Abnormal Vaginal Discharge - What You Need to Know

Vaginal Discharge

What is Vaginal Discharge?

Every female has normal vaginal discharge produced by glands in the vagina and cervix, which serves to cleanse the vaginal canal and maintain a healthy vaginal environment. This normal discharge may vary throughout one’s menstrual cycle.

What is abnormal vaginal discharge?

There are naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina (“vaginal flora”) that help maintain an acidic environment. Any disruption to the natural balance of the vaginal environment, often due to bacteria that should not be present, can result in abnormal vaginal discharge.

Abnormal vaginal discharge may be different in color, consistency, and volume and may at times be accompanied by an unpleasant odor from the vaginal. This usually indicates the presence of a vaginal infection.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Vaginal Discharge

What is normal vaginal discharge?

Normal vaginal discharge is odorless and appears clear or slightly milky. It may change in consistency during the menstrual cycle, with some stringy, mucus-like discharge near ovulation, which occurs halfway through your cycle.

How do I know if my vaginal discharge is abnormal?

Abnormal colored vaginal discharge may be yellowish, greenish, or brownish. Changes in the consistency of discharge, such as the presence of thick, chalky, clumpy discharge, or copious amounts of thin, watery discharge are also abnormal.

Discharge that is accompanied by spotting (bleeding which occurs when you are not having your menses), may also be abnormal. Associated symptoms like vaginal itching, soreness or abdominal pain further indicate that something is amiss.

What are the causes of abnormal vaginal discharge?

Abnormal vaginal discharge is usually due to an underlying vaginal infection, which can either be sexually transmitted or non-sexually transmitted.



Bacterial vaginosis







In rare cases, abnormal vaginal discharge may be due to non-infective causes such as cervical cancer.

What could my abnormal vaginal discharge indicate?

Certain vaginal infections may give rise to characteristic abnormal vaginal discharge. However, it is important to remember that multiple infections can coexist and at times, diagnosis based solely on the characteristic of the discharge may not always be reliable. Whitish, thick, clumpy, or cottage cheese-like discharge associated with a burning or itching sensation and/or soreness likely indicates a yeast infection.

Bacterial vaginosis may be associated with a grey, thin, watery discharge with a fishy or foul-smelling odor.

An abnormal discharge which is associated with abdominal pain or fever can be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a serious infection of the womb and fallopian tubes caused by chlamydia and gonorrhea. If left untreated, one can become severely unwell. There is also a risk of scarring leading to infertility.

How is a high vaginal or endocervical swab test done?

This is best done when you are not having your menses.

A speculum is inserted to open up the vaginal canal and a Q-tip-like swab is used to collect a small sample of discharge from high up inside the vagina near the cervix (entrance to the womb). There may be some mild discomfort during the swab test.

How is abnormal vaginal discharge treated?

The treatment of abnormal vaginal discharge is targeted at the underlying infection. Medications in the form of vaginal pessaries, oral tablets, or topical gels/creams may be prescribed.

What can be done to prevent abnormal vaginal discharge?

Avoiding triggers that may disrupt the natural vaginal pH and flora – these include feminine douche washes, petroleum jelly or oils for lubrication, perfumed feminine hygiene products.

Wearing cotton underwear and reducing wearing tight-fitting clothing for prolonged periods of time will allow the genital region to stay dry as well.

The correct and consistent use of condoms during intercourse will also protect against sexually transmitted infections. $ads={2}
Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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