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Expelling old cells that once lined the walls of the vagina is the body’s way of keeping the vagina healthy and clean. Normal vaginal discharge is made from cells and fluid from the uterus (womb) and vagina.
The discharge is usually clear or milky-white and does not smell abnormal.
The color and thickness of vaginal discharge changes as the monthly cycle advances; for example, normal vaginal discharge is thicker and resembles egg white when a woman ovulates. Also, vaginal discharge changes when a woman is breastfeeding or when she is sexually excited.
Normal vaginal discharge has several purposes that are essential for a healthy environment of the vagina, such as :
- Cleaning and moistening the vagina
- Help in the prevention and fighting of infections
Each woman should try to notice changes in her vaginal discharge, especially if the changes are accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain, a foul smell, or skin changes, because changes may indicate a problem. A woman who thinks she might have a problem should see a doctor as soon as possible.
It’s essential that each woman learns some differences between normal and abnormal vaginal discharge, as these might help you recognize changes that may occur. Normal vaginal fluids can vary somewhat in texture and color. They can be thin, sticky, and elastic, or thick and gooey. Vaginal fluids should be clear and white to slightly yellowish when the discharge dries.
Different Types of Vaginal Discharge
- White and thick discharge is common at the beginning and end of your cycle. Normal white discharge should not have other symptoms, such as itching. If itching is present with a thick white discharge that may resemble cottage cheese, this can indicate a vaginal yeast infection.
- Clear and stretchy discharge indicates fertile mucous and means a woman is ovulating.
- Clear and watery discharge occurs at different times of the cycle and can be particularly heavy after exercising.
- Yellow or green vaginal discharge may indicate an infection, especially if it is thick or clumpy like cottage cheese, or if it has a foul odor.
- Brown discharge may happen right at the end of menstrual bleeding or after it, and it only means your vagina is cleaning out.
- Spotting blood and brown discharge may occur when you are ovulating — if this is the case, the spotting takes place in the middle of your menstrual cycle. Sometimes early in pregnancy, you may have spotting or brownish discharge at the time your period would normally appear. You should report any spotting or bleeding during pregnancy to your OBGYN. Besides, if you are spotting at the time of your normal period rather than experiencing the usual amount of menstrual flow, and if you had sexual intercourse without using birth control, you should take a pregnancy test.