White discharge


Vaginal discharge is most often a normal and regular occurrence. Certain types of discharge that can indicate an infection. Abnormal discharge may be yellow or green, chunky in consistency, or foul smelling. Yeast or a bacterial infection usually causes abnormal discharge.

Types and causes of vaginal discharge

Some types of discharge are normal. Others may indicate an underlying condition requires treatments.

White discharge

A bit of white discharge, at the beginning or end of your menstrual cycle, is normal. If the discharge is accompanied by itching and has a thick, cottage cheese-like consistency or appearance, it’s not normal and needs treatment.


A thick, white discharge can occur throughout your menstrual cycle.

This discharge is known as leukorrhea, and it’s completely normal.

The discharge may start out thinner in the days leading up to ovulation, or when an egg is released. During ovulation, the discharge or mucus may become very thick, and mucus-like. After ovulation, that amount can increase up to 30 times.

What causes Clear and watery discharge?

A clear and watery discharge is perfectly normal. It can occur at any time of the month. It may be especially heavy after exercise.

What causes thick, white, sticky discharge?

When you’re not ovulating, your body will produce vaginal fluid that is thick and sticky. This vaginal discharge is to prevent sperm from getting through your cervix and into your uterus.

What causes milky white discharge?

In the first days of your menstrual cycle, will have thin, milky white vaginal discharge. This discharge as an “egg white” consistency.

This thinner discharge is a sign that you’re preparing for ovulation. It’s completely normal. Closer to your period, the discharge may become thicker and more opaque.

This milky white discharge may also be a sign that you’re pregnant.

This discharge results from hormonal changes, which are preparing the body for the nine months of pregnancy.

Common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include milky white and gray discharge with a strong, bad odor.

What causes thick, white, clumpy discharge?

A thick, white discharge that can be described as clumpy or clotted, yeast infection. A fungus called Candida albicans can develop into an infection.

People with yeast infections may experience:

  • thick discharge with a cottage cheese consistency
  • white discharge that may turn yellow or green
  • A foul odor coming from the vagina
  • Itching on the vulva or vagina
  • Swelling or redness around the vulva
  • A burning sensation or pain during urination
  • Pain during intercourse.

What causes Clear and stretchy

When discharge is clear but stretchy and mucous-like, rather than watery, it indicates that you are likely ovulating. This is a normal type of discharge.

What causes Brown or bloody discharge?

Brown or bloody discharge is usually normal, it occurs during or right after your menstrual cycle. A late discharge at the end of your period can look brown instead of red. A small amount of bloody discharge between periods. This is called spotting.

Brown or bloody discharge can be a sign of endometrial or cervical cancer. It could be other problems such as fibroids or other abnormal growths.

What causes Yellow or green discharge?

A yellow or green discharge, especially when it’s thick, chunky, or accompanied by an unpleasant smell, isn’t normal. This discharge may be a sign of the trichomoniasis.

Other Causes of vaginal discharge

Abnormal vaginal discharge, however, is usually caused by an infection.

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is a common bacterial infection. It causes increased vaginal discharge that has a strong, foul, and sometimes fishy odor.


Trichomoniasis is caused by a protozoan, or single-celled organism. It causes yellow or green discharge that has a foul odor. Pain, inflammation, and itching are also there.

Gonorrhea and chlamydia

Gonorrhea and chlamydia are sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can produce an abnormal discharge. It’s often yellow, greenish, or cloudy in color.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occurs when bacteria spread up the vagina and into other reproductive organs. It may produce a heavy, foul-smelling discharge.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) or cervical cancer

The human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to cervical cancer. While there may be no symptoms, this type of cancer can produce a bloody, brown, or watery discharge with an unpleasant odor.

Birth control

Birth control changes your hormone levels, which can lead to increased discharge. This is a normal side effect of hormonal birth control.


Discharge before you’re supposed to get your period can be an early sign of pregnancy. Discharge from pregnancy can be hard to tell apart from discharge that is just part of your monthly cycle, but it is usually thicker and creamier than “normal” discharge.

When to seek medical help

If you have unusual discharge and other symptoms, see doctor

  • Fever
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Increased urination
  • Pain, burning, or other discomfort in and around the vagina
  • Rash or sores with or without discharge
  • Cottage cheese or frothy textured discharge
  • Strong or foul vaginal odor
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Bleeding
  • Skipped period
  • A burning sensation when you urinate or have intercourse.
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