Believe it or not, but vaginal discharge plays a vital role in reproductive health and the way the reproductive system functions! Discharge forms in the glands of the cervix and vagina, and moves out of the vagina each day to get rid of old blood cells. This keeps the vagina healthy, and forms part of the self-cleaning process of the vagina. Discharge also prevents the growth of bacteria and infections by getting rid of old blood cells.
Typically, discharge should be either clear or milky white and there shouldn’t be a strong unpleasant odor. Generally, the scent should be mild. The colour and consistency of discharge also changes throughout the menstrual cycle which is perfectly normal. However, if you notice dramatic changes to the smell, colour or consistency of your discharge, particularly if you haven’t experienced it before, it could be a sign that something isn’t right and there may be an overgrowth of bacteria.
If your discharge looks like white cottage cheese (thick and white) it may be a yeast infection. Other symptoms include of a yeast infection include itchiness, burning, pain, pain during sex, redness or swelling around the vulva. In this situation, it’s best to go to a doctor so they can prescribe a treatment for you.
White, yellow or grey discharge could be bacterial vaginosis. This is often combined with a fishy odour, swelling or itchiness of the vulva. If you’re experiencing this you should go to a doctor as soon as possible to get it checked out and get a prescription.
Yellow or green discharge that’s also very thick could be a symptom of Trichomoniasis which is an STI caused by a parasite. You would need medical attention to treat this. If your discharge is brown or bloody towards the end of your period, or during the last days of your period this is normal. It will clear up in a few days. However, if you didn’t get your period and your discharge is brown or bloody all of a sudden, combined with irregular menstruation, pelvic pain or vaginal bleeding it could be something a lot more serious. Making a doctor’s appointment is highly recommended in this situation.
Lastly, if your discharge is cloudy or yellow it might be a symptom of Gonorrhea, which is a also an STI. Other symptoms which may accompany this type of discharge is pelvic pain. If this is the case, consult with your doctor.