Normal Vaginal Discharge, Color, Smell, Causes, Meaning, When to See a Doctor

How does normal vaginal discharge look and smell like? All this are discussed below in details. We will also look at causes of vaginal discharge, reasons and when to see a doctor. Vaginal discharge is a very important fluid that oversees the general health of a vagina. Its prime time begins when a woman hits puberty to the time she gets into menopause.

Is vaginal discharge normal?

Yes, vaginal discharge is absolutely normal and is a very important component of the vagina. It cleanses the vagina and keeps it rejuvenated all the time.

Normal vaginal discharge should be up to Four Milliliters A day
Normal vaginal discharge should be up to Four Milliliters A day

Is it normal to have vaginal discharge every day?

An average woman gets vaginal discharge every day until they hit menopause. In fact you should be very worried if you are a woman of child bearing age and you get vaginal discharge every day. Vaginal discharge cleanses your vagina every day and washes off dead cells. Vaginal dryness causes a lot of discomfort; especially if you want to engage in sexual intercourse .It can affect your sex life.

How much vaginal discharge is normal?

The standard amount of vaginal discharge that a woman should produce in a day is four millimeters. If you produce more or less then you are likely having a vaginal infection or any other complication. It is important to consult your gynecologist.

Your vaginal discharge should not get to a point where it soils your clothes but at the same time you should not have a dry vagina if you still in the bracket of child bearing age.

Most sexually transmitted diseases can lead to increase in the volume of vaginal discharge that comes out of your vagina. The increase in column can be accompanied by other symptoms like a foul smell or change in color.

However, the amount of vaginal discharge increase ovulation and becomes watery. This should last for a day or two only. Anything past that should get you worrying.

What color is normal vaginal discharge?

The color of vaginal discharge varies from milky white to egg white depending on the stage of your menstrual cycle that you are in. Vaginal discharge is always white before periods and turn into clear white or egg white during the onset of ovulation. If you are trying to get pregnant then you should keep trying mating with your partner every time you observe this clear discharge.

Any other color apart from white or clear is considered abnormal. Sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, yeast infection or vaginal infection will give your vaginal discharge a different color like green, brown, yellow or grey.

What does normal vaginal discharge look like?

Normal vaginal discharge is milky white but it changes to an egg white consistency when ovulation is approaching. Then it will turn back to white after ovulation phase is over.

Just before the onset of ovulation, the level of estrogen rises and causes the production of this egg white discharge by the cervix. This type of discharge can stretch up to 5 cm in between two fingers. It’s springy and stretchy nature is ideal for sperms to swim into the cervix and finally get to the fallopian tube with no difficulties and fertilize an ovum.

Vaginal discharge that is lumpy, frothy or has got a cottage-cheese like texture is a sign of infection. Ensure you visit your gynecologist for proper diagnosis .You doctor will advise you on the best treatment.

Normal vaginal discharge smell

Normal vaginal discharge has got a very faint smell that is no cause for alarm. You hardly feel this smell unless you smell your discharge in you panty. Normal vaginal discharge may also change its smell immediately after period. It will have a metallic smell for a day or two after your period.

Any vaginal discharge that exhibits a strong odd smell is not a normal vaginal discharge. Discharge that has a fishy smell is a sign and symptom of a bacterial infection called bacterial vaginosis or sexually transmitted diseases like trichomoniasis.

A rotten smell coming out of the vagina could mean that you have forgotten a tampon in your vagina and it has begun to rot. Other vaginal infection like yeast infection usually bears no smell, and if it does it will smell like bread.

If you sweat a lot then your discharge may have a stronger musky scent and flow more because it becomes more watery.

Normal vaginal discharge
Normal vaginal discharge

Normal vaginal discharge on underwear

Normal vaginal discharge does not flow much. It should be 4 milliliters a day. This discharge will stain your underwear. Abnormal vagina discharge will soak your underwear wet. Whenever, you are experiencing an increase in the volume of your vaginal discharge then you need to observe good hygiene.

Wear panty liners on your panty in order to prevent the discharge from soiling your underwear and clothe. Ensure you change those panty liners as soon as it gets damp. If you live it on for long, it will encourage the overgrowth of yeast or bad bacteria and lead to an infection. Which is clearly something you do not want to live with? Prevention is always better than cure.

Normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy

During pregnancy, the hormonal balance shifts and this changes the color and volume of vaginal discharge. These changes depend on the stage of pregnancy.  In the first trimester during early pregnancy, the vaginal discharge is always thick and white but may also be yellow. Normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy is called Leukorrhea and it increases as the pregnancy grows.

For some women, spotting may occur due to implantation bleeding and stain this discharge. The stained discharge will turn into color brown or pink depending on how long ago the blood was shed.

According to Mayo clinic, “Implantation bleeding is thought to happen when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. Implantation bleeding usually occur around the time you would expect to have, menstrual period. However, Implantation bleeding is lighter than menstrual bleeding. Some women don’t experience implantation bleeding and other don’t notice it “.

As the levels of estrogen increase, the amount of mucus in the vaginal discharge increases too and it becomes clear, watery or with an egg like consistency. This kind of discharge is usually produced in more volumes than usual. It cleanses the vagina and acts as a mucus plug that prevents harmful microorganism from finding their way up the cervix into the uterus.

As the pregnancy advances to second trimester and the third trimester the vaginal discharge will increase in volume and still maintain the egg white consistency. The discharge should not bear any foul smell, change color or cause a burning sensation in the vagina while passing urine.

If you experience any of the above named symptoms then you need to visit your doctor. Remember when you are pregnant  you are not only taking care of yourself but also taking care of your baby as well. Sexually transmitted diseases can affect your unborn baby in the womb.

Having a lot of vaginal discharge coming out of your vagina can be very uncomfortable for a pregnant mother. The best thing to do is to wear a panty liner and change it often.

Reasons, meaning, Causes of vaginal discharge

Normal vaginal discharge is produced by glands found in the vagina and cervix. It is a natural process aimed at keeping the vagina healthy. It cleanses the vagina by washing away dead cells, dirt and any foreign body in the vagina.

It also balances the pH of the vagina and provides good bacteria with an environment to thrive in .The normal vaginal discharge is white or clear in color and has got no significant smell. Increase in the amount of vaginal discharge that comes out of your vagina is a sign of an abnormality.

Sexually transmitted diseases and other vaginal infections like yeast infection of bacterial vaginosis will change the color, texture, smell and volume of your normal vaginal discharge.

Types of vaginal discharge

Below are several types of vaginal discharge that a woman is likely to have in her life time. It is always important to seek medical help in case you are having vaginal discharge that is not normal

1. Yellow vaginal discharge

Yellow discharge during pregnancy
Yellow vaginal discharge

Yellow vaginal discharge is no normal .It is triggered by several factors. Pregnancy discharge may turn into light yellow due to increase in the levels of estrogen during pregnancy. This hormonal imbalance will change the color of your discharge from white to light yellow.

Light yellow discharge that looks like cottage-cheese is a symptom of yeast infection. Sexually transmitted diseases like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Trichomoniasis are associated with dark yellow discharge.

Read more on yellow discharge before period and Yellowish discharge after period

2. Clear watery discharge

Clear vaginal discharge is a normal. It occurs at the onset of ovulation. The amount of mucus increases in the discharge and gives it a clear color and a stretchy feel with the consistency of an egg white.

This type of discharge is ideal for propagating sperms into the fallopian tube to fertilize an ovum in case you have unprotected sex. After you get pregnant the discharge will be watery due to hormonal imbalance.

The mucus in the clear discharge forms a plug that protects the cervix against pathogens that may get into the womb and cause infection to the developing embryo.

Read more on Clear discharge before period

3. White Vaginal discharge

White vaginal discharge that looks like milk is normal vaginal discharges that occur before and after ovulation when your next period is almost due.

It should not have any foul smell and should be creamy smooth. White vaginal discharge that looks like cottage –cheese is a symptom of yeast infection. It may not bear a smell but still you need to seek treatment.

Read more on White discharge before period and White discharge after period

4. Brown vaginal discharge

Brown discharge is just normal vaginal discharge that has been stained by old blood from the uterus that delayed to flow out during menstruation. It mostly occurs a few days after period ends.

There are conditions and diseases that also cause bleeding of either the walls of the cervix or uterus. The blood will stain your discharge giving it a brown tint. The following are other reasons that can cause brown discharge;

  1. Pre-menopause
  2. Late Period
  3. Implantation bleeding
  4. Stress
  5. Hormonal Imbalance
  6. Damaged Reproductive Organ
  7. Yeast Infection
  8. Bacterial Vaginosis
  9. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  10. Endometriosis
  11. Cervical Cancer
  12. Cervicitis

Read more on;

  1. Why is my period brown?
  2. Brown discharge before period
  3. Brown discharge after period

5. Pink vaginal discharge

Pink vaginal discharge means you are spotting. The fresh blood mixes with normal vaginal discharge and this gives it a light red or pinkish color. Spotting can be caused by several factors. It can occur before or after having your period. The following are the major causes of pink spotting that causes pink vaginal discharge;

  1. Implantation bleeding
  2. Ovulation
  3. Hormonal imbalance
  4. Contraction of the Uterus
  5. Ovarian Cysts
  6. Cancer
  7. Cervical Erosion
  8. Myomas
  9. Endometriosis

Read more on pink discharge before period and pink discharge after period

6. Cervical mucus discharge

Cervical mucus is a natural semi-fluid that is found in the uterus or cervix. It is usually clear with an egg white consistency. It is secreted from cervical glands. It is a normal vaginal discharge that is tailor made to aid in conception by trapping healthy sperms, filtering out unhealthy sperms and conserving them for approximately a week or less.

In case of ovulation, the mucus will facilitate the sperms in getting to the fallopian tube for fertilaztion.it also keeps the vagina moist and prevents it from drying up. It also acts as a natural lubricant during sexual intercourse.

Read more on cervical mucus before period

8. Thick mucus vaginal discharge

Thick sticky stretchy mucus discharge before period
Vaginal Discharge may be Thick, sticky stretchy, look like mucus

Thick mucus discharge form during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormone progesterone will improve blood supply, swelling of the uterine cervix, enlargement and proliferation of its glands.

All this changes lead to the formation of a thick mucus plug on the cervical pharynx in order to protect the internal organs and the growing embryo from external pathogens that may enter the uterus through the cervix.

Read more on yeast infection discharge

When is vaginal discharge considered not to be normal?

According to NHS, “If your discharge changes (for example, its smell, color or texture) it might be a sign of an infection.

Vaginal discharge is considered to be abnormal if;

  1. It changes its color to any other color apart from white or clear. Other colors like, yellow, green or grey discharge are symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases or virginal infections.
  2. It has got a foul smell. Sexually transmitted diseases like trichomoniasis will give your discharge a fishy smell. A rotten smell could mean that you have forgotten a tampon inside you. It is important to observe good hygiene during menstruation.
  3. It has a cottage-cheese like consistency. Normal discharge should be creamy white or look like egg white.

When to see a doctor

Normal vaginal discharge should be white, clear or milky in color depending on the stage of your menstrual cycle you are in. When normal vaginal discharge changes in the color and consistency you need to visit a doctor. Here are some of the changes that occur when your discharge is not normal;

  1. Odd color grey, green, brown or yellow.
  2. Bad odor that smell like fish or rotten meat
  3. Itchy feeling in the vagina
  4. Burning sensation in the vagina while urinating
  5. Traces of blood in your normal vaginal discharge
  6. Cottage cheese like vaginal discharge
  7. Frothy discharge

Your doctor will be able to give you a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment for sexually transmitted diseases or vaginal infections like yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis. It is very important to treat these diseases as soon as possible, because they can cause serious health issues if left untreated. Syphilis causes blindness.

Reference;

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/implantation-bleeding/faq-20058257
  2. https://www.bustle.com/articles/64679-does-my-vagina-smell-healthy-5-common-vaginal-odors-explained
  3. http://www.everydayhealth.com/vaginal-discharge/guide/
  4. http://www.healthline.com/symptom/vaginal-discharge
  5. https://beta.nhs.uk/conditions/vaginal-discharge?WT.mc_id=organic_split

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