Vaginal Health

Updated 07 February 2017

What colours are normal for a vaginal discharge?

If the colour of your vaginal discharge is not clear or white, it could indicate a serious problem. Know what to look out for.

5

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.

The colour of vaginal discharge should either be clear or white, and is a healthy bodily function – one of the ways the body cleanses and protects the sensitive environment of the vagina.

The texture may vary depending on where 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.

Keep an eye down there

Your first clue that something may be amiss down below could be an increase in the amount and texture of discharge, a slight odour or a colour change.

White

This is generally the normal colour of discharge, especially around the time of your period, but if it’s accompanied by itching and resembles lumpy cottage cheese in texture, it 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 it 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, it 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 that 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. Often this turns out to be the infection trichomoniasis, which is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

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

How to keep your vagina healthy

Maintaining a healthy vagina does not require a lot of effort, but is something you need to do. 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 more:

A bad smelling vagina

Are those skinnies irritating your vagina?

Sex toys: playing it safe

References:

HealthLine ; MedLine Plus