Vaginal Discharge – Colour Guide and Treatment
Vaginal discharge is a natural fluid made by the vagina’s glands. It is a crucial part of the vagina’s self-cleaning process, as it helps remove dead cells and bacteria, keeping the vagina’s delicate pH balance healthy.
The colour, texture, amount, and odour of vaginal discharge vary from woman to woman. Discharge can change in a single woman throughout the month, too. For example, discharge is often waterier and clearer during ovulation.
It’s important to pay attention to your discharge as it can show you the health of your vagina. If you experience abnormal discharge, it could be a sign of an underlying problem. Some things that can cause abnormal discharge include:
- Scented Products
- Birth Control
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
By understanding what might change your vaginal discharge and what constitutes normal and abnormal, you can make better decisions concerning your vagina’s health.
Keep reading to find out:
- What healthy vaginal discharge looks like
- A vaginal discharge colour guide
- When to see a doctor about your vaginal discharge
- Treatment for abnormal vaginal discharge
- How to keep your discharge healthy
What is Healthy Vaginal Discharge?
Healthy vaginal discharge can look different from person to person, but generally, it is clear or milky with a subtle scent. The consistency may vary – sometimes, it will be thicker than others. It is usual for women to have around 2 to 5ml of discharge per day.
Vaginal Discharge – Colour Guide
Keeping your vagina healthy means understanding what is normal and what is not. Here is a colour guide to help you understand what your vaginal discharge could mean.
White discharge (from pure white to yellow-white) can generally be read as healthy. However, if you have a very thick white discharge with a cottage cheese texture, that could be a sign of a yeast infection – especially if it’s accompanied by a strong and unpleasant smell. Yeast infections often warrant antifungal treatments like Gyno Pevaryl Topical Cream.
Red discharge is normal during periods, as that is when the vagina is getting rid of blood and tissue. Menstrual bleeding during your time of the month is nothing to worry over.
If you experience red discharge between periods, during pregnancy, or after menopause, though, that could be a sign of infection or something wrong. If you are bleeding during pregnancy, see your doctor or midwife as soon as possible. Bleeding after menopause may be a sign of endometrial cancer, so you must get a check-up as soon as possible.
Grey discharge is abnormal discharge and requires a trip to the doctor. It is a common sign of bacterial vaginosis (BV) – a vaginal infection associated with itching, burning, and strong, fishy smelling discharge. Treatment options are simple and usually involve a round of antibiotics to clear the infection up.
Pink vaginal discharge has a range of causes. Pink spotting can happen before your period, during ovulation, and during pregnancy and is usually nothing to worry about. If you are concerned, though, you can always check with your doctor.
You might also experience light pink spotting after sex. It may be caused by small tears in the vagina and could be a sign of vaginal dryness or irritation. If that’s the case, there are treatment options like topical oestrogen and water-based lubricants.
Brown discharge may seem alarming, but it is usually nothing to worry over. More often than not, brown discharge is old blood from the uterus that didn’t get disposed of during your last menstrual bleeding. It is common to find brown discharge thick before and after your period.
If you find brown discharge happens often and occurs at other times of your menstrual cycle, it might indicate a hormonal imbalance.
Yellow vaginal discharge can be healthy – especially if it’s white-yellow.
If your discharge is a darker yellow or has a green tinge, it is a sign that you may have an infection, such as a yeast infection or an STI. Other symptoms of infection include clumpy discharge, itchiness, burning, and an unpleasant odour.
If you have dark yellow or green discharge, you should get it checked with your doctor as soon as possible.
Clear discharge is a healthy discharge. It often has an egg-white consistency with only a subtle scent, and you may produce more clear discharge during ovulation or when sexually aroused.
When to See a Doctor
Knowing when your vagina is healthy and when you need to see a doctor is important. Schedule an appointment if you experience any of the following:
- Thick and Clumpy Discharge
- Cloudy Discharge
- A Foul Odour
- Dark Yellow or Green Discharge
- Bleeding Between Periods
- Grey Discharge
Many of these symptoms show an underlying problem, and it is worth getting checked by a medical professional.
It can be hard to go to the doctor for your vagina’s health as you may feel embarrassed. Remember, though, that your vagina’s health is incredibly important, and doctors deal with all kinds of vaginal issues every day.
Treatment for Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Treatment for abnormal vaginal discharge varies depending on the underlying cause.
Yeast infections like thrush often produce thick, cottage cheese-like discharge, as well as itchiness and soreness. They are extremely common – affecting most women at some point in their lives. Treatment for yeast infections includes vaginal and antifungal creams. Gyno Pevaryl cream can be applied to the vaginal area to help clear up the infection within 14 days.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) has symptoms like grey discharge, itching, burning, and a fishy odour. The treatment for BV is a round of antibiotics that can be prescribed by your doctor. There is no known cause of BV, but activities like douching and unprotected sex can increase your chances of getting it.
Some sexually transmitted infections – like chlamydia, genital herpes, and gonorrhoea, have symptoms that affect a woman’s vaginal discharge. The treatment for each STD depends on the infection itself. Chlamydia, for example, requires antibiotics to clear it up. Other STDs like genital herpes, however, are lifelong with no cure and require ongoing medications to manage symptoms.
How to Keep Healthy Discharge
It’s essential to know how to look after your vagina. Knowing how to clean it, what to avoid, and the signs that something is wrong means you have a better chance of keeping your vagina healthy and happy. Here is how to keep your discharge healthy.
Visit Your Doctor
Visiting your GP or a gynaecologist is important for maintaining vaginal health. Even if you don’t suspect something is wrong, it helps to visit your doctor. They can understand your vaginal health in ways you may not be able to, after all.
Use Unscented Products
Using multiple scented products on your vaginal area can upset its natural pH balance and cause issues like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Keep your vagina healthy by only using unscented products on the area – a gentle, unscented soap and water will suffice for cleaning your vulva.
Practice Good Hygiene
Good vaginal hygiene is essential when it comes to keeping healthy discharge. That means cleaning your vulva daily, changing tampons/pads when necessary, and wiping front to back when using the toilet.
Some women assume douching will keep them cleaner down there, but that is not true. The vagina is self-cleaning and doesn’t need cleaning inside, so put down the douche and focus on washing the vulva with water or an unscented soap if necessary instead.
Address Problems Quickly
Understanding the difference between normal and abnormal discharge means being able to address vaginal issues quickly, which is essential for your vaginal health. As soon as you notice anything out of the ordinary, such as a cloudy texture or foul smelling vaginal discharge, be sure to get it checked out.
Frequently asked questions
What vaginal discharge is normal?
Vaginal discharge is normal; it keeps the vagina clean and moist. Normal vaginal discharge is usually clear or milky in colour and may have a subtle scent that does not smell unpleasant. Vaginal discharge changes throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. Changes in colour and thickness are associated with ovulation and are normal.
What Are the Signs of Thrush?
Thrush discharge often looks clumpy and has a yeasty smell. You may also experience itching, burning, and redness around the vagina. Treatment is quite simple – Gyno Pevaryl can clear up the yeast infection in 14 days.
Why Does My Discharge Change Throughout the Month?
Vaginal discharge changes throughout the menstrual cycle – it is normal. You only need to worry if you experience abnormal discharge, such as smelly discharge or an unusual colour or texture.
What Makes Discharge Sticky?
A sticky, tacky discharge texture is very common and usually occurs just before ovulation. You may find that your discharge has a similar consistency to egg whites. Again, this is natural and nothing to worry about.
What is the reason for white discharge?
Thick white discharge is common at the beginning and end of your menstrual cycle. As long as it is not clumpy or accompanied by itchiness or a foul odour, it is likely healthy.
When should I be concerned about discharge?
If your discharge changes in smell, colour, or texture – it might be a sign of an infection or that something is wrong. If you are worried about your discharge, see a doctor.