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Women's Health

Vaginal Discharge

NetWellness experts have received many questions about vaginal discharge. Worries about vaginal discharge are among the top concerns of women of all ages. This is most likely due to that fact that during a woman's monthly cycle and during the hormonal changes that take place during the course of her life, the consistency, color, odor, and amount of vaginal discharge can and likely will change drastically.

Symptoms

Mostly these changes simply indicate shifting hormone levels, but occasionally they do point to an infection or more serious health problem. Here is a list of normal and abnormal symptoms:

One or all of the following changes can indicate abnormal vaginal fluids:

Possible Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

There are several different kinds of health issues that may be indicated by abnormal vaginal discharge. You may be able to determine the likely cause depending on what symptoms you have. Here is a list of common infections and related symptoms:

Yeast infections may cause your discharge to become very white and thick, resembling cottage cheese. A yeast infection usually does not cause a strong odor, but it may cause severe itching and burning.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) may cause your discharge to be heavier than usual. The fluids may become foamy or frothy and grayish in color. BV often causes vaginal fluids to have an unpleasant, fishy odor.

Trichomoniasis, a common sexually transmitted disease (STD), may cause a musty, stale odor. Discharge may become grayish or yellow-green and may become thicker. Trichomoniasis also often causes vaginal itching and pain during urination.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you are having abnormal vaginal discharge it is important to visit your healthcare provider. Whether the problem is not at all serious, (like a yeast infection) or slightly more worrisome, (like some sexually transmitted diseases) it is important to find out what is causing your symptoms. A quick visit to your healthcare provider can relieve your discomfort, give you peace of mind, and keep you healthy.

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This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Aug 11, 2014

Riza T Conroy, MD Riza T Conroy, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University