29 7 / 2012
Vaginal discharge is normal and varies during your menstrual cycle. Before ovulation (the release of the egg), there is a lot of mucous produced, up to 30 times more than after ovulation. It is also more watery and elastic during that phase of your cycle. You may want to wear panty liners during that time.
The things to be worried about include if the discharge has a yellow or green color, is clumpy like cottage cheese, or has a bad odor. If worried, see a doctor.
Different Types of Discharge
White: Thick, white discharge is common at the beginning and end of your cycle. Normal white discharge is not accompanied by itching. If itching is present, thick white discharge can indicate a yeast infection.
Clear and stretchy: This is “fertile” mucous and means you are ovulating.
Clear and watery: This occurs at different times of your cycle and can be particularly heavy after exercising.
Yellow or Green: May indicate an infection, especially if thick or clumpy like cottage cheese or has a foul odor.
Brown: May happen right after periods, and is just “cleaning out” your vagina. Old blood looks brown.
Spotting Blood/Brown Discharge: This may occur when you are ovulating/mid-cycle. Sometimes early in pregnancy you may have spotting or a brownish discharge at the time your period would normally come. If you have spotting at the time of your normal period rather than your usual amount of flow, and you have had sex without using birth control, you should check a pregnancy test.
Is this normal?
We receive many questions about vaginal discharge through our “Ask the Expert” section. Below physician assistant Steven Johnson, explains what is normal and when to see a health care provider.
One of the challenges to answering questions sent into a health care Web site is making sure that the person asking the question seeks the advice and care from her doctor when appropriate. There is often information not given that can really change the answer.
- How old are you (really)?
- Are you on medications or do you take herbs or vitamins?
- Do you have pain or itching?
- Are you pregnant?
- Do you have other health problems (like diabetes)?
An important question is sexual activity. Sometimes it isn’t accurate to simply say yes or no. Symptoms can depend on the number of sexual partners, kind of sexual partners, birth control, birth control failure, kind of sex you are having and if abuse is involved. I think you can see, it can get pretty complicated to get all the information needed to give the best answer possible.
With that said, here is my best answer to the common question of vaginal discharge.
A normal vaginal discharge consists of about a teaspoon (4 milliliters) a day that is white or transparent, thick to thin, and odorless. This is formed by the normal bacteria and fluids the vaginal cells put off. The discharge can be more noticeable at different times of the month depending on ovulation, menstrual flow, sexual activity and birth control.
It is not uncommon for the normal discharge to be dark, brown or discolored a day or two following the menstrual period.
If you are having any of the symptoms below see your health care provider.
- Rash or sores alone or with a vaginal discharge
Remember: Not all women have a vagina and not all men have to have a penis.
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