Milky white or clear vaginal discharge is totally healthy and natural. It helps clean the vagina, washing down dead cells and microbes. The secretion is produced by the cervix, located at the top of the inner vagina. If you see an increase in the discharge, when you are sexually aroused or after exercise, this is no reason for worry.

Depending on the time within the menstrual cycle, the scope, smell and color of the discharge may change a bit.

The odor may change during the pregnancy or when the woman has not been keeping up the hygiene around the vaginal area.

Whenever there are significant changes to the secretion in terms of the amount, texture, odor or color, this is a sign of either an outbreak in infection or yeast. In this case, the woman is strongly advised to consult a doctor. Only a trained medical specialist can deliver a final diagnosis after a microscope analysis has been completed, if it’s ordered. Any accompanying abnormalities would also point to an infection of some sort being present. These may include itching and swelling of the vagina, as well as burning or painful sensations during urination or sexual intercourse.

Is White Vaginal Discharge Normal?

In most cases, white-colored vaginal secretion is healthy and normal. The creamy and white discharge is usually produced during the ovulation period.

In some cases, the creamy vaginal discharge may occur during the early pregnancy.

Whenever there is a clumpy discharge that is similar to the cottage cheese and has a distinctly foul odor, this is a clear sign of a possible vaginal infection and heeds a visit to the doctor.

Three Most Common Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

An abnormality in the discharge texture, color or odor is usually caused by an infection. It points to the occurrence of some circumstances that act to disrupt the microflora balance within the vagina.

These are the most common causes of the abnormal vaginal discharge:

  • Yeast infection
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Yeast Infection

In the natural course of things, there is a balance of various microorganisms habituating within the vagina, including various types of yeast and bacteria. Whenever the yeast has an outbreak and starts replicating very fast, this results in a cottage-cheese-looking formation, couple with swelling and itching of the vagina. Even when no sensations of the same sort occur, the woman is strongly advised to consult a doctor.

The yeast infections are treated with antifungal medicines.

Bacterial Vaginosis

This condition means an outbreak in bacteria inside the vagina. It is not caused by a sexually transmitted disease and occurs when an intricate balance in the amount of bacteria has been breached.

The discharge can have foul or fish odor, as well as white or grey color.

Generally, no itching or swelling accompanies.

The bacterial vaginosis is commonly treated with antibiotics.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Unprotected sexual or genital contacts can result in passing of an STD (sexually transmitted disease). Even rubbing of infected genital skin against uninfected genital skin may be enough for a microbe-born or virus-caused STD to transmit.

There is a number of most common STDs that typical result in the occurrence of an abnormal discharge:

In addition, various other less common STDs can provoke an abnormality of genital secretion. Each individual type of germs heeds for a particular treatment course.

Other Causes of Abnormal Discharge

In addition to the three above-specified causes, the unusual vaginal secretion was be caused by:

  • Use of contraceptives and various birth control medicines
  • Use of douches, lotions with scents
  • Diabetes
  • Vaginitis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Use of antibiotics or steroids

Break-Down of Abnormal Discharge by Color and Type

Below you can find a clear-cut table that specifies the color, possible cause and accompanying symptoms. Looking through the concurrent signs helps cross check and arrive at a preliminary conclusion. However, whenever experiencing irritation in the vaginal area and an abnormality in discharge, a doctor check-up is fully justified.

Color and type of discharge Possible cause Accompanying symptoms
Brown and brownish discharge Irregular menstrual cycles, endometrial or cervical cancer Pain around the pelvic area, vaginal bleeding between periods
Creamy and clumpy discharge of white or deep white color Yeast infection Pain during sexual intercourse, swelling and itching of the vagina
Yellow color STDs (Trichomoniasis, chlamydia or gonorrhea) Painful or burning sensation during urination; urinary incontinence; pelvic pain; bleeding between periods; itching or swelling; inflammation
Green color STDs (Trichomoniasis, chlamydia or gonorrhea) Painful or burning sensation during urination; urinary incontinence; pelvic pain; bleeding between periods; itching or swelling; inflammation
Foul smell Bacterial vaginosis, trichonomiasis Burning sensation; swelling; redness; painful sensation during urination
Pink color Cervical or endometrial cancer, vaginal infections, cervical erosion Swelling, painful sensation, fever, itching feeling
Orange color Vaginal infections Cramps, burning sensation, itching of the vagina

Treatment Options for Abnormal Discharge

If you have seen any symptoms that point to a possible vaginal infection, the visit to your doctor is the only right course of action. Although each type of infection has a distinct set of symptoms, you should never try to self-diagnose and cure the disease yourself. The infections can overlap and they might have already caused some lasting damage to your body, requiring some additional actions to be taken. Only a  duly trained medical specialist will be able to determine the cause and then the right course of treatment, if any needed.

During to visit to your doctor, you can expect to be asked a number of questions that can be a bit embarrassing. You should provide only the honest answers since this is so important for your health and wellbeing. The nurse or a doctor will ask you about the odor, color and texture of the discharge, your sexual life and existence of any unusual sensations or pains in your body.

The doctor will carry out the external and internal examinations. If this is not sufficient to determine the cause of the abnormality you are experiencing, a number of tests will be ordered, including scrapes from the cervix and others. The microscope check might be required in order to deliver a verified answer as to the type of the culprit.

As soon as the diagnose has been delivered, you will be offered the treatment options.

The treatment depends on the type of infection or ailment you face. Yeast infection is usually treated with a cream or gel that is applied internally, while bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotics pills. The STDs are fought off with antibiotics injections.

In order to prevent any STDs and abnormal discharges, keep to the following routine:

  • Make sure that the vaginal area is regularly cleaned by a wash with warm water and gentle soap.
  • Avoid douches.
  • Avoid baths with shampoos and similar products, scented soaps and flavored tampons.
  • Use protection during the sexual coitus to prevent a transmission of STDs.
  • Wear 100% cotton underwear that is breathable. Do not wear damp or excessively tight clothing.

In order to mitigate a yeast break-out that might occur due to the antibiotics usage, you should try to eat yogurt that has live and active cultures. In addition, there is a wide array of various over-the-counter creams or suppository products that can help you get rid of the yeast infestation quickly.

FAQ: Vaginal Discharge

What is the recommended course of action in case of abnormal discharge?

The fact that you have a vaginal discharge is totally normal, as it’s your body’s inbuilt mechanism to clean the internal vagina.

However, whenever you see an unusual discharge which is either clumpy, strange-colored and foul-smelling, or some combination of the same, this is a cue for you to visit a doctor. Surely, you can find some DIY products, advertised as being the thing that you just need, but only the medical specialist can determine the cause of the abnormal secretion that you have. And to fight off the infection, you fight need to figure out who the culprit is.

The doctor will take a pap smear, have a visual examination and might arrange for some tests to be run. After the cause has been identified, you will be offered a number of possible treatments.

Should I see a doctor if I have an excessive amount of vaginal discharge?

The amounts of vaginal discharge can vary depending on the time during the menstrual cycle and can also be caused by some other factors, such as early pregnancy or exercise, sexual arousal or ovulation, breastfeeding or emotional stress.

The rule of the thumb is to try and determine the cause of the increase in the secretion and look for additional calls for alarm (for instance, pains, odd odor, strange color).

If you believe that the vaginal discharge is abnormal, be on the safe side and visit your doctor. Nobody’s going to accuse you of being an alarmist. Keeping the delicate balance of the microflora within the vagina is a tricky business. The doctor might help you with figuring out some semi-preventive solutions, such as natural-herb immunity-boosting drink, eating more yoghurt or using some products to keep the yeast at bay (when it’s at fault).

What’s the difference between normal and abnormal vaginal discharge?

The production of the vaginal secretion is totally normal and this is here to stay. It’s normal, until it’s not. If you believe that the balance of the microflora in the vagina has been taken down, look for other symptoms that might point to a possible infection. If any odd odor or strange color is present, this is a definite call for a doctor visit. Painful or irritating sensation are too.

If you see an increase in vaginal discharge after exercise, when being sexually aroused or during the ovulation, this is totally normal.

The abnormal discharge will never “sync it” with exercising, being aroused or ovulating.