The Colour of Vaginal Discharge & What It Tells You

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Vaginal discharge is an everyday occurrence in many women’s lives across the world, but what is it really? Does the change in its colour over the course of a month or even the course of our lives mean anything different or specific? Or are we just supposed to accept the God-gifted sensation of wetness quietly?

What is vaginal discharge made of?

A transparent, watery discharge that is produced from every woman’s vagina, the vaginal discharge is made up of different cells and fluids. It typically aids in cleaning and flushing the vagina, balancing the yeast and the resident healthy bacteria population in the vagina, thereby ensuring vaginal hygiene. The discharge maintains an acidic environment at the vaginal opening to deter incoming infections and growth of harmful bacteria in the reproductive tract.

What causes the different types of vaginal discharges?

Depending on the time of the month, a woman’s vaginal discharge changes colour and consistency (ranging from sticky white to watery clear for a healthy and clean vagina). However, a number of factors play an important role in defining this discharge – namely age, hormone levels, pregnancy, consumption of birth control pills, infection, etc. Even a tiny change in this essential fluid indicates an internal imbalance and/or comprise of security of vaginal hygiene, allowing the bacteria to enter the reproductive system.

What do these differently coloured vaginal discharges indicate?

Sr. No.


Odour and consistency



Watery, mucus-like discharge

Odourless and stretchy

  • Normal discharge. Not harmful. Though it may turn uncomfortable by severely wetting panties (often enough).
  • Secreted at the time of ovulation. Helps in conception by easing the sperm’s way into the ovum to help fertilise the egg.
  • Seldom, it also signals early pregnancy when the body goes into an overdrive to produce lots of mucus for the uterine plug.


Cheesy or cloudy discharge

Foul smelling with fish-like stench.

Thick consistency.

  • It is usually accompanied by vaginal swelling, pain in the lower parts of the abdomen and burning sensation during urination.
  • It usually indicates the onset of yeast infection and/or bacterial vaginosis.


Yellow discharge (shades of the colour may range from pale to dark yellow)

Fish like stench.

Creamy texture.

  • May indicate bacterial vaginosis and/or sexually transmitted diseases (like gonorrhoea).
  • Other symptoms may include flaring pain during urination, painful intercourse, vaginal itching and aches in the lower abdomen.


Neon green discharge

Sour fishy odour. Pasty feel

  • It may be the result of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like trichomoniasis or chlamydia.
  • Urinary troubles, random and acute pelvic pains, sore and red vagina and blood spotting between periods usually accompany it.


Pink discharge


Blood-stained discharge

  • Hormonal contraceptives
  • Ovulation
  • Embryo implantation
  • Shedding of the lining of the uterus after birthing (i.e. lochia)
  • Hormonal imbalance (pre-menopausal, menopausal, low progesterone)
  • Partial menstruation 
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • STD
  • Cervical cancer


Grey discharge

Strong smelling. Milky white discharge

  • It can be caused due to bacterial vaginosis. It leads to vaginal itching and swelling and painfully burning urination.


Brown discharge


  • It indicates old uterine lining tissues were not expelled properly during the previous periods thereby, turning brown.
  • Placenta related difficulties during pregnancy
  • Embryo Implantation in pregnancy
  • Changing hormonal levels prior to menopause

It may also indicate a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy - wherein the fertilized egg embeds itself outside of the uterine walls, somewhere along the fallopian tubes.


Thick white discharge

Curdy white, thick, and severely itchy

Symbolises a severe bout of yeast infection

While the normal watery mucus type of discharge is odourless and very healthy, as it –

  1. Protects the reproductive system from outside infections
  2. Lubricates vagina for intercourse
  3. Maintains vaginal health and reproductive system hygiene

In case of other types of discharges, it is best to visit your gynaecologist at the earliest to start with effective treatments and nip the problem right in the bud.

In general, it is a good idea to –

  1. Use sanitary napkins instead of tampons during menstruation and change them every 4-5 hours at least
  2. Use pure cotton panties and change them at least twice during the course of the day
  3. Quit vaginal douching
  4. Avoid fragrant soaps and use plain warm water with a mild soap to wash the vaginal area often everyday











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