Most women don’t like vaginal discharge. They consider this secretion as something dirty and try their best to get rid of it. In fact, vaginal discharge plays an important role in your health down there. It cleans and keeps your vagina moist, helps to prevent and fight infections. Although the color and texture of your vaginal discharge may change due to your hormones, certain changes may imply a problem.
Normal and abnormal vaginal discharge
Normal vaginal discharge can be thin and sticky or thick and gooey. It should be clear, and white or white-ish. It’s essential to keep an eye on your vaginal discharge. These changes could be the warning sign of infection or illness:
- Unpleasant odor
- Greenish, grayish, or pus-like secretion
- Foamy or cottage cheese texture
- Itching, burning, swelling, redness or other discomforts
- Bleeding or spotting outside of your menstrual cycle
Abnormal discharge may be caused by infections such as bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis (yeast infection), and trichomoniasis. Bacterial vaginosis and candidiasis may happen without sex. Gonorrhea is also a possible cause of abnormal vaginal discharge, but it spreads via unprotected sex.
If you notice a concerning change in your vaginal discharge, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Common infections associated with abnormal vaginal discharge
A yeast infection may produce white and thick discharge that has the texture of cottage cheese. If you have a yeast infection, you may not smell bad but you are likely to experience severe itching and burning.
Women with bacterial vaginosis (BV) often have discharge that smells strong and fishy. The secretion may look thin and grayish.
Trichomoniasis causes foul odor. The discharge may look foamy and yellow-green. The condition also lead to itching and urinary pain.
Many of the conditions associated with abnormal discharge are dangerous. Therefore, timely diagnosis and treatment are essential. For women who have had sex, or have had sex without condoms, there is a risk of sexually transmitted diseases. If you think you have had sex with someone who might have a sexually transmitted disease, seek medical help immediately. Also, visit a doctor right away if your abnormal discharge is accompanied with a fever and abdominal or pelvic pain.
Tips to prevent abnormal discharge and infections
- Maintain vaginal hygiene by washing frequently with a mild soap and warm water.
- Avoid scented feminine products and bubble baths.
- Do not douche.
- After passing bowel movements, wipe from the front to the back to prevent bacteria from getting into your vagina.
- Use 100% cotton underwear and avoid clothing that is too tight.
You may also interest in:
- Wearing Tight Underwear: Vaginal Yeast Infections
- 4 Things You Should Not Insert in Your Vagina
- Causes of Vaginal Odor
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 16, 2017 | Last Modified: December 9, 2019
Vaginal Discharge: What’s Abnormal? http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginal-discharge-whats-abnormal#1. Accessed May 13, 2017.
Vaginal Discharge: What's Normal, What's Not. http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/vdischarge2.html. Accessed May 13, 2017.