Your vaginal discharge helps keep your vagina clean, healthy, and lubricated. The vagina has a dynamic and well-regulated ecosystem where the balance of bacteria, pH, and moisture comes into play. Changes outside and within the body can easily affect this balance.
While it’s common for your vaginal discharge to change throughout the menstrual cycle, you might see some odd changes that may make you question if it’s normal — especially with the color.
You might start backtracking on everything you did and ate when you encounter something odd, but you shouldn’t panic immediately because many colors are actually normal. Even if there wasn’t anything different in your day-to-day life, you might want to know what these colors mean.
What colors are there in the vaginal discharge rainbow?
Clear discharge is very common. It’s usually slippery or has a consistency similar to egg whites. Your vaginal discharge is most likely going to be clear when you’re ovulating or sexually aroused, or when the vagina is rebalancing itself.
The shade of white you’ll see can range from eggshell to cream. White discharge is often normal and a sign of healthy lubrication. If it’s not accompanied by other bothersome symptoms, then you shouldn’t be worried.
Watch out for consistency and odor. Unusually thick consistency similar to cottage cheese, thin consistency, strong or fishy odor, itching, or burning may be signs of an infection. If you notice any of these along with your white discharge, it’s best to consult a doctor.
Red to Brown
Your body will usually emit red or brown bloody discharge during your period. The color can range from bright red to rusty brown. Having discharge in this color a little before or after your period might be early bleeding or just old blood dripping out.
It’s recommended to see a doctor if you experience bleeding in between periods or bloody discharge throughout the entire month.
A pink discharge may signify that there’s some bleeding going on, but that doesn’t always mean an emergency! Blush pink to deep pink discharge may mark the coming of your period or beginning of your cycle.
Sexual intercourse may also result in pink discharge, especially when there are small tears or irritation in the vagina or cervix.
Health problems may sometimes also result in pink discharge. If you notice or experience anything odd in your body, go see your doctor.
Yellow to Green
Discharge with a very light yellow hue is actually more normal than you think, and doesn’t usually mean that there’s a problem. Mucus from the vagina and cervix sometimes turn yellow when exposed to air. Changes in diet or dietary supplements can also make your discharge yellow.
Discharge with shades ranging from dark yellow to green could be a sign of an infection, especially when accompanied by other symptoms. Consult a healthcare provider if it’s thick and clumpy with strong fishy odor, and you’re experiencing itching, burning, or any vaginal discomfort.
Gray discharge is not healthy, and could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis (BV) or trichomoniasis. Other symptoms that they can also show are itchiness, irritation, strong odor, and redness around the vulva or vaginal opening.
Go see your doctor immediately if you have gray discharge. Antibiotics or antibacterial ointments may be prescribed after proper diagnosis.
When should I be worried?
Infections and changes in the level of hormones are usually the causes of changes in vaginal discharge. If you notice anything odd in the color, watch out for these other symptoms too:
- Burning sensation
- Pain or discomfort
- Strong, foul odor
- Frothy discharge
- Thick discharge, like cottage cheese
- Bleeding not related to your period
Your body will give out signs and cues when there’s something wrong. Go to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms so you can get checked and treated if necessary.