You know, if this whole online writing thing has taught me anything, it’s that the topics people appreciate and search for the most are the ones that land full-fledged in the too-much-information category. They’re the topics people don’t just go chatting to friends about—like vaginal discharge. Lots of women wonder about vaginal discharge color, weird textures, and other changes and it seems with topics like those it’s hard to find a straight-forward answer online, so much like my post on period blood colors and textures, I choose to write one on vaginal discharge. All the information here was obtained via research, conversations with an actual gynecologist, and TMI-conversations with real women like yourself.
First question, what is vaginal discharge and what does it do?
Colors, textures and changes in vaginal discharge are easier to understand if you understand what exactly vaginal discharge is. Vaginal discharge is sort of like… the snot of the vagina. I know, that sounds sort of horrible, but is serves the same purpose. Discharge is made up of skin cells, vaginal secretions, bacteria, and cervical mucus and works to keep the vagina clean and moist to prevent infection. It does also present some reproductive purpose obviously, hence you’ll notice more discharge while fertile or sexually excited. The balance of these components as well as hormonal changes to mucus and secretions can alter the appearance of vaginal discharge in both color and texture as well as change the smell and quantity.
Normal vaginal discharge:
Normal discharge will vary in color, consistency and quantity depending on where in your cycle you are. For example, just after your period you may notice brownish, yellow, orange or pink discharge as a result of remaining blood from your period. A few days after your period has ended, you’ll likely see less discharge, if any at all, but it may seem thick and sticky. Discharge at this stage is often white or yellowish. Towards the middle of your cycle, when you ovulate, you’ll notice discharge becomes steadily more plentiful, slippery and becomes clear before turning to a thick, almost snot-like egg texture. This egg-white like discharge is a sign of peak fertility. After ovulation this discharge slowly dissipates for some (others continue to see clear discharge until their period) and goes back to being scant and sticky or not present at all. You may notice an increase in discharge just before your period as well. Normal discharge does have a slight odor, but it should not be described as foul.
Abnormal vaginal discharge:
Grey, yellow, very thick white, or brown discharge which is usually accompanied by a foul scent, itching, or burning is typically a sign of infection and should be evaluated by a doctor. This could be as commonplace as a yeast infection, so don’t make the assumption that if you haven’t had sex, you can’t have vaginal problems.
I hope that this quick explanation of vaginal discharge has proved helpful. As this is a parenting website, you can find a slightly more in-depth breakdown of color and consistency meanings in our pregnancy discharge post.