“In general, the golden rule is: vaginal discharge is normal if the colour is clear, white or yellow, it is not smelly, and is not associated with vulval discomfort or tummy pain”.1

Umbrella
What may the Vaginal Discharge Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Vaginal Discharge
  • Vaginal Infection
  • Vaginal Inflammation

Definition

What is vaginal discharge?

DotS the definition of vaginal discharge may vary. The (United States) Mayo Clinic’s definition is:

“Vaginal discharge is a combination of fluid and cells continuously shed through your vagina”.2

Normal

What is normal vaginal discharge?

In Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: Secretions or Discharge the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (JH) explain:

“All women have vaginal discharge or secretions which help to keep the vagina and vulva moist and remove bacteria and dead cells. Normal secretions vary throughout the menstrual cycle, from thin and slippery during ovulation to thick and white just before your period. It’s common for discharge to be discoloured red or brown a day or two before or after your period.

Some vulval and vaginal secretions change in colour and consistency with an infection”.3

In What’s Normal: Discharge – Normal Discharge Caredownthere.com.au elaborate on:

“In general, the golden rule is: vaginal discharge is normal if the colour is clear, white or yellow, it is not smelly, and is not associated with vulval discomfort or tummy pain”.4

In Vaginal Discharge: Check If Your Vaginal Discharge Is Normal the (United Kingdom) NHS (National Health Service) note:

“Vaginal discharge usually isn’t anything to worry about if it:

  • Doesn’t have a strong or unpleasant smell
  • Is clear or white
  • Is thick and sticky
  • Is slippery and wet”.5

Abnormal

What is abnormal vaginal discharge?

In Vaginal Discharge: Basics – Definition the Mayo Clinic note:

“Abnormal vaginal discharge — for instance, fluid with an unusual odor or appearance or discharge that occurs along with itching or pain — may be a sign that something’s wrong”.6

Cause

What causes abnormal vaginal discharge?

In Vaginal Discharge: Basics – Causes the Mayo Clinic note:

“Most causes of abnormal vaginal discharge — such as yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis or menopause symptoms — are relatively harmless, but they can be uncomfortable”.7

Caredownthere.com explain:

“We can’t go into all the possible causes for abnormal discharge, but we want to reassure you that there are lots of harmless causes, not just sexually-transmitted infections and cancer”.8

Douching or Not

Should women douche?

No. In Douching: What Is Douching? the Office on Women’s Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Womenshealth.gov note:

“The word “douche” means to wash or soak. Douching is washing or cleaning out the inside of the vagina with water or other mixtures of fluids. Most douches are sold in stores as prepackaged mixes of water and vinegar, baking soda, or iodine. The mixtures usually come in a bottle or bag. You squirt the douche upward through a tube or nozzle into your vagina. The water mixture then comes back out through your vagina.

Douching is different from washing the outside of your vagina during a bath or shower. Rinsing the outside of your vagina with warm water will not harm your vagina. But, douching can lead to many different health problems.

Most doctors recommend that women do not douche”.9

Odour

After menopause, may vaginal odour change?

The JH note:

“After menopause, odour may change as the normal bacteria also changes. The odour will be different compared to when still having periods”.10

Health Care Provider

What if I think I have abnormal vaginal discharge?

If you think you have abnormal vaginal discharge, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this. Caredownthere.com.au note:

“Your health professional is the best person to give you the right advice for your situation”.11

The JH note:

“If you are worried about the odour of your vulva and vagina, and/or have other symptoms such as itching, burning, irritation, soreness, painful sex or painful urination, you should see your doctor”.12

In Vaginal Discharge: Basics – When To See A Doctor the Mayo Clinic note:

“Schedule a doctor’s visit if you have:

  • Greenish, yellowish, thick or cheesy vaginal discharge
  • Strong vaginal odor
  • Redness, itching, burning or irritation of your vagina or the area of skin that surrounds the vagina and urethra (vulva)
  • Bleeding or spotting unrelated to your period”.13

Health Topics A-Z

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In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. What’s Normal: Discharge – Normal Discharge. Caredownthere.com.au https://www.caredownthere.com.au/_pages/normal_discharge.html Accessed: 22 August 2020
  2. Vaginal Discharge: Basics – Definition. 14 February 2019. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-discharge/basics/definition/sym-20050825 Accessed: 22 August 2020
  3. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: Secretions or Discharge. Last Updated: 17 July 2020 | Last Reviewed: 24 February 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 22 August 2020
  4. What’s Normal: Discharge – Normal Discharge. Caredownthere.com.au https://www.caredownthere.com.au/_pages/normal_discharge.html Accessed: 22 August 2020
  5. Vaginal Discharge: Check If Your Discharge Is Normal. Page Last Reviewed: 17 January 2018. NHS (National Health Service) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaginal-discharge/#normal-vaginal-discharge Accessed: 22 August 2020
  6. Vaginal Discharge: Basics – Definition. 14 February 2019. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-discharge/basics/definition/sym-20050825 Accessed: 22 August 2020
  7. Vaginal Discharge: Basics – Causes. 14 February 2019. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-discharge/basics/causes/sym-20050825 Accessed: 22 August 2020
  8. What’s Normal: Discharge – Abnormal Discharge. Caredownthere.com.au https://www.caredownthere.com.au/_pages/normal_discharge.html Accessed: 22 August 2020
  9. Douching: What Is Douching?. Medical Review In 2014. Page Last Updated: 01 April 2019. Office on Women’s Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Womenshealth.gov https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/douching Accessed: 22 August 2020
  10. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: Odour. Last Updated: 17 July 2020 | Last Reviewed: 24 February 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 22 August 2020
  11. What’s Normal: Discharge – Abnormal Discharge. Caredownthere.com.au https://www.caredownthere.com.au/_pages/normal_discharge.html Accessed: 22 August 2020
  12. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: Odour. Last Updated: 17 July 2020 | Last Reviewed: 24 February 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 22 August 2020
  13. Vaginal Discharge: Basics – When To See A Doctor. 14 February 2019. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-discharge/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050825 Accessed: 22 August 2020

Topic Last Updated: 22 August 2020 – Topic Last Reviewed: 22 August 2020
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