Vaginal discharge is most often a normal and regular occurrence. However, there are certain types of discharge that can indicate an infection. Abnormal discharge may be yellow or green, chunky in consistency, or foul smelling.
Yeast or a bacterial infection usually causes abnormal discharge. If you notice any discharge that looks unusual or smells foul, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Types of vaginal discharge
There are several different types of vaginal discharge. These types are categorized based on their color and consistency. Some types of discharge are normal. Others may indicate an underlying condition that requires treatment.
A bit of white discharge, especially at the beginning or end of your menstrual cycle, is normal. However, if the discharge is accompanied by itching and has a thick, cottage cheese-like consistency or appearance, it’s not normal and needs treatment. This type of discharge may be a sign of a yeast infection.
Clear and watery
A clear and watery discharge is perfectly normal. It can occur at any time of the month. It may be especially heavy after exercise.
Clear and stretchy
When discharge is clear but stretchy and mucous-like, rather than watery, it indicates that you are likely ovulating. This is a normal type of discharge.
Brown or Bloody
Brown or bloody discharge is usually normal, especially when it occurs during or right after your menstrual cycle. A late discharge at the end of your period can look brown instead of red. You may also experience a small amount of bloody discharge between periods. This is called spotting.
If spotting occurs during the normal time of your period and you’ve recently had sex without protection, this could be a sign of pregnancy. Spotting during an early phase of pregnancy can be a sign of miscarriage, so it should be discussed with your OB-GYN.
In rare cases, brown or bloody discharge can be a sign of endometrial or cervical cancer. It could be other problems such as fibroids or other abnormal growths. This is why it’s important to get a yearly pelvic exam and Pap smear. Your gynecologist will check for cervical abnormalities during these procedures.
Yellow or Green
A yellow or green discharge, especially when it’s thick, chunky, or accompanied by an unpleasant smell, isn’t normal. This type of discharge may be a sign of the infection trichomoniasis. It’s commonly spread through sexual intercourse.