Vaginal Infection

Updated 29 October 2014

The colours of vaginal discharge: what’s normal?

It may be slippery, even stretchy, but if it’s not clear or white, the colour of your vaginal discharge could indicate a more serious problem. Know what to look out for.

Vaginal discharge is a touchy subject for many women, but knowing what to look out for and recognising a change in normal discharge could keep you on the right side of a healthy vagina.

It’s important to remember that vaginal discharge, if clear or white is a healthy bodily function.

It is one of the ways the body cleanses and protects the sensitive environment of the vagina.
The normal colour of vaginal discharge is either clear or white.

The texture may vary depending on where about you are in your ovulation cycle. But any change in colour, together with certain other symptoms, is generally indicative of an infection and requires medical attention.

The main culprits for upsetting the delicate internal bacteria balance in the vagina include:

- Antibiotic use
- Contraceptive medications
- Douching
- Diabetes
- Pregnancy
- Stress
- Wearing underwear that is too tight or synthetic

Read: Remedy your vaginal infection

Keep an eye down there

Your first clue that something is amiss down below could be an increase in the amount and texture of discharge, a slight odour or a colour change.
White: Although this is generally the normal colour of discharge, especially around the time of your period, if it’s accompanied by itching and resembles cottage cheese in lumpy texture, this may signal a yeast infection and warrants treatment.
Clear: This is the discharge you want – it’s clear and watery and is perfectly normal. It can occur at any time, although may be particularly prevalent after exercise. If it’s clear but a bit sticky/stretchy and resembles mucous it merely suggests you are ovulating and is nothing to be concerned about.

Brown: If this type of discharge occurs during your period it is normal, even if it contains a bit of blood, and if it occurs at the end of your period it may just be residual menstrual blood.  However, if you have a more bloody, spotty discharge between your periods this may indicate pregnancy. In very rare instances it can indicate cervical cancer, so if you are concerned it’s best to get a medical check-up.

Yellow or green: A discharge which is thick in texture and has a greenish or yellowish-tinge to it is not a sign of a healthy vagina, especially if it has a bad odour too. Often this turns out to be the infection trichomoniasis, which is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

How to keep your vagina healthy

A healthy vagina does not require a lot of effort, but has great rewards. In order to protect the vagina and prevent the risk of infection, stick to the following guidelines:

- Keep it clean and dry
- Wear cotton underwear.
- Never douche – this removes natural vaginal bacteria.
- Always practice safe sex
- Eat a healthy diet , especially when taking antibiotics and increase your intake of yogurt with live and active cultures.
- Avoid feminine hygiene products in the genital area
- Use pads and not tampons.
- Keep your blood sugar levels under good control if you have diabetes.

Read: Prevent vaginal infection

Amy Froneman (ACE-certified personal trainer. The KettleBelle – Personal Training), April 2014.


HealthLine ; MedLine Plus

Read more:
A bad smelling vagina
Are those skinnies irritating your vagina?
Sex toys: playing it safe


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.