What is Discharge Supposed to Look Like?

Normal vaginal discharge is completely healthy and serves a beneficial purpose, namely, to wash away dead skin cells and bacteria from the cervix and vagina. However, the difference between healthy, regular vaginal discharge, and discharge caused by an STD, for instance, can be quite slight. As such, it’s important that all sexually active individuals know the difference between typical and atypical discharge. So what is discharge supposed to look like in any case? Though it may vary from person to person, vaginal discharge is normally white or clear, has a slick consistency, and does not have a pungent odor. In short, vaginal discharge should appear similar to any other form of mucus found in the body.

When Does Vaginal Discharge Occur?

Vaginal discharge often begins around the time when girls go through puberty –– anywhere from ages 10-15. From then on, it may happen regularly or sporadically as a woman ages. Most women experience discharge when they’re ovulating. Furthermore, discharge can occur during arousal or sexual intercourse.

Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

As we’ve established, noticing vaginal discharge shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, inconsistencies in vaginal discharge in regard to color, consistency, frequency of occurrence, and smell may indicate a potential health problem. The bad news here is that discharge can come in a variety of forms. It may be greenish and foul-smelling; or it could be thick, white, and creamy like cottage cheese; it may contain drops of blood or have a pinkish hue; or it could be brown and metallic smelling. Trying to diagnose a medical issue based solely on the observation of strange discharge is unwise, and if you experience unusual discharge, you should get tested and consult a medical professional ASAP. (Even if unusual discharge ceases after a few days, you could still have a potentially dangerous infection in your system.) In the meantime, here are few common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge:

  • Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
  • Yeast Infections
  • Vaginitis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Chlamydia

In rare instances, extremely bloody or brown discharge could denote cervical cancer.

STD Discharge

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis are the STDs that most regularly cause unusual discharge. While all three are curable, it’s important to act quickly if you suspect you have one of these STDs. That’s because –– if left untreated –– gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and, subsequently, infertility. Therefore, should you notice a change in discharge color, consistency, or smell, get tested right away. In addition, vaginal discharge caused by STDs may contain blood, and it may cause discharge to occur more frequently than normal.

A Word from Same Day STD Testing

Every sexually active woman should understand the difference between normal and abnormal vaginal discharge. Just as importantly, though, everyone should have a plan for dealing with potential sexual-wellness issues. Rather than waiting until a problem occurs, be proactive and get tested today. At Same Day, we strive to create a discreet, patient-centric environment that protects your privacy. Contact one of our team members at 844-394-8520 for more information. And when you’re ready to get tested, find a lab near you here.

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