Vaginal discharge is a result of normal healthy vaginal self-cleaning. Vaginal discharge is a mixture of vaginal secretion, mucous, dead cells, bacteria and uterine discharge. Color, texture, volume, consistency and smell of vaginal discharge depend on several factors including vaginal bacteria, menstrual cycle, hormonal fluctuations, type of contraception, nutrition, infections, period of reproduction cycle and other factors. Some anatomical peculiarities also could have influence at vaginal discharge. Volume and consistency of vaginal discharge may be determined by the shape of cervix and number of internal glands. The combination of increased blood, hormonal changes and bigger cervical glands often result in a lot of discharge during pregnancy. Different women have different hormonal status, different vaginal bacteria, different anatomical peculiarities, different reproductive and sexual life and different contraception. This is why each woman has her own specific normal vaginal discharge.
Normal vaginal discharge characteristics
Healthy (normal) vaginal discharge is usually white, clear or yellow without foul odor. Volume and appearance of normal vaginal discharge can be changed during menstrual cycle. For example, after menstrual period vaginal discharge is usually watery in consistency; during ovulation, vaginal discharge is becoming thicker and sticky (like egg white).
Normal vaginal discharge color
Normal vaginal discharge is usually clear or white but it can look yellowish when it dries. Vaginal discharge depends on hormonal fluctuations of menstrual cycle. At the beginning of normal menstrual cycle, vaginal discharge tends to be more dry and sticky. During follicular phase of menstrual cycle, vaginal discharge become creamy and whitish. In the middle of menstrual cycle (before, during and after ovulation) vaginal discharge can be stretchy, wet and transparent. During premenstrual period, vaginal discharge can be again dry and sticky.
Vaginal discharge color is very important indicator and sometimes it is a symptom of specific vaginal infections. Yellow, green, gray, brown or black vaginal discharge can be a symptom of vaginal infections (mainly sexually transmitted diseases).
Normal vaginal discharge
Normal vaginal discharge scent
Normal vaginal discharge may have very specific mild scent or it can be odorless. Each woman has unique vaginal bacterial environment and specific vaginal secretion from glands. Vaginal discharge scent is a combination of several factors including natural vaginal environment (bacteria and secretion), body natural odor, smell of consumed food and spices, scent of used soap, shampoo and deodorants. Vaginal discharge scent of each woman is unique – kind of fingerprint of specific smell.
Unusual strong foul or fishy or metallic vaginal discharge smell could be a symptom of vaginal infections (mainly bacterial vaginosis or sexually transmitted diseases).
Normal vaginal discharge texture
Normal vaginal discharge texture can vary from paste-like and sticky to clear and stretchy, depending on menstrual cycle (hormonal fluctuations) and sexual arousal. Cottage cheese discharge or lumpy or foamy vaginal discharge should be considered as abnormal.
Normal vaginal discharge volume
Normal vaginal discharge volume can vary. In most cases it depends on menstrual cycle –medium volume during follicular phase of cycle, increased volume during ovulation and decreased volume before expected menstrual period. Discharge volume usually increases during pregnancy and sexual arousal.
In general, it is normal to experience vaginal discharge variations during different phases of menstrual cycle as well as during difficult life circumstances (stress, contraception, sexual activities, pregnancy, etc.)
Abnormal vaginal discharge
Significant and/or sudden vaginal discharge changes in color, texture, consistency and smell should be considered as a symptom of abnormalities. It could be vaginal irritation or inflammation, vaginal infections or “forgotten” objects, lack of vaginal hygiene or vaginal contraception and even cervical cancer.
Most common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge:
Bacterial vaginosis (disbalance of vaginal environment),
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.