vaginal discharge has several purposes: cleaning and moistening
the vagina and helping to prevent and fight infections. Although
it's normal for the color, texture, and amount of vaginal fluids
to vary throughout a girl's menstrual cycle, some changes in discharge
may indicate a problem.
If you think you may have a problem, you should see a doctor as
soon as possible. First, though, it helps to learn some of the differences
between normal and abnormal vaginal discharge. This will help you
to recognize changes that may occur.
Normal vaginal fluids can vary somewhat in texture and color. They
can be somewhat thin, sticky, and elastic or thick and gooey. Vaginal
fluids should be clear, white, or off-white in color.
It's important to keep an eye out for changes in vaginal fluids.
The following changes may indicate a problem:
- change in odor (especially an unpleasant odor)
- change in color or texture (especially greenish, grayish, or
anything looking like pus)
- vaginal itching, burning, swelling, or redness
- change in color that is caused by vaginal bleeding or spotting
that is not a menstrual period
Vaginal infections, such as bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis
(yeast infection), and trichomoniasis are common causes of abnormal
vaginal discharge. Some infections are transmitted by having sex,
such as gonorrhea. Other infections can occur with or without having
sex, such as bacterial vaginosis or yeast infection.
Although the symptoms of these infections can be very similar,
there are some differences to look for:
It's very important to see a doctor or go to a teen clinic if you
have any of the symptoms of abnormal vaginal discharge. This is really
important for girls who have had sex, especially those who have had
sex without using a condom. Many STDs cause changes in vaginal discharge
or cause other infections that affect discharge as well.
- 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
- 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,
- 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.