Normal vaginal discharge has several purposes: cleaning and
moistening the vagina, and helping to prevent and fight infections.
Although it's normal for the color, texture, and amount of
vaginal fluids to vary throughout a girl's
, some changes in discharge may indicate a problem.
If you think you may have a problem, you should see a
doctor as soon as possible. First, though, it helps to learn
some of the differences between normal and abnormal vaginal
discharge. This will help you to recognize changes that may
Normal vaginal fluids can vary somewhat in texture and color.
They can be somewhat thin, sticky, and elastic or thick and
gooey. Vaginal fluids should be clear, white, or off-white in
It's important to keep an eye out for changes in vaginal
fluids. The following changes may indicate a problem:
- change in odor (especially an unpleasant odor)
- change in color or texture (especially greenish,
grayish, or anything looking like pus)
- vaginal itching, burning, swelling, or redness
- vaginal bleeding or spotting that is
a menstrual period
Vaginal infections, such as bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis
(yeast infection), and trichomoniasis are common causes of abnormal
vaginal discharge. Some infections are transmitted by having sex,
. Other infections can occur with or without having sex, such
as bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection.
Although the symptoms of these infections can be very similar,
there are some differences to look for:
may cause your discharge to become very white and thick,
resembling cottage cheese. A yeast infection usually does not
cause a strong odor, but it may cause severe itching and
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV) may cause your discharge to be
heavier than usual. The fluids may become foamy or frothy and
grayish in color. BV often causes vaginal fluids to have an
unpleasant, fishy odor.
, a common
sexually transmitted disease (STD)
, may cause a musty, stale odor. Discharge may become grayish or
yellow-green and may become thicker. Trichomoniasis also often
causes vaginal itching and pain during urination.
It's very important to see a doctor or go to a teen
clinic if you have any of the symptoms of abnormal vaginal
discharge. This is really important for girls who have had sex,
especially those who have had sex without using a
, since many STDs cause changes in vaginal discharge.
Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: November 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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