You’ve always wondered—and now we have answers. Here is your guide to what is considered normal, and what is not.
Discharge is just a fact of life for most women. But the color, odor, and consistency of vaginal discharge is not exactly a popular topic of conversation. In fact, it is a topic that many women would rather avoid altogether, even in medical settings. But at The Woman’s Clinic, we know that discharge is more than just normal; it is also an important way for your body to clean itself and deliver crucial information.
To be proactive about your health, you should know what kind of vaginal discharge is normal and what kind is not. Here are some of the most common types of vaginal discharge, and what they could say about your body:
Thick and white: normal as your period starts and ends
Essentially, vaginal discharge is a combination of water, bacteria, and dead cells from the lining of your vaginal walls. During puberty, your vagina begins expelling these dead cells, which are more plentiful as your body experiences hormonal changes. Even if your vaginal discharge is usually more clear than white, you may notice thicker, whiter discharge toward the beginning and end of your period.
Clear and watery: normal during certain times
While dramatic changes in consistency are a good reason to contact your gynecologist, some fluctuations in the thickness and whiteness of vaginal discharge are actually pretty normal. Vaginal discharge thickens before and after menstruation, but it also gets more watery and clear during other times of the month. You may also notice clear, watery vaginal discharge after heavy exercise.
Brown discharge: normal right after your period
It is easy to connect the dots when your discharge “turns red” during a period, or when you notice periodic pink or red spotting during ovulation. Blood is red, after all! But what if your discharge is brown? Fortunately, the answer is usually the same: blood. This is just evidence of old, dried blood that your body is still “cleaning out” after a period.
Odorless or mild odor: usually normal
Healthy vaginal discharge is usually odorless or nearly odorless, but the vagina itself may produce mild odors throughout the day.
Your reproductive system has complex ways of cleaning and balancing itself, so if your discharge has a mild odor, you probably do not have a reason to worry. Try to limit your own deodorizing efforts to regular showers and ventilating underwear, rather than throwing off your vaginal balance with douches or other products that may cause adverse reactions.
Itchy and thicker: not normal
Itching is always a red flag. If your vaginal discharge has recently gotten thicker or whiter, and you are also experiencing uncomfortable, chronic vaginal itching, you may have a yeast infection or another form of infection that needs to be treated. Vaginal discharge accompanied by itching is not normal.
Yellow or green: not normal
Vaginal discharge should be white. If you are menstruating, ovulating, or pregnant, you may have some red or brown in your discharge, due to blood and tissue. However, there is never a good reason to have yellow or green in your discharge. These colors indicate that your body is fighting an infection. Regular STD testing is important for any sexually active person, but it is especially a good idea if you have yellow or green vaginal discharge.
Awareness of your bodily fluids is crucial for your overall health. When you know what kind of vaginal discharge is normal, you also know how to spot changes as they occur, making it easier to treat or prevent complications. Annual gynecological exams are important for the same reason.
Whether you want to know what kind of vaginal discharge is normal or not normal, or you are just behind on your checkups, make sure your gynecologist is up-to-date on your health. Contact the Woman’s Clinic today to schedule an appointment with a Little Rock gynecologist by calling 501-664-4131.