The Colour-Coded Guide to Vaginal Discharge
For most women vaginal discharge is an ordinary bodily phenomenon. However, they enter a state of panic when they find unusual coloration or a change in the consistency of the discharge.
A solution to this panic lies in understanding what the colours and the consistency mean.
What is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is any fluid secreted from tiny glands in the vagina and cervix. This fluid leaks from the vagina every day to remove old cells and debris, detox the vagina and the reproductive tract and keep it healthy.
The amount of vaginal discharge can differ from person to person. The colour, consistency, and even its amount can also vary from day to day, depending on where a person is in their menstrual cycle.
What Do the Different Colours Mean?
Red Discharge is the result of bleeding during the menstrual cycle and can vary from bright to a dark rusty colour. Anyone who experiences bleeding between menstrual periods should see a doctor.
A bit of white discharge, especially in the beginning or end of your menstrual cycle, is normal. However, if the discharge is accompanied by itching and thick consistency or appearance, it’s not normal and needs treatment. This type of unusual discharge may be an indication of a yeast infection.
- Clear and Watery
This type of Discharge is said to be very normal especially right after heavy exercise. It can also occur at any point of the month.
- Brown or Bloody
It occurs during or right after your menstrual cycle and is considered very normal. A departed discharge at the end of your period can look rusty brown instead of red. You may also experience bloody discharge between periods, known as spotting.
The discharge that is a darker shade of yellow or yellowish-green usually indicates a bacterial or sexually transmitted infection. See a doctor as soon as possible if vaginal discharge is thick or clumpy, or if it has a foul odour.
You can see pink-coloured discharge either because of spotting before the period or as a sign of early pregnancy. If the discharge is after sexual intercourse, the sex has caused small tears or irritation in the vagina or cervix.
Grey vaginal discharge is not at all healthy and it can be a symptom of a common bacterial infection called bacterial vaginosis (BV). It usually causes other vaginal symptoms as well, including itching, irritation, a strong odour, and redness around the vulva or vaginal opening. Anyone with gray discharge should see a doctor. Following a diagnosis report, the doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics to treat the BV.
Vaginal discharge is normal and you can’t prevent it. To help prevent irritation, soreness, or dryness:
- Wash gently
- Use water and an emollient, such as E45 cream, or plain soap
- Use perfumed soaps or gels
- Use Deodorants or scented hygiene wipes
Abnormal vaginal discharge is caused by several infections such as yeast infection, Gonorrhoea, HPV, bacterial vaginosis, etc. If you have unusual discharge alongside certain other symptoms such as fever, constant fatigue, or unexplained weight loss, it is recommended to visit your doctor. After a proper diagnosis, you can be guided on the causes of the unusual colour and a course of treatment can be carried out.
“It’s never going to be too early or too late to work towards being the healthiest you”
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, ‘Vaginal Discharge’, official HHS.gov website (accessed on 22nd April, 2020)
- National Health Service, ‘Vaginal discharge’, official NHS website (accessed on 22nd April, 2020)
- UnityPoint Health, ‘5 Types of Vaginal Discharge & What they Mean (Infographic)’, official website (accessed on 22nd April, 2020)
- Sutter Health, ‘Vaginal Discharge’, official website (accessed on 22nd April, 2020)