A guide to vaginal discharge colors: What do they mean?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni

Key Takeaways

  • Vaginal discharge is a common finding and is usually harmless. Although, in some cases, a specific color, amount, or consistency of discharge may indicate an underlying health condition or disease. 
  • Vaginal discharge naturally cleanses the vagina, serves as lubrication during sexual intercourse, and may aid in the prevention of an infection.
  • Conditions such as Yeast infections, BV and STIs can all lead to changes in vaginal discharge color. Most causes of abnormal vaginal discharge can be resolved with the right treatment.

Overview

Vaginal discharge is what every woman is well familiar with, and this discharge can mirror your vaginal health. Vaginal discharge color and consistency can vary throughout the cycle. There are different colors of discharge, including clear, pink, red, brown, white, yellow, or green.

Vaginal discharge is composed of cervical mucus and vaginal secretions. There is also a variation in the amount of vaginal discharge from person to person.

Generally, vaginal discharge is normal. Occasionally, certain colors may indicate an infection or a condition that requires treatment. Normally, vaginal clear watery discharge or milky white discharge is classified as usual. The consistency can be thick or thin. Healthy discharge may have a yellowish tinge once it dries, but an odor can indicate an infection.

Pregnancy, hormone fluctuations, or infection can directly affect the amount and consistency of discharge.

Read the entire article to learn more about vaginal discharge color and its causes.

What does the color of your discharge mean?

For a woman, vaginal discharge is not exactly new and is common. Vaginal discharge is the fluid from the vagina that helps get rid of bacteria, cervical secretions, and dead vaginal skin cells. Additionally, it keeps your vagina well-lubricated. 

Your hormones directly affect the amount and consistency of vaginal discharge. That is why you may have noticed a difference in the vaginal discharge color and texture before your period, during pregnancy, or while taking hormonal birth control.

So, if you have questions like, ‘What does white discharge mean?’ or ‘Why is my discharge pink?’ continue reading for answers.

If you have unusual vaginal discharge or irregular periods; Consult a qualified profesisonal now!

What can vaginal discharge look like?

The vaginal discharge color can indicate specific conditions. The following is a comprehensive guide on what each color may represent:

Clear 

Clear discharge is considered the norm. You may notice clear discharge at various times throughout your menstrual cycle. 

Reasons for Clear Discharge

Ovulation

Clear discharge with little blood may be a sign of ovulation. During this phase of the menstrual cycle phase, the body produces a clear and stretchy discharge. Clear stretchy discharge with a little blood can be an indicator of fertility and is entirely normal. 

Sexual Arousal

Clear discharge can be your body’s response to sexual stimulation or arousal. This discharge provides lubrication during intercourse. 

Pregnancy

It is normal to experience clear or creamy white discharge during pregnancy, and even some white sticky discharge. During pregnancy, you may notice an increased amount of white creamy discharge. However, it shouldn’t have an odor. Discharge with a tinge of blood is a common finding during the last trimester. 

Pink

Pink vaginal discharge or clear pink discharge may be due to sexual intercourse or a result of implantation bleeding in early pregnancy. If you have pink discharge before your period, it may be due to your menstrual cycle or menopause.

Reasons for Pink Discharge 

Sex

Some women may experience light pink vaginal bleeding, pink-tinged vaginal discharge, or spotting after sex. Spotting can appear as pink, red, or brown. Pink thick discharge, pink vaginal bleeding or spotting after sex may be due to irritation of the vagina after rough sex or lack of lubrication. Sometimes, pink vaginal discharge or discharge with spotting may be suggestive of infections or other conditions. That is why it is best to discuss that with a doctor.

Implantation Bleeding

“Why is my discharge light pink?” may be one of the questions on your mind, and implantation bleeding may be the answer. Implantation bleeding occurs after fertilization of an egg by a sperm has occurred. When a fertilized egg erodes into the lining of the uterus, that can result in some spotting, thick light pink discharge, or blood-tinged discharge. 

Pink blood discharge or pink vaginal blood can come as a shock for some women. Although light pink discharge before the period is common and implantation bleeding occurs at a different time during the cycle, if you are still unsure what pink discharge means or have brown discharge two weeks after a period, please get in touch with one of our online doctors for clarification. 

A doctor can help diagnose your problem by evaluating the symptoms with the discharge. Get professional help now!

White

White discharge before the period or clear discharge is considered normal. However, a change in odor or consistency may indicate an infection, such as BV or a yeast infection. However, greenish-yellow mucus discharge usually means an infection.

Reasons for White Discharge 

White discharge or milky white watery discharge is usually a reflection of normal vaginal health and lubrication. Small white clumps in discharge or thick white discharge may be a sign that you have developed a yeast infection.

Normal Lubrication

Women of childbearing age have glands that are present in the cervix and produce clear mucus. This clear discharge may turn white on exposure to air. However, egg white discharge before the period may be a sign of pregnancy. You can experience different amounts of discharge during ovulation, sexual arousal, or pregnancy.

Yeast Infection

Yeast infections are prevalent and are caused by candida, which is a fungus. 

Symptoms of yeast infection include:

You may also notice pink discharge with yeast infection due to vaginal irritation. White clumpy discharge after using metronidazole gel can also occur and suggest a yeast infection. 

Yellow-Green

Yellow-green discharge is considered abnormal and is suggestive of an infection. Green-white discharge or greenish discharge are all indicators of an infection as well. 

Reasons for Yellow-Green Discharge 

Trichomoniasis

Green thick vaginal discharge or bright green vaginal discharge can be an indication of an STD known as trichomoniasis. The majority of the women infected with trichomoniasis don’t experience any symptoms. For those who portray symptoms, the vaginal discharge has the following characteristics: 

  • Thin and foamy discharge
  • green vaginal discharge
  • slimy yellow discharge
  • Foul-smelling discharge

A dark yellow discharge, neon green vaginal discharge, or light green discharge without odor or itching can indicate trichomoniasis as well. If you are unsure of exposure, it is best to get tested for STDs.

Gonorrhea

Yellow and green discharge can be caused by gonorrhea, also known as “the clap,” This STD may cause yellow and cloudy discharge or result in a white discharge.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a prevalent STI. Many people can be symptomless, while others experience yellow-green discharge without odor, green discharge with odor, yellow mucus discharge, or even white discharge.

If you require treatment of white discharge in females or want to know what yellow discharge means, please consult your doctor. 

CTA: Green or yellow discharge can be a sign of STD. Talk to our doctor for a prescription! 

Red

Blood in vaginal discharge, blood-tinged discharge, or brown discharge can be due to menstruation, infections, menopause, or even cervical cancer. 

Reasons for Red Discharge 

Irregular Menstrual Cycle

Red-tinged, brown, or blood-in discharge can occur at various times during the menstrual cycle. Some women may notice red, pinkish discharge or spotting a few days before and after their periods.

At other times, spotting or discharge with a tinge of blood can occur during the cycle. Spotting can be pink, red, or brown and usually occurs during the time when you are not supposed to be bleeding. 

Menopause

Spotting or brownish-red discharge, brown discharge after a period, brown discharge before a period, or brown-red discharge can occur when women reach menopause around their mid-40s. The changes in hormone levels cause the periods to be lighter or heavier, shorter or longer. Spotting and discharge between periods or red/pink discharge or brown or bloody mucus discharge is also a common finding.

Cervical Cancer

What does it mean when your discharge is pink? The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of the majority of cervical cancers.

Early-stage cervical cancer may present with no symptoms. Pinkish brown discharge, red, brown, watery, pale, brown-gray, or bloody vaginal discharge can indicate cervical cancer.

Discuss your symptoms with a healthcare profesisonal to rule out the possibility of anything serious.

Gray

What does gray discharge mean? Gray discharge is also not normal and usually indicates an infection.

Reasons for Gray Discharge 

Bacterial Vaginosis

BV, or bacterial vaginosis, commonly causes gray vaginal discharge. The discharge may be whitish and usually has a fishy odor. BV can also present with itching and a burning sensation in the vagina.

When to Consult a Doctor

Are you concerned about your discharge? What does it mean when your discharge is pink? How do you stop brown discharge after a period? If you require answers to these questions or are looking for a vaginal discharge color guide, chat with one of our online doctors at Your Doctors Online to learn more!

FAQs About Vaginal Discharge Color Answered by Your Doctors Online Team

What does STD discharge look like?

STDs present as a foul-smelling discharge or a different color. It can be white, green, yellow, or a different color than normal.

What does gonorrhea discharge look like?

Gonorrhea can present as thick green or yellowish discharge from the penis or vagina.

When should I be concerned about discharge?

 If you have noticed any changes to color, consistency, or odor in your discharge, talk to a doctor.

What is an unhealthy amount of discharge?

If you have continuous discharge daily, it is advisable to see a doctor. Although, a teaspoon of discharge a day is considered normal.

How often is too much discharge?

More than 4ml discharge accompanied by other symptoms like itching and odor might indicate an underlying health condition or an infection.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

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  • Merck Manual. Vaginal Bleeding
  • Drugs.com Vaginal Discharge
  • Sim M, Logan S, Goh LH. Vaginal discharge: evaluation and management in primary care. Singapore Med J. 2020 Jun;61(6):297-301. doi: 10.11622/smedj.2020088. PMID: 32754764; PMCID: PMC7905126.
  • Natural Cycles. 7 vaginal discharge colors explained

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