Discharge Before a Period: White, Brown, Yellow & More

February 2023

A discharge before a period can range in colors, and may present as white, brown, yellow, pink, and green in color. Normally, discharge before a period is white, odorless, mildly elastic and slippery. This white discharge occurs due to hormonal changes that are normal during the menstrual cycle after release of the egg. 

Brown discharge or pink discharge before a period are generally signs of bleeding, with darker discharge associated with older blood being eliminated. These types of discharge are generally not linked to pain or discomfort and can also be an expected finding. 

Nonetheless, if the discharge appears to be another color, or if it has strange characteristics (like a foul odor, thick consistency, or  color change), or if you have other symptoms (like pain, burning, or itching), it may be a sign of another condition, like an infection. You should be assessed by your doctor and tested to rule out any health problems. Your doctor will advise treatment as necessary. 

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What different colors mean

One of the easiest characteristics to notice in your discharge is the color. Therefore, we will summarize the common causes of each color of discharge that can occur before menstruation. 

White discharge 

White discharge is a common type of discharge before a period. Odorless, thin white discharge is completely normal. Learn more about the significance of white discharge before a period

If your white discharge does have a foul odor, if it is thick, or if you notice additional symptoms like itching, pain or vaginal irritation, it can be a sign of a year infection, which requires an assessment. Learn more about how a yeast infection is treated with medication and home remedies. 

Read about the causes of white discharge and what to do. 

Brown discharge

Brown discharge is more common to appear after menstruation following the elimination of blood clots. However, brown discharge can also appear before a period, especially after sexual contact or changes to birth control. Learn more about the causes of brown discharge before a period

If your brown discharge appears with blood or is associated with pain, discomfort during sex, or burning during urination, you may have a sexually transmitted infection, like gonorrhea, that should be treated promptly with antibiotics. Read more about common STIs and how they are treated. 

Yellow discharge 

Yellow discharge is not an immediate warning sign of any problem. It generally occurs 10 days before a period due to ovulation. Check-out why yellow discharge happens and what it means. 

Women should monitor for any changes to discharge smell and new symptoms, like pain with urination or genital itching, as yellow discharge can also be a sign of infection which requires assessment. 

In the meantime, learn about ovulation symptoms that you can look our for. 

Pink discharge 

Pink discharge can appear before a period, especially in women with irregular cycles or in women going through a phase of hormonal imbalance. 

Pink discharge is usually a sign of a period occurring earlier than anticipated, which can lead to period blood mixing with white discharge. This is common after ovulation and before a period. Find out more about the significance of pink discharge after ovulation

Situations that can lead to hormonal imbalances include:

  • Beginning or switching birth control 
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Pre-menopause 

If the pink discharge occurs with other symptoms like pain during sex, bleeding or pelvic pain, it could be a sign of infection. You should see your doctor for assessment to identify a cause and start treatment as necessary. Check-out other causes of pink discharge and what to do. 

Green discharge

Green discharge before a period is not common and is generally accompanied by a foul odor, itching, and vaginal burning. It is usually a sign of a fungal or bacterial infection. It may also be a result of bacterial vaginosis, which is associated with an overgrowth of the natural-occurring bacteria in the vaginal tract. 

You should seek assessment if you notice green discharge so that the infection can be identified and treated. See what else can cause green discharge and how it is treated. 

When to go to the doctor 

It is important to see your doctor when: 

  • The discharge has a foul odor 
  • If you have other symptoms like genital pain or irritation, especially when urinating or during sex. 
  • Your period is late by over 2 months  

You should see your doctor at least every year for an annual check-up and to make sure your preventative screen tests, like the pap test, are up-to-date.

Was this information helpful?

Written and updated by Daisy Oliveira - Registered Nurse, on February of 2023.


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