What is Vaginal Discharge?

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Vaginal discharge is fluid that is excreted from your vagina. Discharge is normal, but changes in the colour, consistency and smell can indicate an infection or health problem. The fluid for vaginal discharge is normally clear, white, or off-white.


Where is Vaginal Discharge Formed?

The uterus and cervix produce this fluid which is normally a combination of cells and bacteria. Normal vaginal discharge help keep the vagina lubricant clean. Every woman is different which is why every woman will have a different experience to discharge.

But if you notice a change in your vaginal discharge it is advised to consult a medical professional, as this could be an indication of infection.


What is Normal Vaginal Discharge? 

Clear and white vaginal discharge is considered normal. It should not have a strong smell. It is normal for the texture to change from watery to sticky and pasty.


Vaginal Discharge: Signs of an Infection

The change in texture is due to a hormonal change that happens in every woman’s body. If vaginal discharge is foamy or accompanied by itchiness, and changes colour, this could be an indication of infection.  A normal colour for discharge is usually clear, white, or off-white. If your vaginal discharge is dark yellow, brown, green, or grey it might be an indication of infection.

It is normal for vaginal discharge to have an odour, but it should not have a strong smell to it. If you have a fishy or foul smell, with a change in consistency, it might indicate infection.


How Much Discharge is Normal?

The amount of vaginal discharge will be different for each woman. There are a few factors that can affect the amount of vaginal discharge produced. Factors like pregnancy, oral contraception and ovulation can affect the amount of discharge produced. 


Different Colours of Discharge and What They Mean

The change of your vaginal discharge can indicate infection.


Yellow, Green, or Grey Discharge Meaning

Yellow, green, or grey discharge can indicate a bacterial infection or sexually transmitted infection (STI).


Brown or Red Vaginal Discharge

Brown or red discharge is an indication of irregular menstruation or pregnancy. Brown discharge means it is ‘older’ blood and red means it is ‘new’ blood.


White Discharge Meaning

Clear, off-white, or white discharge accompanied by an increase in viscosity (thicker discharge) can indicate a yeast infection. 


Possible Causes of Change in Vaginal Discharge

There are a few reasons why women can get an infection that causes vaginal discharge to change. These infections are commonly caused by having sexual intercourse with someone who is already infected. 


Yeast Infection

A yeast infection is when candida (a fungus) grows faster than normal in your vagina. Symptoms of a yeast infection are a combination of a smelly, white cottage cheese-like discharge accompanied with vaginal itchiness. Women are more prone to getting a yeast infection after being diagnosed with a UTI or taking a course of antibiotics.  Yeast infections can be treated with anti-fungal vaginal cream. 



Trichomoniasis is known as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), that you can get from having sexual intercourse with an infected person. Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite, this condition can be treated with antibiotics. 


Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is when there is a bacterial imbalance in your vagina, causing a rapid growth of bacteria. This condition can also be treated with antibiotics.


Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia

Gonorrhoea and chlamydia are common sexually transmitted infections that you can get from having sexual intercourse with an infected person. Both conditions are treatable with antibiotics. If these infections are left untreated it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. 


Non-infectious Causes of Vaginal Discharge

Infection is not always the reason for the change of vaginal discharge.


Sexual Intercourse

Changes in your vaginal bacteria and having sexual intercourse can also change your vaginal discharge.


Tampon Insertion

Inserting an object (for example a tampon) can also have an effect on your vaginal discharge. Objects, like a tampon, can sometimes cause a rash or irritation inside the vagina.



Lubricants and other chemicals inserted into the vagina can also cause irritation and rash. Post-menopausal women might experience a condition called atrophic vaginitis. This is because oestrogen levels for post-menopausal women decrease, causing the vaginal wall to become thinner and dry.



During pregnancy, your body will protect your baby from bacteria by producing more vaginal discharge. This is something called a pregnancy mucus plug, it is mucus that forms in the cervical canal to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus, protecting the baby.



Your vaginal discharge might become extra thin and wet during ovulation, this is your body’s natural way of helping sperm swim up the vagina and cervix to reach and fertilise an egg cell

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