant and unexpected in volume
What infections cause vaginal discharge to change?
Discharge from a yeast infection is thick, white, and cottage cheese like.
You cannot get a yeast infection from having sex this generally happens from a disruption in hormone levels.
Yeast infections are treated with a vaginal cream or pill.
Discharge caused by trichomoniasis is generally green, yellow, or gray in color and frothy.
Trichomoniasis is caused by having sex with an infected person.
Antibiotics are used to treat the infection.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
BV or Bacterial vaginosis discharge can be white with a fishy odor.
It can be caused by having sex with someone who carries the bacteria that causes BV.
Antibiotic or vaginal creams usually treat BV.
Gonorrhea discharge looks cloudy or yellow.
It's caused by having sex with an infected person.
Antibiotic pills or shots will treat a Gonorrhea infection.
Often Chlamydia has no symptoms, but if not treated it could cause pelvic inflammatory disease.
It is caused by having sex with an infected person.
You can treat chlamydia with antibiotic pills.