Vaginal Discharge: What’s Normal? 17


vaginal dischargeYou 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.

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17 thoughts on “Vaginal Discharge: What’s Normal?

  • Marisa

    To my comment below my last cycle date was July 20th not August 20th. Sorry for the typo. I also forgot to mention that when using the bathroom some time ago today, there was discharge on the toilet paper, but didn’t seem yellow to me, but I could be wrong.

  • Marisa

    Hi, my name Marisa and I am 29 years old. First, I just want to say that your articles are extremely helpful and informational! I read each of them fully and made myself aware of all the factors. I have pretty normal periods, usually every 27 days. I keep track of everything on my phone through P Tracker Lite APP. My last cycle date was August 20th, well this is where I am confusing myself. On July 20th, I bled, but very light, bled again the following day very light, then bled heavy on Friday the 22nd. Then my period lasted until July 24th. Which was odd to me, because I never had “spotting before any of my periods. I always tend to get sore breasts and fatigure around 2 weeks before my next cycle. Now on August 16th my due date for period, I woke up at 5am and went to the bathroom, when I wiped there was blood (no spotting) so I thought I had my period, so I put a pad on. Though out the day, there was only faint blood (spotting) on the pad, the following day faint blood again (spotting) and yesterday hardly anything. Earlier this morning, Friday the 19th, I had some mild cramps and thought, okay I will most likely get it today, but nothing so far. Now my boobs still hurt, so I thought maybe my cycle is changing or whatever, but I just can’t wrap my head around. I guess I am a little concerned, I went to the bathroom, blood came out as if I had my period, but then faint spotting the rest of that day and the next and then nothing as if I ended? Could this be possible? Is it normal?

    My boyfriend and I have unprotected sex, all the time. Pregnancy can be the factor here and I am not trying to rule it out. I will not lie, I have been under a lot of stress and I considered that as well, just find it odd that as on time and normal as my periods are now it just starts changing.

    Any information will be great, I was going to wait until I was 5 days late to try and see if any other bleeding occurred, but nothing as of today, which is actually 3 days late if not considering the blood/spotting on the 16th.

    • unwirklich admin

      Generally anything that requires a pad and you would call a light flow should be counted as a period. In this case, you could just be having some hormonal imbalance (yes, stress can be a factor there) or yes, pregnancy could also be a possibility. I would keep your plan to wait until 5 days after, test, and if it’s negative keep a log of your bleeding as you’ve been doing. If the bleeding doesn’t normalize in a few months, take your log to a care provider. They can help pinpoint which hormone is causing the irregularity.

  • Tar

    I have a question so I have had clear thick snot like jelly discharge what is that considered as? It can’t be eggwhites or am I wrong. I’m 9 dpo as of today and it’s a lot of it. It not from sex haven’t had sex in 3 days.

    • unwirklich admin

      Your description does sound like ovulation mucus. It’s possible you geared up to ovulate, then didn’t, then did, unless you are basal body temping and confimrmed ovulation. Many women end up with multiple positive OPKs during a cycle.

      • Tar

        Actually I am bbt tempting but the day that it saying I ovulated don’t correspond with my cm of the day before which was Eggw and the day of suppose o date is ceamy but I have had my temp rise for 7 days and then 8 dpo temp drop but Above cover line and 9 dpo today it didn’t rise nor drop

        • unwirklich admin

          Hmmm, I can look at your chart if you have a link, sometimes those calculators can be off. Personally, I feel that temperature is a better indicator than CM. There are many women who have what most would call “watery” discharge all cycle long. Some women will also see discharge that looks sort of jelly-like after a bowel movement or just before their period as well. It really depends on hormone-balance, where for most at least, temperature is more reliable.

          • Tar

            I have checked both my bbt thermometers and they are fine the temp changes once I Get up and about so it’s not stuck. I don’t have the thick jelly cm anymore. Now it’s really rhixk and white like school glue.

          • unwirklich admin

            You might try temping from a little earlier in your cycle, some women get a lot of ups and downs which can easily confuse the app’s O calculation. I am not sure why you ended up with fertile CM at DPO 9 though, the gear-up to O then didn’t was my best guess, but that doesn’t look right from the chart. I suppose the best you can do is call it a fluke and wait to see if your period comes. ATM you are well above your cover line at least 🙂

          • Tar

            Yes that’s the only thing that has me hopeful I’m not at coverline . and the fact that I had plenty of sex this month since my o date looks off but that was the first time ever that I have seen any cm that is clear like jelly and thick.

          • unwirklich admin

            You don’t normally see it at ovulation? Have you made any lifestyle changes or started any supplements? Hormonal shifts are usually to blame for discharge changes.

          • Tar

            I was thing that with my chart having three flat temps that maybe my hormones we’re becoming steady.

          • unwirklich admin

            Flat lines actually are considered abnormal, most people get a bit of flux at the least. It could be a thermometer issue, but if you are using two to verify that seems unlikely.

  • A

    Good Evening.
    I was reading through your other post about normal or abnormal periods and you’ve stated many times to people that brown or clotted periods are fine. The thing I’m still worried about is the fact that I’ve never had a “normal” period. I have always gotten dark brown/black periods and I cant seem to figure out why. I thought more exercise would help to “get it going” but that had little to no affect. I have had many clots which have varied in size and shapes.
    I am 18 and have been experiencing this for around 7 years. I have been sexually active for the past four years but the same person the entire time. I have also been on the pill and now have the implanon NXT and neither of these have made a difference.
    Any suggestions or explanations would be much appreciated. Thanks- A

    • unwirklich admin

      That is a bit weird, usually the pill is actually prescribed for heavy periods (which I assume you have) because it helps balance the hormones and creates more regular periods. Often women with heavy periods also have a long cycle, and that’s why they bleed heavier and end up with clots and discoloration. I would speak with your prescriber, you might just respond better to a different BC or there may be an underlying cause for the heavy bleeding that the hormone-control can’t fix, such as uterine irregularities. Even so, if you aren’t trying to conceive I wouldn’t say heavy periods are really anything to worry about, albeit annoying, an iron pill may help avoid any possible anemia symptoms from the blood loss each month. Some women do also find that lightens their period.