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Vaginal Discharge: What's Normal?

Updated on July 29, 2009

Vaginal discharge is something natural and necessary for a variety of reasons. Normal (healthy) vaginal discharge can vary tremendously in appearance, texture and smell, depending on the vulva in question; some women have a natural scent that can mix with these discharge, while others don't have a noticeable odor at all. Nevertheless, loads of women and teenage girls worry about their vaginal secretions and sometimes panic over something which is absolutely normal. On the other hand, some women ignore abnormal discharge and odor, assuming it to be normal. Therefore, I've put together a little list of normal and abnormal discharges, with possible causes of the latter.

Normal Vaginal Discharge

  • Clear, elastic vaginal discharge : If you're of menstrual age, this is perfectly normal and occurs when you're particularly fertile. It has the consistency of egg-white and can resemble it in appearance. Typically, it doesn't have an odor, but if it's mixed with your bodily sweat, it may have a slight scent. It should not, however, smell pungent; nor should it be another color, such as green or yellow. Often women notice this when wiping themselves after urinating: it's not something you will necessarily see in your panties because it's not a texture that would be easily absorbed.

  • Brown discharge : If your menstrual cycle is nearing its end, you could see this in your knickers or on toilet paper when wiping yourself after urinating. Old blood turns brown when drying and that is usually what this is.

  • Clear, normal consistency discharge : This is normal throughout any phase of your menstrual cycle.

  • White discharge, slightly mucous in appearance : White is generally a safe color for discharge and this can occur at different times during your menstrual cycle. Be aware that some yeast infections can produce a thick white discharge, however. See the adjacent column for more info.

  • Pale yellow discharge: Yellow can go either way in terms of whether or not an infection is present. It's not the most common color for healthy vaginal discharge but if there aren't other symptoms of illness present, it's could be normal.

Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

  • Green discharge : Green discharge often indicates an infection of some sort, no matter where it presents in the body. If you've got green discharge of any kind, a visit to your gynecologist to rule out an infection is probably in your best interests.

  • Thick white discharge: While I've already mentioned this is often perfectly normal in terms of vaginal discharge, sometimes vaginal thrush can cause this, too. If you've got an itching or burning sensation in conjunction with thick white vaginal discharge, you may have candida/yeast infection.

  • Copious amounts of fluid: Normal vaginal discharge shouldn't be soaking your panties. Dampening them from time to time, perhaps, depending on your physiology, but if you've developed any type of extreme discharge that results in such a thing, you should see your gynecologist.

  • Foul odors: Any discharge that is accompanied by a foul or pungent odor should be examined by a gynecologist. While foul odor could be indicative of something as common as a Bacterial Vaginosis issue, foul vaginal odor is never normal and should always be treated by a physician.


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