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Differentiating Between Normal and Abnormal Discharge

A woman worries if her discharge is a sign of something wrong with her vagina. She notes that doctors have not found anything wrong with her.

Case #: 425


For the past 25 years, I have had a vaginal discharge (thick, white/grey and there's yellow). When there's pressure from a bowel movement, I notice there's a flow of thick white discharge. There is also irritation (itching). I've been cultured, had blood work, seen urologists, but no one seems to know what it is. Can you?


Vaginal discharge is completely normal. It is used for the vagina to cleanse itself (another reason the vagina is so remarkable!). The vagina has certain pH levels to maintain in order to protect you from germs that cause bacterial infection and discharge is just the vagina’s way to clear the bad out. There is a noticeable difference between good discharge and bad, making discharge the first clue to look to about your vaginal health.

Normal Discharge

Normal discharge can be thin or thick with a light white or clear color. It can look cloudy or yellowish when it is dry on clothing. It may have a stringy consistency when wet. The menstrual cycle will affect discharge, too. There may be more discharge in the middle of the cycle and the color or consistency may change slightly leading up to the period. There may also be an increase in discharge during pregnancy, while using birth control pills or while sexually aroused.

Abnormal Discharge

You should start worrying about your vagina if your discharge is very thick or accompanied by a foul smell. If there is persistent, constant discharge, there could be some sort of vaginal infection. Discharge causing a rash or feelings of itchiness and soreness are also a strong indicator that something foul is afoot. The vulva may be swollen and the vagina will feel very irritated. The color will change from cloudy white and yellow to more grey or green. The consistency will be chunky like cottage cheese.


Abnormal discharge is most likely to be a sign of a yeast infection. Nearly anything can cause yeast infections, from antibiotic pills to an unhealthy diet or drug and alcohol use. Excessive masturbation or intercourse may also lead to yeast infections. A yeast infection is when the vagina’s pH levels are off and too much bacteria fighting yeast (Candida albicans) is produced.

While yeast infections are incredibly uncomfortable, they are also incredibly common. Most women experience yeast infections at some point in their lives. This does not mean to discount yeast infections, though.

Knowing how a yeast infection affects your body is important. Should you have a sexually transmitted disease like chlamydia or gonorrhea, you do not want to confuse those symptoms for a yeast infections and treat it incorrectly.

Curing Discomfort

There are plenty of treatments for yeast infections, but the best cure is to take care of you to prevent anything from happening. Make sure you are always practicing good vaginal hygiene habits. Eat healthy and take vitamins to balance your diet. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.

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