Vaginal Discharge Meaning Types and Causes

What Does Vaginal Discharge Mean?

Period Hacks
Last Updated 01/09/2023 5 Mins Read

The onset of puberty, followed by the menstrual cycle, brings various physical, behavioural, and hormonal changes in your body. Vaginal discharge is one of those and is quite common.

While it is common, it should not be treated casually. There are some aspects of vaginal discharge that you should know, like:

  • How many types of vaginal discharge are there?
  • Is your vaginal discharge normal or not?
  • What are the possible signs of vaginal infections?
  • How to treat the infection?

We will help you understand vaginal discharge, its types, signs, and treatment if required.

Vaginal Discharge Meaning

It is a thin, clear, white or slightly yellow fluid that comes out of your vagina. This is a completely natural process. The fluid helps maintain the hygiene of your vagina by eliminating harmful bacteria and infections.

This white discharge in women appears once the menstruation cycle has begun. However, the white discharge can start a few months before your first period signifying the start of adolescence.

Though vaginal discharge is completely natural, the following changes need to be monitored:

Types of Vaginal Discharge

The vaginal discharge varies from person to person. Also, the colour, texture, and amount of discharge vary when your menstrual cycle is on or approaching. Sound confusing? Don’t worry! Let's get you acquainted with the types of discharges.

1. White discharge from the vagina

As per the name, it is the white-coloured fluid that you will commonly observe at the beginning or end of your menstrual cycle. Naturally, this discharge will be thick and gluey with no strong smell.

2. Clear and watery discharge

Such discharge commonly occurs after a heavy workout or around the ovulation period.

3. Clear and stretchy discharge

The discharge changes from watery to stretchy when your ovulation starts.

4. Yellow or green discharge

Yellowish or greenish discharge, which is thick and lumpy with an unpleasant smell, maybe a hint of infection.

5. Brown discharge

You will notice brown or bloody discharge right after the periods. This is a sign that your body is cleansing your vagina.

6. Spotting blood discharge

It is abloody discharge between your periods and at the early stage of pregnancy.

Healthy vs Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

Knowing about the common types of discharges is one thing, but how to differentiate between a normal and abnormal discharge. Here is a quick comparison for your understanding.

Healthy or Normal Vaginal Discharge

  • Healthy vaginal discharge is whitish or clear in appearance.
  • Mostly normal discharges are odourless.
  • The fluid can leave a stain on your underwear.
  • The consistency of the normal discharge changes from body to body and even before and after the menstrual cycle.
  • Healthy discharge is needed for the body as it helps keep the vagina clean, prevents infections, and delivers lubrication.

Unhealthy or Abnormal Discharge

What Causes Vaginal Discharge?

The glands inside your vagina and cervix produce small quantities of fluid which flow out of the vagina carrying out old cells that have lined the vagina. These vaginal fluids help maintain a naturally acidic environment in your vagina to prevent various infections.

Any changes in the normal balance of healthy bacteria in your vagina lead to infection. Reasons that disturb the balance of a healthy vagina are:

Signs of vaginal infections

Some of the possible vaginal infections and their signs you should be aware of are.

1. Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

A sudden increase in vaginal discharge with a strong, nasty, or fishy odour is a sign of bacterial infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV). In such infection, the discharge may also look white, yellow, or grey having a thin and watery flow. These can be transferred via sexual contact as well.

2. Yeast infection

Vaginal yeast infection occurs when yeast growth suddenly increases in the vagina. It leads to a thick, white cottage cheese-like discharge accompanied by burning, itching, and irritation around the vagina.

3. Trichomoniasis

This is another type of vaginal infection that is caused by a parasite. In such an infection, the vaginal discharge turns green, yellow, grey, or frothy with itching, inflammation, and pain around the vagina. This usually happens due to unprotected sexual contact or by sharing personal stuff like towels, soap, and bathing suits.

4. Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a vaginal infection that causes abnormal discharge from the cervix, which is greenish, yellow, or grey. You may also experience pelvic and stomach pain and pain while urination as well.

Home care for vaginal discharge treatment

Some simple home care routines that you can follow to prevent bacterial and fungal infections in the vaginal area are.

  1. Avoid using scented products and douches (instruments or liquids to clean the vagina) that may cause irritation.
  2. Keep the outer genital area clean and dehydrate. This will help to avoid vaginal bacteria and odours.
  3. Use comfortable panty that gives your vaginal a breathable experience.
  4. Use superior quality period panties or sanitary napkins during your menses.
  5. Also, keep changing them at regular intervals. You can try the Kotex overnight period panties that provide an airy, soft experience.
  6. Using condoms during sexual activity can reduce the risk of infection.

Seek medical help

The unusual and prolonged vaginal discharge could be a sign of infection or a sexually transmitted disease, or any other health condition. Call your doctor if you are experiencing any of the above signs of infections or other abnormalities.

Here’s a quick table to help you understand.

Type of Discharge

Reason for the Discharge

Common Symptoms

What You Should Do

Milky or white with no smell.

This is completely natural and can begin a few months before your first period, predicting the start of adolescence.

This is a normal discharge.

Absolutely Nothing! It’s your body adjusting to hormonal changes.

White or yellow or grey discharge.

Bacterial vaginosis is a possible cause.

The discharge would have a fishy odour accompanied by itching and swelling around the vagina.

It's not normal. Consult a healthcare professional.

Dense, white, and like cottage cheese.

It could be due to a vaginal yeast infection.

Itching, soreness, burning, or pain in the vagina. You may sometimes also experience pain when urinating or having sex, along with redness, swelling or inflammation around the vulva.

Prefer consulting your healthcare professional.

Yellow or green discharge that is thick or lumpy.

Trichomoniasis is a possible reason.

You would experience a foul odour with itching, rashes, and pain around the vaginal area.

It is a sign of parasite infection. Consult a healthcare professional.

Cloudy yellow or green discharge.

Gonorrhoea is the possible cause

You would undergo pelvic pain.

It's not normal. Take a healthcare professional's advice.

Bloody or brown discharge.

Irregular menses is a possible cause.

You would encounter vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain.

This needs a healthcare professional’s advice.

 

We hope you found the information helpful. Know that the vaginal discharge is completely normal, and it is your body's way of maintaining your vagina's health. Just be wary of the signs mentioned above, and stay safe and healthy.

Last Updated 01/09/2023 5 Mins Read

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