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Vaginal Discharge: Learn About Color and Smell Symptoms

Vaginal Discharge: Learn About Color and Smell Symptoms
Vaginal Discharge: Learn About Color and Smell Symptoms

Vaginal discharge is considered in cases when there is an increased amount of vaginal secretion due to different reasons. Any possible changes in color, consistency or smell of the vaginal secretion are considered as pathological vaginal discharge.

Normal Vaginal Discharge

All women have some vaginal discharge. Normal vaginal discharge is clear or cloudy white in color, sometimes even yellowish when it is seen dry on clothes. Normal vaginal discharge may contain some white flecks, but it can also be thin and stringy with no aggressive odor. The amount, smell, transparence or thickness of the vaginal secretion can be changed by many physiological factors, like for example: ovulation, sexual arousal, pregnancy, emotional stress, etc.

Pathological Vaginal Discharge

Slight changes in the appearance and amount of the vaginal discharge are normal. If changes in the vaginal discharge are accompanied by other signs and symptoms a pathological process is possible. The most common causes of pathological vaginal discharges are:

  • Antibiotic or steroid use,
  • Infections of vagina (Vaginitis) and cervix (Cervicitis). These infections can be sexually transmitted or not. The most common causes of genital infections are Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Herpes simplex virus, Trichomonas vaginalis, Gardnerella vaginalis and Candida Albicans.

Candida Albicans causes a fungal infection named Candidiasis. The vaginal discharge is liquid white or thick and chunky secretion, accompanied with painful urination, painful sexual intercourse, burning and itching sensation of the genital area are present.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the cause of Gonorrhea, a bacterial infection. In gonorrhea there is a significant increase in the vaginal discharge which is yellow or greenish with a very bad smell, accompanied by pain in the pelvis and lower abdomen, painful urination, unusual vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse, etc.

Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted disease. The infection can be asymptomatic, but it can also cause frequent and urgent urination, pelvic pain, burning sensation, painful sexual intercourse and excessive smelly vaginal discharge.

Trichomonas vaginal is a parasite that causes Trichomoniasis. The symptoms include yellow-green foamy vaginal discharge of an aggressive odor, painful urination, itchy and discomfort of the vulva and vagina, as well as lower abdominal pain.

Gardnerella vaginalis is a bacterium that is a normal part of the vaginal micro flora. Whenever there is a dis balance of the normal vaginal micro flora the bacterium increases in number, causing Vaginosis.

  • Birth control pills
  • Cervical cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease,
  • Chemical irritations of the vagina caused by various hygiene products or contraceptives
  • Mechanical injuries of the vagina and cervix, etc.

Color Types of Pathological Vaginal Discharge

  • bloody or brown
  • pink
  • thick, cheesy and white
  • white, grey or yellow with fishy odor
  • cloudy or yellow
  • yellow or greenish with a very bad smell

Bloody or brown vaginal discharge is seen in cases with malignancy (vaginal cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer).

Pink vaginal discharge is seen in cases of lochia. Lochia is a normal shedding of the uterine lining after childbirth.

Thick, cheesy and a white vaginal discharge are seen in cases of yeast infections.

White, grey or yellow vaginal discharge with fishy odor is seen in cases with bacterial vaginosis.

Yellow or greenish vaginal discharge with a very bad smell is seen in cases with gonorrhea.

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About Author

Dr. Dmitry Bronfman

Dmitry Bronfman, MD, is a board-certified gynecologist who specializes in all aspects of contemporary women’s health, preventive medicine, pelvic pain, minimally invasive and robotic surgery, and general, adolescent, and menopausal gynecology.

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