Why Vaginal Discharge Happens
There are various reasons why you might experience vaginal discharge. Some of them include:
- Period related
- Pregnancy, or miscarriage
- Yeast Infection
- Bacterial Vaginosis
Keep on reading for the full details about vaginal discharge, including the various colours and what they mean.
Let’s Talk about Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal Discharge Colours, and What they Mean
#1: Clear + Stretchy Discharge
- Looks like mucous instead of water
- A sign that you could be ovulating (releasing an egg)
- Healthy + normal, nothing to worry about
You can learn more about this here: Clear and Watery Vaginal Discharge.
#2: Brown or Bloody Discharge
- Could be normal, if at the end of a period. It will look more brown in this case
- Possibly spotting between periods, which isn’t something to worry about
- Spotting at the normal period time could indicate pregnancy
- Spotting during early pregnancy can be a sign of a miscarriage
- If postmenopausal, it could be a sign of cancer
Please check with you doctor if you suspect you are pregnant, have had a miscarriage, or something just isn’t quite right with your discharge because it might be a sign of cancer.
Learn more here: Brown Discharge After Periods.
Do you have brown discharge that is also clumpy and itching or burning? You can learn more about that here:
“Brown vaginal discharge” can actually appear to be more black than brown. Although it’s less common, it does indeed happen. Find out more here: I Have Black Discharge.
#3: Yellow Discharge
Yellow discharge is often not something to really worry about.
- Sometimes normal
- Abnormal if thick, chunky, or has a bad smell
- Could be an indication of Trichomoniasis, Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea
See your doctor if you see thick or chunky yellow discharge, or if it has a bad smell.
It may also happen during pregnancy. Learn more about yellow discharge during pregnancy here.
#4: Green Discharge
- Usually suggests an infection, and it can have, or not have an odour associated with it.
See your doctor for treatment as these STI’s can often lead to something much more serious. Learn more here:
#5: Thick, White + Cheesy
- Indicates a yeast infection (also swelling, pain, and itchiness around the vulva)
See your doctor for treatment
#6: White, Grey or Yellow with a Fishy Odour
- Indicates Bacterial Vaginosis (also itchiness, burning, swelling, and redness around the vulva)
See your doctor for treatment if you have a smelly vaginal discharge.
#7: White Discharge Before my Period
- Indicates a spike in progesterone during the Luteal phase of your menstrual cycle.
Milky, white discharge is quite normal during the days leading up to menstruation. This is because of a spike in progesterone after the egg is released. You can learn more about it here:
#8: Milky, White Discharge
If you have milky, white discharge that doesn’t have a smell, or a cottage cheese like consistency, it’s usually just a normal part of the menstrual cycle.
You can learn more about it here: Milky, White Discharge
Is Vaginal Discharge Sometimes Good?
As you can see from the above details about the various colours of vaginal discharge, not all of them are bad.
The first one, clear and stretchy is just a sign that you’re ovulating, which is a normal bodily function.
Brown or bloody, particularly at the end of your period is also nothing to worry about.
But for the other ones? It can definitely be a sign of infection, or some other more serious problem. Check with a medical professional instead of relying on self-diagnosis. This usually doesn’t go well!
What Age Does Discharge Start?
A common question is what age vaginal discharge starts at. In general, it starts around 6 months to a year before a girl gets her first period. So, around age 10 or 11 would be quite normal to see the first signs of discharge. However, it doesn’t happen for everyone.
And, it can also happen earlier than that because of poor toilet hygiene, objects inserted into the vagina and left there, etc.
More information about it here: When Does Vaginal Discharge Start?
I have Vaginal Discharge Every Day
If you have discharge almost every single day, it could be a problem, or it might not be. Sometimes it can be the bodies way to keep the vagina clean and healthy.
However, it could also indicate a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, an STI or some other thing going on. You can learn more about it here:
How to Deal With Vaginal Discharge
Okay, so you’ve got some vaginal discharge going on. You put on a fresh pair of underwear, but they become wet from discharge in minutes. So you put on a new pair, which obviously creates a ton of laundry.
Or, if you’re not at home, you might just suffer all day with a slightly wet feeling “down there.” You might be worried about the smell too, depending on what kind of discharge that you have.
Vaginal Discharge Solution: Pantyliners
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Of course, you should figure out what’s causing vaginal discharge and work with your doctor to address the problem.
But in the meantime, you could use pantyliners to prevent your underwear from getting wet and sticky all the time. It’s far easier to change them out, then it is a pair of underwear.
The first option you have are reusable cloth pantyliners. They have a lot of advantages over disposables. Cloth panty liners are eco-friendly, cheaper over the long-term, and also contain no toxins or harmful chemicals.
Just about the only negative to them are that you have to deal with soiled ones when you’re not at home. At home, you just throw them in with your regular laundry. But, away from home, you can store them in a wet bag and most people find that it’s not such a big deal.
For more details, check out: Top 5 Reusable Cloth Pantyliners.
The next option you have are disposable panty liners. They are more convenient than cloth pantyliners because you don’t have to wash them, or figure out what to do with them when you’re not at home.
However, non-organic ones often contain trace amounts of toxic chemicals from the manufacturing process, as well as the pesticides used to grow the cotton.
That’s why we recommend going organic. You can check out our top picks here: Top 5 Best Organic Panty Liners.
Disposable vs. Cloth Pantyliners
Can’t decide between the two? Check out: Cloth Panty Liners vs. Disposable Pantyliners for more details.
Can I Use a Tampon for Vaginal Discharge?
It’s NOT recommended that you use a tampon at any time other than when you have your period. This is due to the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
This is a rare, but very serious condition and you’re at risk of it any time you insert a foreign object into your body. However, when you consider the total number of tampon users, the overall risk is quite low, especially if you take the following precautions:
- Not using tampons when you’re not on your period
- Changing tampons frequently (absolute max is 8 hours)
- Using the lowest absorbency level possible. If you have a very light flow, use a mini tampon
Can you use tampons for vaginal discharge? It’s certainly not recommended by us, or by any tampon manufacturer. However, check with your doctor for details about your individual situation.
Can I Use a Menstrual Cup for Discharge?
Another common question is whether or not you can use a menstrual cup for discharge. Although they do come with a lower risk of TSS than tampons (only one reported case to date), there is still a risk and it’s mainly for this reason that we don’t recommend using a cup when you don’t have your period.
Another reason to not use a menstrual cup all the time is because it puts pressure on your vaginal canal walls. Menstrual cups are quite big and stiff and they push against the walls of your vagina.
It’s fine for a few days during your period, but let your body go back to its normal state the rest of the time! Again, you could check with your doctor for advice specific to your situation.
In general, for discharge, stick with the external options like pads or period panties.
Vaginal Discharge: Have your Say!
Do you have any questions about vaginal discharge that you want answered? Ask them here!
Or, what is your best tip for dealing with it? Pantyliners or something else?
Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.