HEALTHY/NORMAL VAGINAL DISCHARGE
The vagina contains many types of organisms that help it stay healthy. Normal vaginal discharge comes from the mucus secretions of the cervix (the neck of the uterus) and vagina, along with shedding vaginal cells. This discharge helps to keep the vagina moist and clean and is natural protection against foreign organisms. All women have vaginal discharge, although the amount and consistency may be different. Each woman's vaginal discharge will vary depending on the phase of her menstrual cycle and her level of sexual arousal.
NORMAL VAGINAL DISCHARGE IS:
- transparent or cloudy-white in color
- when dried on clothing is yellowish in color
- does not have an unpleasant odor
DO'S AND DON'TS FOR A HEALTHY VAGINA
- do wear cotton underwear
- do wipe front to back after going to the bathroom
- do change tampons frequently and after you urinate
- do use lubricated condoms with intercourse
- do use a lubricant with intercourse if your vagina feels dry (for example K-Y Jelly or Replens)
- don't douche unless instructed by your health care provider
- don't wear tight fitting pants or pantyhose
- don't use feminine products with deodorant such as sprays, powders, tampons, or sanitary pads
- don't have vaginal intercourse after anal intercourse without applying a new condom (bacteria in the rectum could be transferred to the vagina)
WHEN TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT VAGINAL DISCHARGE
Changes in vaginal discharge could mean you have a vaginal infection, a sexually transmitted infection (STI), or improper hygiene habits. Symptoms may include a change in your discharge (increased amount, change in color, foul smelling odor), vaginal itch, burning with urination, and pain or spotting with intercourse. Make an appointment with your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms. Your health care provider will ask you about your hygiene, sexual habits, and symptoms; and perform an exam. Specimens of your discharge will be taken to determine the type of problem you have, so your provider can prescribe the appropriate treatment. Your health care provider may recommend STI testing (available for a minimal fee).
This site is not meant to replace the advice of a health care professional. You should not rely on any information on these pages, or information generated for you by this site, to replace consultations with qualified professionals regarding your own specific situation.