What is Vaginal Discharge?

Vaginal discharge is a fluid expelled from a woman’s body to eliminate undesirable cells and fluids, and it varies in different women. Its appearance depends on hormones, infections, menstrual cycle, and pregnancy status.

Vaginal discharge that is physiologically normal is clear in appearance or has milky white colour. It can also have a mild, characteristic odour. Color, texture and odour fluctuate with the fluctuating menstrual cycle. 

Types of Vaginal Discharge

Different type of discharge varies and is indicative of normal and abnormal conditions.

Type of Discharge 

What does it say?

White discharge

  • 1. Indicate healthy discharge
  • 2. It might indicate a yeast infection

Clear and watery

  • 1. Healthy discharge
  • 2. Type of discharge after heavy exercise
  • 3. Time of pregnancy
  • 4. Hormonal imbalance


Clear and stretchy

Ovulation time in women’s menstrual cycle

Brown or bloody

  • 1. Brown-colored discharge occurs just after periods indicating old blood
  • 2. Bloody discharge indicates menstrual discharge 
  • 3. It may even indicate cervical or endometrial cancer

Yellow or green

Indicative of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections)


Gray-colored discharge indicate bacterial vaginosis (BV)


  • 1. Pink-colored vaginal discharge indicate:
  • 2. Irritation in vagina
  • 3. Bleeding in cervix

Causes of Vaginal Discharge

Normal vaginal discharge occurs due to estrogen level alterations. There may be changes in the amount of discharge because of ovulation time, pregnancy, sexual arousal, and certain medications (for example- birth control medicines). 

Abnormal vaginal discharge may occur due to numerous reasons:

  • 1. Yeast infectionbacterial vaginosis
  • 2. Genital herpes
  • 3. Mmenopause
  • 4. Sexually transmitted infections
  • 5. Cervical cancer
  • 6. Pregnancy
  • 7. Tampon retention
  • 8. Vaginitis
  • 9. Gonorrhea 

Symptoms of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

  • 1. Abnormal bleeding from vagina
  • 2. Pelvic pain
  • 3. Pain 
  • 4. Itching
  • 5. Urinary incontinence
  • 6. Swelling in around vagina and vulva
  • 7. Burning sensation
  • 8. Painful intercourse

How is Abnormal Vaginal Discharge Diagnosed?

Pelvic examination –  The doctor examines the cervix and vagina for any abnormality or pain after putting pressure.

Wet amount – vaginal discharge sample is taken to test for various infections like yeast, bacteria, or fungal.

Test for STDs – Different sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea and chlamydia alter the vaginal discharge 

pH test –  The level of acidity and basicity is tested to look for any abnormality in the vaginal discharge.

Abnormal Vaginal Discharge Treatment

Different treatments for abnormal vaginal discharge

  • 1. Yeast infections are treated with antifungal medications including anti-fungal cream or gel.
  • 2. Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with antibiotic medications -topical or oral.
  • 3. Corticosteroids to relieve itching include hydrocortisone and oral antihistamines.
  • 4. Estrogen-containing vaginal creams help in vaginitis because of menopause.

Complications of abnormal vaginal Discharge

Abnormalities of vaginal discharge may lead to certain complications:

  • 1. Untreated vaginal discharge may spread to other organs of the reproductive tract. 
  • 2. Retention of foreign objects like tampons may become toxic and create unhygienic conditions.
  • 3. Infected vaginal discharge may lead to the accumulation of disease-causing bacteria and other harmful microbes.

How do Doctors Look for an Abnormality in Vaginal Discharge?

  • 1. Doctors can make the diagnosis of abnormal vaginal discharge as they ask for the medical history of the patient.
  • 2. The color of the vaginal discharge 
  • 3. When did the discharge begin coming
  • 4. What is the odor
  • 5. If there is itching or burning sensation
  • 6. About sexual partner

Frequently Asked Questions

What is normal vaginal discharge?

Normal vaginal discharge is white and clear in appearance. The thickness may vary with the menstrual cycle phase. It has a normal smell without any foul odour. 

What does the color of discharge mean?

The Colour of discharge indicates different conditions like

Pink, brown, and red vaginal 

  • 1. Early bleeding
  • 2. Cervical polyps
  • 3. Yeast infection
  • 4. Bacterial vaginosis
  • 5. Trichomoniasis
  • 6. Cervical cancer

Gray discharge means

  • 1. Trichomoniasis 
  • 2. Bacterial vaginosis

Green or yellow colored vaginal discharge:

  • 1. STI like gonorrhea
  • 2. Bacterial vaginosis

Is it normal for a woman to have a discharge every day?

Yes, it is normal to have a vaginal discharge that is colourless or a little white-coloured and odourless. 

Can stress cause vaginal discharge?

Yes, stress causes an increase in vaginal discharge. Women mostly complain of increased frequency of normal discharge while they are stressed. Changes in the normal hormonal levels during stress cause the increased vaginal discharge.

What color is female wetness?

Vaginal wetness is opaque and white in colour. 

What does white-creamy discharge mean?

Creamy white discharge occurs during ovulation. It indicates that a woman is fertile and helps women who want to get pregnant to know the exact time.

What does yeast-infected discharge look like?

The vaginal discharge that is infected with yeast is white and has thick consistency. Yeast infected discharge is like cottage cheese and may or may not have characteristic foul smell.

What does STD discharge look like?

The vaginal discharge infected with yeast is white and has a thick consistency. Yeast infected discharge is like cottage cheese and may or may not have a characteristic foul smell.

How can you tell the difference between a yeast infection and bacteria infected discharge?

Vaginal discharge infected with yeast is white and thick in consistency without a foul smell.

Bacterial infected vaginal discharge is yellow or even grey colour with a very foul smell.

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