Vaginal Discharge: What’s Normal?

Many women wonder about vaginal discharge color, weird textures, and other changes. What’s normal? What’s not normal? Why do you even have vaginal discharge? Can you get rid of it? Are all pretty common questions that just aren’t talked about very often, much like most women’s health topics. We’ve designed this page to offer a rough overview of vaginal discharge to, much like our page on period blood colors and textures, hopefully ease your wonder.

First question, what is vaginal discharge? What does it do?

Color, texture, and other 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 it serves the same purpose. It 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.

Discharge is made up of skin cells, vaginal secretions, bacteria, and cervical mucus. 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, stretchy, 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. It then 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 care provider. 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 infections.

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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