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What different types of vaginal discharge mean

July 2020

When vaginal discharge has a certain color, smell, is thicker or has an unusual consistency it may indicate a vaginal infection like candidiasis or a sexually-transmitted disease, like gonorrhea or trichomoniasis.

Therefore, when vaginal discharge is not transparent and it is white, yellow, green, pink, or brown it may indicate different problems such as vaginal infections and, if so, it is important to go to a gynecologist so the problem can be treated. 

The following information will help you determine what each type of discharge can mean:

1. White discharge

What different types of vaginal discharge mean

Thick, white discharge, like curdled milk, is usually accompanied by other symptoms like itchiness, redness, and burning sensation in the vulva and vagina. 

What can cause it: it can be caused by vaginal candidiasis, a vaginal infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans.

How to treat it: treatment is generally through antifungal medicine like fluconazole, which can be taken as pills or as an ointment applied in the area.

However, if there is white discharge resembling milk that is homogeneous and that has a fishy odor, it can be a sign of colpitis, a type of vaginosis caused by protozoans, fungi, or bacteria. 

2. Yellow or yellow-green discharge

What different types of vaginal discharge mean

Yellow, gray, or yellow-green discharge, which has a strong odor, resembling a fish smell and is accompanied by other symptoms like pain and burning sensation during intercourse or when urinating.  

What can cause it: it can be caused by Trichomoniasis, a vaginal infection that is sexually transmitted.  

How to treat it: treatment is generally through antifungal medication like metronidazole, tioconazole or secnidazole, which can be taken as a single-dose pill or in a treatment that lasts five to seven days.  

Additionally, yellow discharge that is similar to pus can indicate Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease that may not have any other symptoms. In this case, treatment is done with azithromycin, taken in a single dose or in a five to seven-day treatment period. When the discharge is a greeny color, it can be a sign of trichomoniasis or vulvovaginitis.

3. Brown or bloody discharge

What different types of vaginal discharge mean

Brown or bloody discharge is generally linked to other symptoms like pain and burning sensation when urinating. 

What can cause it: it can be caused by Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria.  

How to treat it: treatment can be done through antibiotic medication such as azithromycin or ciprofloxacin, taken as a single dose or as a seven to ten-day treatment.  

In addition, in more serious cases this type of discharge can also indicate vaginal cancer, cervical cancer, or endometrial cancer, so a gynecologist should be seen if these symptoms appear. 

However, if you have had your menstruation recently there is no reason for concern as it is common to have a brown, pink, or bloody discharge for a few days after menstruation ends. 

4. Pink discharge

What different types of vaginal discharge mean

Pink discharge can indicate the beginning of pregnancy, as it can be caused by the fertilization of an egg and it generally occurs three days after sexual contact. Together with this type of discharge, it is common to experience slight colic-like abdominal pain that goes away without treatment. 

5. Transparent discharge

Liquid, transparent discharge, resembling egg white may indicate that you are in your fertile period, and so it is the ideal time to get pregnant if not undergoing contraceptive treatment.

This type of discharge usually lasts about six days and goes away naturally.

Is it possible to have discharge during pregnancy?

Discharge during pregnancy should always be treated as quick as possible, to avoid pregnancy complications, which could potentially harm the baby.

  • What can cause it: it can be caused by diseases like trichomoniasis,  bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea, or even candidiasis.
  • How to treat it: treatment can be done with medication like antifungal medication or antibiotics prescribed by the doctor. 

During pregnancy as soon as the first symptoms emerge it is important to see a doctor, so that the best treatment can be prescribed.

What to do to avoid discharge

To avoid infections and vaginal diseases that can cause discharge it is important to have good daily hygiene by cleaning the genital area once to twice a day. To do this, wash the area with abundant water and just a little drop of soap, and do not rub the area too much. After washing yourself, dry yourself carefully, and put on a clean pair of panties.  

These steps are important:

  • Wear cotton panties;
  • Do not use daily pantyliners;
  • Avoid using moist toilet tissues or perfumed toilet paper;
  • Avoid rubbing your genital area too much, even if using a gentle cleanser.

These steps will help avoid vaginal infections and will protect the vaginal mucosa, thus avoiding the development of fungi or bacteria that can cause discharge.

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