The Different Types of Vaginal Discharge

30 December, 2019
The types of vaginal discharge are usually classified according to color, but they also vary in consistency, abundance, and odor.

Although most people are unaware of it, or are too embarrassed to talk about it, it’s true that there are different types of vaginal discharge. This is because it can change as regards its odor, color, and quantity.

Vaginal discharge is, as its name suggests, a series of secretions by some glands present in the vagina. This liquid is absolutely normal and necessary, since it fulfills many functions needed to maintain vaginal health.

One of them is that it allows the vagina to “clean” itself. In other words, it helps eliminate dead cells and bacteria, which helps prevent infections. Moreover, it’s a great indicator of the state of health of the female reproductive system.

All the changes in this flow can help you detect illnesses. Therefore, this article will explain the different types of vaginal discharge that exist and what each of them means.

Why do different types of vaginal discharge appear?

A woman with abundant vaginal discharge.

Vaginal discharge can be altered due to the presence of infections or sexually transmitted diseases.

First of all, before we start mentioning the different types of vaginal discharge, you should know that, physiologically, the discharge changes throughout the menstrual cycle. In other words, there are different types of discharge for each moment of the cycle. This is completely normal.

In this regard, the secretions change depending on the female hormones, which also vary during the cycle. For example, when ovulation is right around the corner, the discharge tends to increase and be thicker. This is because reproduction plays a role and helps prepare the woman for fertilization.

In the same way, when a woman is sexually aroused, the discharge increases. Typically, it’s clear or milky white. However, it can also be watery, transparent, and more or less abundant.

In addition, you should know that all types of vaginal discharge have a characteristic odor, and this shouldn’t embarrass women. In fact, every woman should know what smell is normal, as an infection or disease can alter it.

You may like this article: 5 Home Remedies to Control Excess Vaginal Discharge and Odors

Types of vaginal discharge

A woman examining herself.

The types of vaginal discharge can be distinguished by characteristics such as color, odor, consistency, and quantity. An infection or illness can alter these patterns in some way.

The most important thing when it comes to distinguishing the types of vaginal discharge is the color. However, it’s also important to analyze the smell, consistency, and quantity. An infection or disease can alter any of these characteristics.

First of all, as we already mentioned, the discharge can be white, which is normal. However, when it becomes more grayish and abundant, it can be a bad sign. If the discharge is white but you’re also suffering from itching or burning, you may have candidiasis.

Candidiasis is a very common infection in women caused by the yeast Candida. Many studies state that it’s one of the most common vaginal disorders. It’s related, among other things, to changes in the vagina’s pH.

Moreover, the discharge can be yellowish. In these cases, it’s usually accompanied by a strong odor and other discomforts such as itching or burning. This is a sign that you’re suffering from an infection, either a sexually transmitted disease or not. The more common ones are trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

Your discharge can even be brown because it has traces of blood. This type of discharge often appears just before or after menstruation. It can also be due to a small wound caused by sexual intercourse.

However, if the discharge doesn’t change color, it may be indicative of more severe diseases, such as cancer. Likewise, it can occur if there’s a foreign body in the vagina that’s causing irritation.

This article may interest you: Try these 5 Home Remedies to Help you Control Vaginal Discharge

Conclusion

There are numerous types of vaginal discharge because it’s a secretion that, in itself, changes physiologically. Thus, it’s important to pay attention to all its aspects, since a change in color or amount may indicate an illness.

It’s also essential to pay attention to the odor. This is because it’s one of the parameters that infections tend to alter. However, it’s advisable to always go to the gynecologist if you have any questions or changes in discharges, so that they can check it out to see if it’s normal or not.

  • Spence D, Melville C. Vaginal discharge. BMJ. 2007;335(7630):1147–1151. doi:10.1136/bmj.39378.633287.80
  • Sánchez-Hernández, J. A., González-Belén, L., Rojas-Valderrama, K., & Muñoz-Zurita, G. (2017). Prevalencia de Candida albicans y su relación con cambios en el pH vaginal. Atención Familiar, 24(1), 18–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.af.2017.01.003
  • Sivaranjini R, Jaisankar T, Thappa DM, et al. Spectrum of vaginal discharge in a tertiary care setting. Trop Parasitol. 2013;3(2):135–139. doi:10.4103/2229-5070.122140
  • Zemouri C, Wi TE, Kiarie J, et al. The Performance of the Vaginal Discharge Syndromic Management in Treating Vaginal and Cervical Infection: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS One. 2016;11(10):e0163365. Published 2016 Oct 5. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0163365
  • Mitchell H. Vaginal discharge–causes, diagnosis, and treatment. BMJ. 2004;328(7451):1306–1308. doi:10.1136/bmj.328.7451.1306