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What is Vaginal Discharge?

Our expert explains what’s up down there and why......just why?!?

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Photo credit: Getty Images
A young woman with dark curly hair is using mobile phone. Female is smiling while holding smart phone. She is lying on sofa at home.

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Dear Doctor,

I have an embarrassing question: Is it normal to have vaginal discharge? And why is it always different? What’s happening?

Sincerely,

“Privately Perplexed”

Dear Perplexed:

Vaginal discharge is mucus that’s produced by glands in the cervix and vagina and is very common, especially among women of childbearing age. It also serves an important purpose: to provide the appropriate environment to allow for conception. You’ve probably noticed that the amount and type of discharge you produce varies depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle—before ovulation, when your ovaries begin to prepare an egg to be released, your discharge will appear clearer and take on the consistency of egg whites.  This is your most fertile time in your cycle. Other things that can alter the normal production of discharge include antibiotic or steroid use, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control pills, and certain diseases including diabetes and cancer.

As I mentioned, normal vaginal discharge can range from clear, thin and “yolky” to thick and white and even a little yellowish, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. However, if there is a strong odor to your discharge, if it is green or grey in color, if there is more blood than usual present, or if you experience itchiness in or around the vagina or abdominal cramping, it could be a sign of an infection. Call your doctor if this is the case, as medication may be necessary.

Bottom line: Vaginal discharge may be annoying, but it actually tells us a lot about what’s going on in your body. And that’s a good thing.

“Normal vaginal discharge can range from clear, thin and “yolky” to thick and milky and even a little yellowish, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. ”
Dr. Stephanie McNally, OB/GYN
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Dr. Stephanie McNally, OB/GYN | Photo credit: The Well

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Published February 19th, 2019
A young woman with dark curly hair is using mobile phone. Female is smiling while holding smart phone. She is lying on sofa at home.

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