Vaginal Discharge Colors And What They Can Mean

Many women hate seeing a discharge that comes out from their vaginas. They think that this is dirty and may cause some severe infections. However, they don't know that clear vaginal discharge is a healthy sign indicating that the vagina is cleaning itself.

However, the color of vaginal discharge can tell you a lot about your health condition. If you have experienced any discharge that is not usual, do not worry. This is your guide to vaginal discharge colors. We'll go through everything from the color, health status, and other symptoms to when you should visit a physician.

What Is Vaginal Discharge?

Before we get into the different colors of vaginal discharge, you should understand what it is. Vaginal discharge is a mixture of cervical mucus, vaginal secretions, and bacteria. It changes color, consistency, and odor throughout your menstrual cycle. The changes are due to the different hormonal levels in your body during each phase of your cycle.

The purpose of vaginal discharge is to clean the vagina and eliminate any dead cells or bacteria. It also keeps the vagina lubricated and protected from infection.

Vaginal discharge changes with age, menstrual cycle, contraception use, and estrogen level. Every woman will experience different vaginal discharge throughout her life, but the excessive or foul-smelling discharge can signify an infection or a disease.

What Does the Color of Vaginal Discharge Indicate?

What Does the Color of Vaginal Discharge Indicate?

Vaginal discharge can be any color, but it is usually clear, white, or off-white. The color of your discharge can change throughout your menstrual cycle. It can also change if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking birth control pills.

If you are not menstruating, any color other than clear, white, or off-white can signify an infection. The following are some of the different shades of vaginal discharge and what they mean:

Clear Discharge

Clear discharge is normal and means that your vagina is healthy. It can be watery or sticky and can have a mild odor. Clear discharge is usually heaviest during ovulation, sexual arousal, and pregnancy.

Still, if you experience excessive vaginal discharge like you would when menstruating, you should seek medical advice. It may be an indication of a condition or infection.

Cream To White Discharge

White discharge is usually not something to be afraid of if the discharge is not accompanied by other symptoms, such as itching, burning, or foul smell. According to the Baby Center article "Vaginal discharge during pregnancy, " this type of discharge is common during pregnancy and breastfeeding." It can also be caused by birth control pills, Douching, and Yeast infection.

Yeast Infection

According to the Office on Women's Health, most women experience vaginal discharge due to yeast infections at least once. A yeast infection causes a thick, mucus-like white discharge that resembles cottage cheese and itching, burning, and redness in the region of the vagina.

Yeast infections are often recurrent in some women and can be challenging to treat. Some factors that may predispose you to yeast infections include pregnancy, the use of birth control pills, and diabetes mellitus that is not under control. According to the above source, women who have gone through menopause are less likely to experience yeast infections.

If you have any problems described above, you must see a doctor since infection may spread and result in more severe health issues if left untreated.

Red To Brown Discharge

Red or brown discharge can be a sign of old blood that is being discharged from the vagina. It is usually nothing to worry about and is likely just a sign that your menstrual cycle is about to start. If you are on your period, you may be interested in The Best Reviewed Menstrual Heating Pads.

However, red or brown discharge can also signify an infection or disease, which is listed below.

Cervical Infection

When it comes to cervical infections, one of the most common symptoms is vaginal discharge. This discharge can be thick, white, and lumpy and often has a strong odor. It can also cause itching and burning sensations in and around the vagina.

When the infection spreads, the discharge becomes more bloody. You will experience menstruation-like bleeding before periods and after sexual intercourse.

In addition to the discharge, other symptoms of a cervical infection can include pain during sex, pelvic pain, and a fever. If you have any of these symptoms, consult a doctor as soon as possible. If left untreated, a cervical infection can lead to more severe health issues like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and even infertility, as stated in an informative article about Cervicitis in John Hopkins Medicine.

Endometrial Cancer

A type of vaginal bleeding that occurs outside your menstrual cycle might indicate endometrial cancer. The bleeding is usually heavy and can accompany other symptoms such as pelvic pain, pain during sex, difficult or painful urination, and abnormal discharge.

It's critical to visit a doctor if you are postmenopausal and have vaginal bleeding, as this might indicate endometrial cancer.

Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterus cancer. It is estimated that about 6,000 women in the United States die from the disease each year.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is another possible cause of vaginal discharge that is not associated with your menstrual cycle. Abnormal vaginal bleeding, watery or bloody discharge, and discomfort during intercourse are all signs of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, and it is estimated that about 342 000 women die from the disease globally each year.

Pink Discharge

Pink vaginal discharge is common during early pregnancy. It is often the result of implantation bleeding when the embryo attaches to the uterine wall in early pregnancy. Implantation bleeding is usually light and may not even be noticed. In some cases, however, it can be heavy enough to cause spotting or even full-blown periods.

If you are experiencing pink vaginal discharge during pregnancy, it is essential to monitor the amount and color of the discharge. If it becomes heavier or changes color, you should contact a health professional immediately, as it may be a sign of infection, ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage. Otherwise, there is usually no need for concern.

You may also experience pink discharge during ovulation. Learn more about ovulation bleeding from The Truth About Ovulation Bleeding.

White to Gray Discharge

White to gray vaginal discharge means that you have bacterial vaginosis, the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age. About 40% to 50% of women who enter for a gynecologic exam for vaginitis have this infection. The main symptom is abnormal vaginal discharge that is watery, white, or grey in color. It may have a fishy smell, but not always. Other symptoms include itching, burning, or redness in the vagina.

Bacterial vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotics. You can also try home remedies like yogurt or tea tree oil, but these have not proven effective. You should consult a doctor as soon as possible if you are pregnant since this illness might lead to preterm labor.

Green To Yellow Discharge

Greenish-yellow or green discharge is usually a sign of trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by a single-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. This infection is more common in women than men and can cause burning, itching, and pain during urination or intercourse. You MUST see a doctor for treatment if you have any symptoms of this infection.

Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that may cause greenish-yellow discharge include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis
  • Herpes 

Getting tested for STIs regularly is critical, even if you don't have any symptoms if you are sexually active. Many STIs, including trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, can cause long-term health problems if they are not treated.

If you believe you have an STD, see a doctor as soon as possible. Do not have sex until you have been evaluated and received treatment if needed.

When Should I See A Doctor?

When Should I See A Doctor? in a post about Vaginal Discharge Colors

Overall, if you experience any kind of discharge that is different from your normal healthy discharge, foul smelling, or accompanied by itching, burning, or pain, you should see a doctor. This is especially true if you have other symptoms like pain during intercourse, difficulty urinating, or fever. Anytime you experience new symptoms or a change in your normal vaginal discharge, it is best to be evaluated by a doctor to rule out any possible infections or other causes.

What If There's No Discharge — Just An Itchy Or Burning Sensation?

A woman covering her groin  in a post about Vaginal Discharge Colors
Vaginal Discharge Colors 840 x 500 1

Suppose you're experiencing vaginal itching or burning without any discharge. In that case, you may have a skin irritation like contact dermatitis (caused by chemicals, soaps, or other irritants), allergic dermatitis (caused by an allergic reaction to something like a new laundry detergent), psoriasis, or even eczema.

As stated in the same article, if you have itching or burning along with a rash, redness, swelling, or blisters, you may have a viral infection like herpes or an autoimmune disorder like lichen sclerosis.

Other causes of itching and burning without discharge include sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like trichomoniasis, chemical irritation from douches or perfumed soaps, and a reaction to vaginal deodorants or powders.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if you're experiencing vaginal pain, itching, or burning, even without a discharge or less vaginal discharge. They'll be able to help figure out the cause and provide relief.

If you're interested in learning more about women's reproductive health, we recommend The Best Books On Women's Reproductive Health.

Conclusion

The color of vaginal discharge can determine the health of your reproductive system. You should seek professional medical advice if you don't have the usual watery discharge, foul odor, or itching and burning.

FAQ

What Does Different Color Discharge Mean?

Different color discharge can mean many things, depending on the specific color. For example, pinkish discharge can signify early pregnancy, while greenish or yellowish discharge can signify an infection. If you're concerned about the meaning of your discharge, it's best to talk to your doctor.

What Is a Healthy Vaginal Discharge?

A healthy vaginal discharge is typically clear or white in color. It may be slightly yellowish, but it shouldn't be any darker than that. The discharge should also be relatively thin and have a mild, pleasant smell. If your discharge is not the same as this, it might be a symptom of an infection or another problem.

References

What Is Vaginal Discharge?

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hsr2.793#:~:text=Vaginal%20discharge%20varies%20with%20age%2C%20menstrual%20cycle%2C%20contraceptive%20use%2C%20and%20estrogen%20level.

https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/your-body/vaginal-discharge-during-pregnancy_270

Cream To White Discharge

https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/vaginal-yeast-infections

Yeast Infection

https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/vaginal-yeast-infections

Cervical Infection

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/cervicitis#:~:text=Cervicitis%20is%20caused,develop%20serious%20complications.

Endometrial Cancer

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/endometrial-cancer#:~:text=Bleeding%20or%20discharge%20not%20related%20to%20your%20periods%20(menstruation)%20%E2%80%94%20over%2090%20percent%20of%20women%20diagnosed%20with%20endometrial%20cancer%20have%20abnormal%20vaginal%20bleeding.

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/endometrial-cancer/about/what-is-endometrial-cancer.html#:~:text=Endometrial%20cancer%20(also%20called%20endometrial%20carcinoma)%20starts%20in%20the%20cells%20of%20the%20inner%20lining%20of%20the%20uterus%20(the%20endometrium).%20This%20is%20the%20most%20common%20type%20of%20cancer%20in%20the%20uterus

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/nursing-and-health-professions/endometrium-cancer#:~:text=Epidemiology,condition%20in%20the%20United%20States.

Cervical Cancer

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cervical-cancer#:~:text=Cervical%20cancer%20is%20the%20fourth%20most%20common%20cancer%20among%20women%20globally%2C%20with%20an%20estimated%20604%20000%20new%20cases%20and%20342%20000%20deaths%20in%202020.%20About%2090%25%20of%20the%20new%20cases%20and%20deaths%20worldwide%20in%202020%20occurred%20in%20low%2D%20and%20middle%2Dincome%20countries%20(1).

Pink Discharge

http://in%20conclusion%2C%20spotting%20or%20light%20bleeding%20episodes%20are%20common%20symptoms%20in%20early%20pregnancy.%20heavy%20bleeding%20is%20much%20less%20common.%20whether%20both%20light%20and%20heavy%20bleeding%20arise%20from%20the%20same%20mechanisms%20or%20have%20different%20etiologies%20is%20an%20important%20question%20for%20future%20research.%20future%20steps%20include%20investigating%20the%20relationship%20between%20bleeding%20episodes%2C%20early%20pregnancy%20biology%2C%20placental%20pathophysiology%2C%20and%20pregnancy%20outcomes./

White to Gray Discharge

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK281/#:~:text=Bacterial%20vaginosis%20will%20be%20the%20diagnosis%20in%2040%20to%2050%25%20of%20women%20presenting%20to%20office%20practices%20with%20vaginitis

Green To Yellow Discharge

https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm#:~:text=In%20the%20United%20States%2C%20CDC%20estimates%20that%20there%20were%20more%20than%20two%20million%20trichomoniasis%20infections%20in%202018.%20However%2C%20only%20about%2030%25%20develop%20any%20symptoms%20of%20trich.%20Infection%20is%20more%20common%20in%20women%20than%20in%20men.%20Older%20women%20are%20more%20likely%20than%20younger%20women%20to%20have%20the%20infection.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK281/#:~:text=As%20with%20all,transmitted%20disease%20clinic).

What If There's No Discharge — Just An Itchy Or Burning Sensation?

https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/itchy-swollen-vag-lips-no-discharge

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