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Top 5 vaginal discharge types

Healthy vaginal discharge is normal – it is usually white, clear or yellowish without foul odor. In general, vaginal discharge is a result of normal healthy vaginal self-cleaning – it contains vaginal secretion, mucous, dead cells, bacteria and uterine discharge. Vaginal secretion keeps vagina “clean” and infection-free. Volume and appearance of healthy vaginal discharge usually changed during menstrual cycle and may be determined by shape of cervix and activities of vaginal glands. Vaginal discharge color, texture, volume, consistency and smell depend on several factors including vaginal bacteria, menstrual cycle, hormonal fluctuations, contraception type, nutrition, infections and some other factors. Reproductive organs’ peculiarities (anatomical variations) also could have influence at vaginal discharge types.

Each woman has her own specific normal vaginal discharge and changes can be identified immediately. Each specific vaginal discharge type (colored, smelled, appeared on special days) could be a symptom of several diseases and health conditions.

Top 5 vaginal discharge types – green discharge

Green vaginal discharge is a sign of vaginal infection. Main causes of green vaginal discharge include the following:

  • Trichomoniasis (sexually transmitted infection caused by Trichomonas vaginalis);
  • Chlamydia (sexually transmitted infection caused by Chlamydia trachomatis);
  • Gonorrhea (sexually transmitted infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae);
  • Bacterial vaginosis (imbalance of vaginal bacteria, overgrowth of Gardnerella vaginalis);
  • Foreign body in vagina (forgotten tampons, sex toys);
  • Lichen sclerosus (skin disease of unknown cause).

Top 5 vaginal discharge types

Above mentioned green vaginal discharge causes can also trigger other symptoms including:

  • Vaginal itching,
  • Burning sensation in vagina,
  • Vaginal foul smell,
  • Vaginal swelling and discomfort,
  • Pain during sexual intercourse,
  • Vaginal spotting (light bleeding),
  • Frequent urination,
  • Pain or burning with urination,
  • Rash in vaginal area,
  • Fever (often low-grade fever),
  • Pelvic pain.

Top 5 vaginal discharge types – brown discharge

In general, brown vaginal discharge is the indicator of old blood that has been oxidized and left uterus and/or vagina late or later (not at the time of normal regular menstrual period). Old oxidized menstrual blood could appear before or after menstrual period and it shouldn’t be a subject for concern. But sometimes brown vaginal discharge could be a sign of several health conditions.

During puberty females could experience first brown discharge during puberty – it could appear before first period and sometimes first period could look like brown vaginal discharge. It is a temporary situation and brown spotting will disappear once you start having normal regular menstrual periods.

In general, healthy women could experience 1-2 days brown spotting just before and/or after normal regular menstrual periods, sometimes during ovulation (mid cycle spotting) and/or during early pregnancy (instead of expected period).

Sometimes brown discharge can be a symptom of several diseases or health conditions including the following:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID),
  • Genital warts (HPV),
  • Gonorrhea (sexually transmitted infection),
  • Chlamydia (sexually transmitted infection),
  • Vulvovaginitis (vulvo-vaginal inflammation),
  • Menopause (naturally occurring stage in women life which means cessation of menstrual periods),
  • Hormonal dysfunctions (abnormal periods, thyroid disturbances, not compensated diabetes),
  • Endometriosis (ectopic endometrial formations),
  • Pregnancy (miscarriage threats),
  • Missed pills (forgotten birth control pills),
  • Stress (mainly chronic on-going stress),
  • Benign tumors (cysts, polyps, fibroids),
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs),
  • Cervical cancer.

Depending on main cause of brown vaginal discharge, women could experience also other unpleasant symptoms (typical for each disease) such as:

  • PID symptoms – abdominal pain, high temperature, loss of appetite, infertility, pain during vaginal test and/or vaginal intercourse;
  • HPV symptoms – vaginal lump; cauliflower-like vaginal mass, vaginal itching, rash on genitals;
  • Gonorrhea symptoms – pelvic pain, mouth lesions; heavy yellow (pus-like) vaginal discharge, infertility;
  • Chlamydia symptoms – loss of appetite, weight loss, discharge from anus, vaginal discomfort, infertility;
  • Symptoms of vulvovaginitis – pain in urethra, yellow vaginal discharge, vaginal dryness;
  • Menopause symptoms – age after 45, absence of menstrual periods more than 12 months, hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, reduced libido, weight gain;
  • Symptoms of hormonal dysfunctions – irregular periods, vaginal bleeding between periods, obesity, mood swings;
  • Endometriosis symptoms – very painful menstrual periods, infertility, brown spotting before and after periods;
  • Early pregnancy symptoms – missed period, morning sickness, breast tenderness, increased and changed appetite, smell changes;
  • Missed pills – any missed birth control pill could trigger brown spotting without any other symptoms;
  • Stress signs – chronic problems, irritation; sleeping disorders, increased sensitivity;
  • Benign tumors could exist without any symptoms but brown discharge;
  • IUDs side effects – heavy periods, local infection or inflammation caused by IUD;
  • Cervical cancer symptoms – unexpected weight loss, weakness, pain during intercourse, vaginal discharge, vaginal pain.

Top 5 vaginal discharge types – yellow discharge

Yellow vaginal discharge can be pretty alarming – it could be triggered by sexually transmitted infections and some other health conditions. Main yellow discharge causes include the following:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, Chlamydia);
  • Cervicitis (inflammation of cervix) triggered by infections or by some vaginal contraceptive devices (pessary, cervical cap, condoms, spermicides);
  • Bacterial vaginosis (vaginal bacterial imbalance);
  • Pregnancy (increased estrogen levels).

In most cases yellow vaginal discharge is accompanied with several unpleasant symptoms (typical for vaginal infections):

  • Vaginal foul smell (fishy vaginal odor typical for bacterial vaginosis),
  • Vaginal itching,
  • Irritation in genital area,
  • Burning sensation during urination,
  • Typical “strawberry cervix” (during trichomoniasis),
  • Painful intercourse,
  • Infertility.

Top 5 vaginal discharge types – white discharge

Most common white vaginal discharge looks like thick cottage cheese which is the typical sign of vaginal yeast infection (especially if it is combined with vaginal itching). Sometimes women could experience thick creamy white discharge in early stages of pregnancy due to increased vaginal secretion.

According to experts, sexual excitements could also trigger excessive thick or liquid whitish discharge which could be considered as natural lubricant for sexual intercourse. It should be mentioned that same hormones that responsible for sexual excitement are also responsible for vaginal secretion.

Top 5 vaginal discharge types – black discharge

In general, any change in color, texture and smell of vaginal discharge can indicate vaginal infections, hormonal dysfunctions, pregnancy complications and even cancer. Black discharge is a sign of old oxidized bloody bleeding (the darker the color – the older is the blood). Limited black vaginal discharge before or after menstrual period can be considered as “normal situation” (just uterine cleaning from old blood). But sometimes black discharge could be a sign of several infections and dangerous diseases. Main black discharge causes include the following:

  • Puberty so called “retained menses” – when menstrual blood is trapped in the uterus and cannot exit because of fully or partially covered entrance of vagina by hymen;
  • Foreign vaginal objects (forgotten tampon, pieces of condom, sex toy);
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID),
  • Cervical cancer.
Black discharge during menopause could be a sign of cancerous transformations.

In general, black vaginal discharge shouldn’t be ignored. If you experience on-going black discharge, it should be discussed with your doctor, especially if it is combined with following symptoms:

  • Vaginal foul odor,
  • Pelvic pain,
  • Fever,
  • Frequent urination,
  • Vaginal burning sensation.

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