Learn all about discharge, different colour discharge, and what to do when you get discharge to stay confident all day.
Learning how to deal with discharge can be uncomfortable, but it’s also an important indicator of women’s health and fertility. Whether you’re wondering how to treat vaginal discharge if you’re recovering from an infection, or simply what to do when you get discharge on a day-to-day basis, we’ve got you covered.
As a topic many of us don’t learn about in the typical ‘period talk’ or life orientation class, you may have found yourself asking, what is vaginal discharge? Vaginal discharge is the fluid that comes out of the vagina and it is a completely normal and healthy part of a woman's reproductive system. It helps to keep the vaginal area clean and moist while also protecting it from infections, and it can tell you some important insights into your overall health and even your fertility.
The amount, colour, and consistency of vaginal discharge can vary throughout a woman's menstrual cycle. For example, during ovulation, the discharge may be clear and stretchy, while during other times of the cycle, it may be thicker and white.
However, sometimes vaginal discharge can indicate an underlying problem, such as a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. In these cases, the discharge may have a strong odour or be accompanied by itching or burning.
It's important to note that not all vaginal discharge is abnormal or requires medical attention, and that’s why we encourage you to learn about what vaginal discharge is. Knowing more about it can help you when it comes to dealing with discharge in your everyday life. However, if you're unsure or concerned, it's always a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider.
From clear and sticky to white or brown, the different discharge colours can indicate different things, from where you are in your cycle to other underlying conditions. So what do different discharge colours mean? Our handy vaginal discharge colour guide covers all the possible causes of different discharge types.
You’ll most likely notice white discharge leading up to the days when you ovulate. Why? As if our vaginas weren’t magical enough, they also tell us (through our discharge) when we’re fertile, which is super helpful if you want to conceive.
A sticky white discharge the consistency of egg whites is a completely normal part of your menstrual cycle, so if you’re wondering how to get rid of white fluid discharge or how to recover from white discharge, it’s possible there’s nothing you can do.
However, if your discharge is white, but has an unpleasant smell, is thicker than usual or has a cottage cheese consistency, talk to your doctor. White discharge with these qualities can indicate thrush (a yeast infection) or bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Clear discharge is another part of your own built-in fertility tracker and it indicates ovulation. Ovulation may cause slight pain and discomfort, breakthrough bleeding known as ovulation spotting, or a clear, stretchy discharge. You’ll notice this type of discharge around the middle of your cycle.
After ovulation, discharge changes again, sometimes turning brown just before your period arrives. This is a mixture of oxidised blood and cervical fluid, and it’s nothing to worry about if it’s a common occurrence for you, so treat it as normal. Remember: healthy discharge is mild-smelling and can range from clear to white, brown, or even light yellow in colour.
Mid-cycle bleeding (or spotting) is any light bleeding that occurs outside of your normal menstruation period. This can occur for a number of reasons, many of which are not cause for concern, while others can be a sign of a problem. The most common causes of spotting are contraceptives such as hormonal birth control, implants and injections. Stress and medication can also cause this kind of breakthrough bleeding, and light spotting before your period.
Abnormal vaginal discharge can take on a range of unusual colours. Yellow, green, or grey discharge is an indication that you may have an STI (sexually transmitted infection) or another condition like thrush. If your discharge also has a strong fishy odour or foul smell, you may be suffering from trichomoniasis, BV (a bacterial infection), or another condition. Unfortunately in these cases, home remedies will not likely work and you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Thrush and BV are not sexually transmitted, but other causes of green discharge or yellow discharge include trichomoniasis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea which are STIs.
While knowing what different discharge colours mean can be incredibly helpful to keep track of your health, it’s important to remember that the only way to treat yellow or green discharge is to seek medical advice from a doctor who can properly diagnose the condition and prescribe the appropriate medication. The same goes for managing STD discharge.
If you have white, thick and lumpy vaginal discharge, accompanied by vaginal itching you may be suffering from a yeast infection. A yeast infection, also known as thrush, is a fungal infection caused by a kind of yeast that your body has naturally, called Candida.
Apart from resulting in white cottage cheese discharge, a yeast infection can cause itchiness, redness, swelling, small cracks in the skin, and soreness or a burning sensation when you pee.
Yeast infections are most common after puberty and before menopause, but certain factors can increase your risk of developing thrush including:
You may be wondering how to treat cottage cheese discharge or a vaginal yeast infection. To treat yeast infection discharge you will need to treat the yeast infection first, which involves first speaking to a healthcare professional.
Your doctor will prescribe either antifungal cream or spray to use on your vulva (genital area), oral medication, vaginal suppositories, or a combination of these. Once you start treatment, yeast infection cottage cheese discharge should clear up between a few days to a week’s time.
So, how do you deal with vaginal discharge? Well, wearing cotton underwear, avoiding tight-fitting clothing, and practising good hygiene can all help. Additionally, using pantyliners for discharge can help absorb any excess and keep you feeling fresh and confident throughout the day.
Change your pantyliners every 3-5 hours, or more often when moist or soiled. You might find you need to change your pantyliner more frequently if you experience a large amount of discharge. Always try to keep your vaginal area dry to prevent any irritation.
Pantyliners are literally smaller, thinner pads, but their absorbency and purpose are quite different to the type of menstrual pad you want to be wearing on the second day of your period. Menstrual pads (which are larger, mostly have wings, and have higher absorbency) are specially designed for heavy flow days when you’re menstruating.
Pantyliners, on the other hand, are perfect for when your flow is too light for a pad or tampon. They cover you (and your panties) on those light flow days at the start and end of your period, when you’re spotting or have withdrawal bleeding, and for any other kind of fluids you may experience throughout the month. Cervical fluid or discharge, discharge after sexual intercourse, spotting before your period, and even urine from light incontinence, can all be dealt with using pantyliners for discharge.
Remember, vaginal discharge is a natural and normal part of being a woman. By understanding what's normal and what's not, you can take the necessary steps to maintain good vaginal health. Different textures, smells and different colours of vaginal discharge can indicate your fertility or the presence of an infection, so paying attention to your discharge is important. Normal vaginal discharge is white, off-white, or clear, and mild-smelling.
As a normal part of life, if you’re wondering how to stop discharges or how to stop excess discharge, you may be disappointed, but you can manage discharge with pantyliners. Pantyliners are a great bridge between your period and the other days in your menstrual cycle, acting as a catch-all for breakthrough bleeding as well as other fluids.
Vaginal discharge is a totally normal phenomenon, but if you’ve been experiencing abnormal discharge due to an infection, you can expect it to go away within a few days to a week of treatment.
Discharge changes based on the phases of your cycle. After ovulation has occurred, your discharge will thicken and dry up before you start your period. If you conceived, you may still experience discharge when you’re expecting your period.
Vaginal discharge is a completely natural part of the female reproductive system, so you can’t get rid of it or prevent it. Keeping up with good intimate hygiene such as washing regularly, drying properly, avoiding irritating products like douches and wearing breathable cotton underwear, will minimise your risk of infection and abnormally coloured or strong-smelling discharge.
Your discharge may come and go and change depending on where you are in your cycle. Healthy discharge is completely normal, so there is nothing you can do to make it go away. Pantyliners can help manage excessive discharge.
If you have had treatment for an infection it may take time for your discharge to return back to normal. Treatment for STIs and other vaginal infections may take over a week to respond to medical care, so you may still experience symptoms after treatment.
Yeast infections can cause cottage cheese discharge, characterised by a thick, white, clumpy appearance. Other symptoms of yeast infections include redness, itching and burning.
The birth control pill thickens vaginal discharge to make it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and fertilise an egg. Because of this, the pill may cause white vaginal discharge throughout the month.
Vaginal discharge in your pee is normal, but if you experience excessive amounts of mucous in your urine, it may be a sign of a problem. If the discharge is no longer white, off-white, or clear, discharge in the urine can indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Dark yellow, green, or grey discharge are symptoms of infection. The texture of your discharge can also indicate your vaginal health. If your discharge is chunky, frothy or foamy, you may have an infection. Normal, healthy discharge is white, off-white, or clear.