Do you know how to tell what’s going on in your vagina? Vaginal discharge can often help you know if your vagina is healthy or if there’s something going on that you should be concerned about.
Vaginal discharge is a normal function of your vagina. Glands inside the vagina create fluid that helps clean it out by carrying away dead cells and bacteria. This is one way your body helps fight vaginal infections.
What is normal discharge?
Normal vaginal discharge changes as you go through your monthly cycle. Normal differences include:
• The color may vary from clear to milky white. It may also look white or pale yellow if it dries on your underwear.
• The odor may vary from no smell to a mild odor, especially if you are pregnant or have not bathed thoroughly.
• The amount of discharge may vary from not much at all to enough to make your underwear wet. If you are ovulating, breastfeeding or feeling aroused, you may have more vaginal discharge.
• The consistency may vary from thin to sticky to thick to gooey.
Your normal discharge may also change at different stages in your life. Most women have more discharge that is thicker when they are pregnant. Some types of birth control can also affect your discharge. And many women have thicker discharge as they go through menopause.
What is abnormal discharge?
Abnormal changes in your vaginal discharge may be a sign that you have a vaginal infection or other health concern.
If your discharge has one or more of these changes, you should get it checked by your doctor:
• Green or grey color
• Cloudy or very yellow
• Very smelly, perhaps with a fishy odor
• Thick or similar to cottage cheese
• Bloody or brown when it’s not time for your period
Depending on the reason for the change to your discharge, you may also have itching in your genital area.
What causes abnormal discharge?
A variety of things can cause changes in your vaginal discharge:
• Vaginal discharge contains a lot of water.