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Here are 7 types of vaginal discharge — what's normal and what's NOT

POSTED: September 28, 2017 9:11 a.m.
Melinda Fox/

Do you know how to know when your discharge is healthy and when it's not?

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For some reason, no one taught me about vaginal discharge, not my parents, not my teachers. Luckily, it never seemed concerning enough for me to be alarmed by it. However, I believe it's important to be aware of our bodies' processes so that we're educated and so we can identify if something is going wrong.

Normal vaginal discharge is the fluid and dead cells that are continuously released through the vagina. It lubricates, protects against infection and overall helps to keep your vagina healthy.

Thin and clear/white

Thin and clear (like water) or white (like milk) discharge is your standard vaginal discharge that is just fluid flowing through your body to keep everything healthy and functional.

However, if you're experiencing other symptoms — such as itchiness, irritation or an unusual smell — you might have an infection. If this is you, get checked out by a doctor.

Thick and white

Discharge that's thick, white and maybe even clumpy (resembling cottage cheese), is probably a sign that you have a yeast infection — but don't worry, yeast infections aren't hard to treat.

Gray and fish-smelling

Discharge that smells like fish is a sign of bacterial infection. Oftentimes, it's also gray in color. These are indicators that you should talk to your gynecologist.

Stretchy and clear

Clear, stretchy mucus that resembles uncooked egg-white is released during your most fertile period. The presence of clear cervical mucus is probably the easiest way to know if your body is currently ovulating — the period of your cycle that you can get pregnant.

Yellow or green

First of all, discharge can turn a little yellow when it mixes with air, so if you find discharge that's slightly yellow in your underpants, don't worry about it.

However, discharge that is yellow or green, foul-smelling, thick and/or pus-like indicates infection. You should get checked out by a health professional to identify the cause of the issue.

Brown

If you're getting brown discharge at the end of your period, this is completely normal. That discharge is period blood that's been exposed to oxygen so it's turned brown. Your body is just cleaning it out.

However, if you are finding brown or bloody discharge between periods, this could indicate an issue. Talk to a gynecologist to find out what might be causing it.

No discharge

If you aren't experiencing other symptoms such as irritation, itchiness or strange odors, a lack of discharge probably isn't cause for concern. However, if it's uncomfortable for you, it might be worth talking to a health professional to address it.
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