Vaginal discharge – do I have to worry?

Many women are confused when it comes to vaginal discharge.

However, often this isn’t a topic you would openly discuss with your friends or even your doctor.

You may have questions such as “ Is it normal discharge? Why does my discharge always vary in amount and colour? Should I see a doctor? When should I be worried?”. These are perfectly common and normal questions to ask as vaginal discharge varies from individual and they can be quite confusing.

Usually there is really nothing to worry about unless your vaginal discharge is associated with itching, pain or bad smell. Having vaginal discharge is normal in all women. But of course, it will be helpful to know what normal discharge is or looks like.

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Vaginal Environment

Before proceeding any farther, let us realize that a normal healthy vagina is never free from a type of bacteria known as ‘lactobacillus’. When balanced in amount, it is a ‘friend’ and ‘protector’ of the vagina. Its role is to protect the vagina from infection by releasing certain proteins and maintaining a vaginal pH of 4.5. Once the bacterial count decreases, vaginal pH changes and various infections of the vagina can occur. Green, yellow, gray and white, thick, cottage-cheese like discharge, usually with odor, itching and pain are signs of infection.

normal discharge

Normal and ovulation discharge

Clear, whitish, thin or thick odorless discharge are usually normal and shoudn’t be alarming. It can happen at any time during your menstrual cycle. This discharges means your reproductive organs are ‘cleansing’ the vagina and cervix, getting rid of dead cells and bacteria which is being transported by these discharges.

Somewhere around the 14th day of your cycle (i.e when an egg is released from your ovary -termed ovulation), you may notice clear colourless and elastic discharge resembling egg white. It is usually much more in amount than your usual vaginal discharge. This is a good sign for those who are trying to concieve as this when you are most fertile.

Sometimes, white and more watery discharge can be found after heavy physical activities, when you are sexually excited or sometimes when you feel extremely tired.

Common causes are Infections, Hormonal Imbalance, Vaginal Environments Changes and maybe it’s just Normal Discharge!


Menses discharge

Besides having bright red blood discharge during menses, you can also have dark brown discharge which usually occurs towards the end of your menstruation or 1-2 days after menstruation.  This is the leftover menstrual blood in the vagina which was not completely cleared. It is brown as dead blood cells turn brown. Sometimes, this dark brown discharge can also be seen during your mid cycle when ovulation occurs and is normal.



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Bacterial vaginosis (vaginal infection caused by bacteria) is one of the most common causes of gray, foul fishy-smelling vaginal discharge. Redness of the vulva, itching and burning sensation during intercourse may accompany. Green, thick fishy-smelling discharges are commonly caused by gardnerella infections.

Gonorrheal infections are manifested by cloudy yellow discharge often accompanied by pelvic pain and frequent urination.

Trichomoniasis (a parasitic infection) gives yellowish frothy discharge with bad odor. This is usually transmitted through unprotected sex. These infections are commonly treated with over-the-counter antibiotics, most effective one being metronidazole in forms of tablets, vaginal gel/creams and suppositories.

White, cottage-cheese-like discharge often accompanied by itching is due to yeast infection known as candidiasis.

Other type of infections that you could get which could cause abnormal vaginal discharge includes chlamydia, ureaplasma and mycoplasma.

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If you are pregnant, consult a doctor before taking any medications. Pay attention to your personal hygiene. Changing your panty liners frequently, keeping your feminine area cool and dry by avoiding tight clothing and linen panties may help prevent from such infections.

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We must not overlook some other simple facts that may lead to changes in normal conditions of vagina. Decreased bacterial count and an increased vaginal pH more than 4.5 are the main culprits causing infection. You may not notice that using fragrant soaps, vaginal douching and frequent bubbly baths may be some of the causes. For those who are sexually active, sticking to one partner is the best prevention, as STDs are often associated with such infections. Pregnancy and menopause may sometimes lead to imbalanced vaginal conditions due to hormonal changes. It is then best to maintain a good personal hygiene.

Although less frequently red discharge or spotting is a more serious case. When this is noted, question yourself: Have you had any unprotected intercourse recently? If yes, this may be a sign of pregnancy and you might want to do a pregnancy test. Spotting during early pregnancy may mean miscarriages or threatened abortion. Some other reasons are vaginal tear and lacerations during rough intercourse, and, if you are more than 40, it may be due to cancers. This is the time when you should be worried and tell your doctor.


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  1. Hi doc,for more than 4months now I’ve been experiencing a discharge and ah times is red,milky,and whitish.I also don’t see my period frequently.what should I do please?

  2. olivia

    Hi! I have never had a period before, and today I noticed that I had bloody discharge?? I’m confused as to what this means, can someone please help?

    • Perhaps it is your period? Speak to your parents, and if there is any concern please visit a doctor.

  3. Nithya

    Hai dr
    I had abortion 1 year ago that time I had infection my vaginal discharge is yellow colour then know when I do some heavy work am getting yellow or brownish colour discharge from vagina.moreover , most of the time I have the discharge later am getting sever icting would explain me the reason for that

  4. Hi! I am a 44 year old woman who, for the most part, has had pretty regular, consistent 5 day menstrual cycles. A couple of weeks ago when I wiped there was a faint trace of blood. Today when I wiped the same thing occurred. I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT WE (my husband of 24 years and I) ARE NOT PREGNANT, lol. I still ovulate, and there is no odor or green/yellow discolorations. What could this blood be?

  5. Mary Catherine Wood

    Hi i am mary wood. I will be 40 in few months. i recently got back on birth control pills last jan. I have not been on birth control in 13 years. I was keeping having clear discharge with blood steak in it and it smells. I dont know if it normal. Do i need to be concern?

    • Dr Elaine Loh

      Hi there. Based on your description, there is a possibility that you may be having an infection. I suggest you see a doctor for an assessment.
      You can find us here : Locations

  6. 9 days before my period I had light brown discharge with severe back pain, the second day it was pinkish and went back to light brown and back pain increased, i woke up today and pain was very light and i have white discharge, I did a home test and it cane out negative, do I have to worry about anything

    • Dr Elaine Loh

      I am not sure what you meant by doing a home test. If you are concerned , I suggest you consult a doctor for an assessment.

  7. Hi
    I am 11 going on twelve and when I went to the bathroom and wiped is was like a brown mucus type liquid but I have never had my period and so I just want to know if this is a sign that it it going to start
    P.s I have minor pain in my left abdomen area

    • Dr Elaine Loh

      It is possible. However, if you are concerned, please see a doctor to get an assessment done.

  8. I had unprotected sex a day after my period stopped and took postinor2 two days week later I bleeded for 4days,.and then had a period two weeks later earlier than the due date. Please is it a symptom of implantation bleeding or what? Cause during those times I had abdominal discomfort, fatigue,bloating,fullness of the stomach and I had a whitish discharge which stop for one day accompanied with thick yellowish discharging

  9. Hello Dr, my discharge looks like the first photo (slightly yellow), was the first photo supposed to resemble normal discharge or an infection? Is it normal to have slightly yellow discharge?

    • Dr Elaine Loh

      Unfortunately, we do not have your photo.
      You should consult a doctor to get an assessment if you are having vaginal discharge that you have not experienced before.
      You can find us here: Location

  10. Hi
    Ever since my period is always irregular, then latter part of August i have my period and it ended August 27. Then on Sept 8 I noticed that I have little brownish red discharge. I never encounter any sexually activity. What could it be?

  11. Ms. Lobai

    Hi, I’m 35yrs with 4 miscarriages up to 2015 now my current partner and I recently stopped using protection for the past 22 days to be exact after the last day of my period, I’m now noticing nipples extra tender and today the egg white mucus had streaks of blood when I wiped and nothing since just moderate pain in lower right abdomen that comes and goes ever so often since today tests were negative up to 4 days ago can you please shed some light on my situation thanks in advance.

  12. Hi doc

    I have a red brown discharge,it’s not itchy,not very smelly,to me it smells pretty normal and there’s no pain! My periods are due anytime. I can’t be pregnant because I haven’t had sex for a long time like 2months now. What could be wrong?

  13. Mary Richard

    Hi,am 21 years old and am experiencing a sharp pain in my left side in between the abdomen and my pelvic then i have this pinkish discharge but its stretchy with no odour smell and i don’t have any itching, what might be the problem?

  14. Unkown

    Hi.. ive been experiencing dark brownish with brown and blood clots for 14 days now,i was supposed to start my periods but i havent. I usually have brown discharge for a day before i start my periods and this month its been longer than a day. Please help?

  15. Shachi

    I have noticed red discharge only once a day for two alternate days ,10 days before my due date for periods os os normal?after seeing it once..there was no bleeding n was having absolutely discharge

  16. Working Girl

    My period starts in 2 weeks. I use birth control pill that gives me a period every 3 months. Only have 1 sex partner for last 10 years. Had sex 3 nights ago. I am experiencing a very thick sticky discharge when i urinate. It doesnt really smell. It has a cloudy color. Started 2 days ago. I assumed this was normal, having experienced similar discharge after sex before. It is enough that i wipped multiple times and occured every time i urniate. Tonight i wipped and got a huge glob of this stuff. It didn’t smell, no itching, burning, or pain during urination, no abdominal pain, or fever to speak of. But the amount startled me. It was apx golf ball sized glob. I touched it and it was very thick and sticky and didnt loose shape or stick to my finger. The color is the mostly the same just a little darker. Not sure if this is normal or if i need to take a day off work for a trip to my dr. Please advise. Cant really afford to loose a day of pay unless its concerning.

  17. Hello, my partner and I went on a 3 day sexual binge.
    We had sex 3- 4 times a day for 3 days. But the very last time we had very rough sex and my cervix was hit more than once very hard. That night he fingered me a little rough as well and the next morning I woke up with clear discharge streaked with blood. Then that evening I had a huge gush of darkblood that was mucousy and have now been bleeding regularlly for 24 hours. I am having to use tampons, the blood is bright red and has some clots. My period started February 22 and ended the 28th. We had sex March 8, March 9, March 10. I started bleeding on March 11th and I am still bleeding. I’ve been tested for STDs about a month ago and I was clean. Is it residual period stuff? Did he tear something?

  18. Ms Worried

    Hi, I am 44 years old and about two years ago, I had a D & C done – reason given there was a pollip in my lining which cause heavy bleeding. After this, I’ve been experiencing some degree Of incontinance especially when I wake up early in the morning. I feel wet and must go to the bathroom at once. However, it does not smell like urine. I have not had sex for more that 4-5 months. Now I’m experiencing mucus discharge with blood. I’m really worried and wonder if it could be cancerous. Please advise !!!

  19. Dear Dr,

    I have been diagnosed with endometriosis last year and I had a laparotomy to remove the cysts found on both my ovaries, one was a dermoid cyst while the other was endometriosis. After the surgery I was prescribed with Visanne to reduce the recurrence of endo and I have taken the medication for 6 months. I have recently ended the treatment and since then have been a lot of white discharge but without odor. I didn’t have any issues while taking Visanne but now I am worried about the amount of discharge that I am having after this treatment.
    Should I see a doctor for this situation?

    I also wish to know when would be ideal for me to perform another ultrasound scan to see if the endo is back? My Visanne treatment ended 2 weeks ago. I am not able to refer back to my gynae who treated me as I am currently living in another place so I will have to also look for a new doctor.

    Your response will be much appreciated.

    • Dear Ms Nair ,

      In view that you are having persistant discharge and that you have recently completed treatment for endometriosis 2 weeks ago, I would advise that you were to followup with either your previous gynae or another gynaecologist. You will require a an assessment and referral from your local GP in this case.

  20. Hi doc, I did a D&C on the 27th of July after an a echography said I was having a miscarriage. Three days later I did a pregnancy test which came out negative. Right now I have this slippery brownish discharge with blood patches and I feel slight pains in my tummy.


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