Written by: Mutshidzi Kwinda
It is normal for girls to release vaginal discharges or fluids daily. This may start to happen after your breasts start to grow or a few months before the first menstrual cycle. However, not all discharges are normal and of good cause. Sometimes, they can symbolize changes happening in your body that may be a threat to your gynecological or reproductive health.
Here are some of the examples of normal vs abnormal vaginal discharge and what they mean:
- Normal Discharge
Characteristics of a normal discharge may vary depending on whether you have just gone to your periods or if you are ovulating, and can also depend on whether you are pregnant or on birth control (contraceptives/family planning).
White, no smell and not causing itching. If your discharge is white and thick without smell and not accompanied by an itch, discomfort, or burning sensation, it is a sign that it is normal. This kind of discharge usually comes right before (and sometimes after) your menstrual periods.
Clear or transparent and watery. Usually occurs after exercising and on regular days.
Clear and sticky/stretchy. Sign of possible ovulation.
Brown or bloody after menstruation – this usually happens right after your menstrual cycle and is just a final process of cleaning up what is left after your cycle.
Pinkish (also known as spotting). Most common at the beginning of pregnancy and after childbirth.
- Abnormal (concerning) Discharges
It is important that as soon as you notice the following kinds of discharges, you consult with a doctor or any healthcare professional who can help or refer you to the right place for help.
Yellow. If it is yellow and cloudy with urinary incontinence, pains when urinating and pains around the pelvis, it could be a sign of Gonorrhea (an STI). Yellow with a fishy smell, itching or burning, swelling, and redness may be a sign of a bacterial infection called bacterial vaginosis (a vaginal inflammation).
Green. If it is green (and sometimes yellow) with a bad odor, it could be a common STD called Trichomoniasis. It usually comes with pain and itching when urinating.
Brown or bloody (without menstruation) – It might be a sign that you are pregnant or had a miscarriage. It can also be an indication of the possibility of cervical or endometrial cancer (especially if there is a lot of bleeding outside the menstrual periods and accompanied by pain around the pelvis).
White, Thick, and Cheesy. This is common but not normal. It is a sign of yeast infection and is usually present with swelling, itching, pains around the vaginal lips, and when having sexual intercourse. Yeast infections can be easily treated using over the counter anti-fungal medications from a pharmacy. However, if the symptoms are severe, it is advisable to consult a doctor first.