Are you curious about the different kinds of vaginal discharge?
Mucus or fluid discharges are types of discharges. The vagina is self-cleaning, so it plays an important role in protecting and maintaining it.
The vaginal discharge can come in many forms, and while experiencing different types at different stages of your cycle is perfectly normal, noticing any changes is vital.
Infections in the vaginal area may or may not cause changes in vaginal discharge. There may be changes in the colour, texture and smell of your discharge, as well as irritation around the opening of the vagina.
If you’re unsure, contact your healthcare provider if you notice any changes before or after your period. Staying on top of our reproductive health can be achieved by identifying patterns in our cycles. Every cycle, there’s a lot going on down there, and this guide is to help you make sense of the colour of your discharge.
Clear or creamy
You are very likely to experience white or clear vaginal discharge. Throughout the cycle, cervical mucus can be seen in our underwear.
This mucus is most common right before ovulation, and it can change colour and consistency from clear, like that of raw egg white) to creamy.
Getting older causes the blood to turn brown – this can result in a darker vaginal discharge than our normal bright red discharge.
Brown discharge is usually not a cause for concern and may be caused by a late period or spotting caused by hormonal contraceptives.
You may experience what’s called a show or a bloody show during late pregnancy. A blood-tinged mucus plug blocks your cervix during pregnancy, and it may come out in one go or in pieces.
A brown or pink discharge can occur several days before you actually go into labour. It’s a sign that your body is getting ready to deliver the baby.
Menstruation is most commonly associated with red discharge. There are differences in amount and consistency of menstrual blood from person to person; some of us experiencing a light, bright red bleed, while others have a heavier, dark red bleed with period clotting.
The red discharge can be caused by a number of other conditions as well as menstruation, such as withdrawal bleeding (bleeding when you stop taking hormonal birth control or are between periods), spotting (bleeding between periods), or it can also indicate a serious infection such as cervical cancer.
It is also possible to experience red discharge while pregnant if you are miscarrying. Getting to know the signs and talking to your doctor if you have any concerns or experience any unexplained bleeding during early pregnancy is a wise move. Not all early pregnancy bleeding results in pregnancy loss, but it’s wise to consult your doctor.
When bleeding is light and fresh, such as at the beginning of your period, or when you experience spotting around ovulation, pink discharge can be seen as a sign of older blood. If the cervix or vagina are inflamed, you may also experience pink discharge after sex.
It’s important to know that implantation bleeding can also appear pinkish in colour for those planning a pregnancy. As implantation bleeding usually occurs eight to nine days after ovulation, it is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Despite the fact that it isn’t common, implantation bleeding can explain pink discharge that isn’t a period.
Blood mixed with cervical mucus can cause this type of discharge. You may notice it before your period or if your cycle is shorter than usual. An sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or another type of infection may also cause yellow discharge with a greenish tint.
Yellow discharge can also be a sign of other conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease or an allergic reaction.
Greenish discharge can be an indication of infection. If there’s more discharge than usual, or if it smells different, this can also indicate something is wrong.
Green discharge can be caused by a number of sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis.
Your doctor can ask questions and perform tests to confirm the cause of green discharge. Or it may also be a sign of a urinary tract infection.
It might be a sign that something is wrong if your discharge turns gray. An indication of bacterial vaginosis is gray discharge. In this case, antibiotics are used to treat a bacterial imbalance. Your urine may also smell strongly after sex, and you may feel a burning sensation after urinating.
Talk to a healthcare professional if you notice any changes in your discharge or experience any other unusual symptoms along with unexplained discharge.
What to do
Douching can upset the natural balance of organisms within your body, so it should not be used to get rid of vaginal discharge.
It is also possible to get infected by douching. Normal vaginal discharge isn’t unhealthy or unclean – your body discards fluid and old cells this way naturally.
In the event that your vaginal discharge becomes heavier or smells different, itching, burning, swelling, or there is soreness around your vagina, or if you develop pelvic pain, you should consult your doctor.
By Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar
Published in Star Newspaper, 17 Apr 2023