What are the types of yellow discharge?
In order to know whether your discharge is considered normal, there are a few factors to consider. There are many different types of vaginal discharge, and a quick assessment of the amount, color, consistency, phase of menstrual cycle, and smell of your vaginal discharge are all hints to whether you should ride it out or make an appointment with your gynecologist.
If your yellow discharge has no odor, this is a good indication that you probably don’t need to worry. Discharge with a smell hints to an infection of some sort, which means that if you have yellow discharge without odor, it may be yellow due to factors other than infection.
Light-yellow or pale-yellow discharge without odor or any other symptoms may be considered normal.
Bright yellow discharge or thick yellow discharge — especially when accompanied by an odor — is not considered normal. This is usually an indication of an infection.
Is yellow discharge normal?
There are certain circumstances in which yellow discharge is considered normal. You may notice that a few days before your period, you have a watery, pale-yellow discharge. The reason is that you begin to produce more mucus as this time of the cycle, and the yellow you’re seeing is actually a small amount of blood mixed into the discharge.
Leading up to your period, the discharge may become darker until it turns into a flow and your period arrives.
As your period begins to lighten up, the color of the blood will change from red to brown, and eventually to a brownish-yellow. This yellow discharge that you’ll notice for a few days is really just leftover menstrual blood being cleaned out of your uterus.
Yellow discharge is no considered normal when it is accompanied by a bad smell, itchiness, soreness, pelvic pain, or pain when urinating.
What causes yellow discharge?
If you have yellow discharge and you’re pretty sure it isn’t because of your period, there are a number of other things that may be causing it.
The vagina needs to maintain a specific environment in order to stay healthy. The pH, moisture level, and balance of bacteria all work together to achieve an optimal setting. When one of those things is off due to any reason, it can lead to an infection. Things like increased sexual activity, douching, taking antibiotics, and hormonal imbalances or changes can disrupt the delicate ecosystem and lead to an overgrowth or increase in “bad” microbes.
Vaginal yeast infection, also called candidiasis, is a common and very treatable condition. It happens when the yeast cells multiply out of control.
The most common symptoms of a yeast infection are:
- Itching and irritation of the vulva and vagina
- Swelling, redness, and soreness around the vagina
- Pain during sex
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Clumpy discharge often described as looking like “cottage cheese”
If you have these symptoms and you have whitish-yellow discharge, it’s possible that you have a yeast infection.
Trichomoniasis, sometimes called “trich” is a common and treatable sexually transmitted infection (STI). A large number of people affected with trichomoniasis do not know that they have it because many cases are asymptomatic.
The most common symptoms in women are:
- Green or yellow discharge that is usually frothy with an unpleasant smell
- Spotting or bleeding
- Swelling and redness of the vulva and vagina
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Pain during urination
- Pain during sex
Trich is treated with antibiotics. A person who is diagnosed with trich should inform all of their sexual partners even if they do not have symptoms.
Chlamydia or gonorrhea
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are both STIs that are often asymptomatic. They are common infections that are easily treated with antibiotics. Left untreated for a long time, these STIs may lead to complications including PID, ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain due to adhesions, infertility, complications in pregnancy and more.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to get tested for STIs frequently, especially if you’ve recently had sex with a new sexual partner or if you have multiple sexual partners.
Common symptoms of chlamydia and gonorrhea include:
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Yellow discharge pus-like and has a foul smell
- Painful urination
- Painful intercourse
- Pelvic pain
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
When an infection like chlamydia or gonorrhea goes untreated, it can spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries in an infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Many different types of bacteria can cause PID. Left untreated, it can lead to permanent damage of the reproductive organs or life-threatening infection that spreads through the blood.
Do not ignore the symptoms of PID, which include:
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Irregular periods
- Spotting or bleeding throughout the month
- Green or yellow discharge that has a foul smell
- Painful sex
- Painful urination
What does yellow discharge mean during pregnancy?
Pregnancy comes with a whole host of changes and symptoms due to increased hormones. Many pregnant women will experience an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy because estrogen levels, which are responsible for vaginal discharge, are at an all-time high.
Normally, vaginal discharge during pregnancy — also called leukorrhea — is thin, white, and mild-smelling. A slightly yellow discharge without odor may also be perfectly normal.
However, if you have green or yellow discharge that has a foul smell, it is possible that you have a vaginal infection. One of the most common infections during pregnancy is a yeast infection. Yellow discharge should definitely be checked out, especially if it is accompanied by itching, swelling, or pain in or around the vagina.
If you have a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or an STI when you give birth, it may cause infection to the baby, so be sure to visit your doctor right away if you suspect that you may have an infection during your pregnancy.
How is yellow discharge treated?
In order for your doctor to treat you for yellow discharge, he or she must first diagnose you. If you have a yeast infection, your doctor will prescribe an anti-fungal cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository. Your treatment plan will vary based on the severity of your symptoms.
Bacterial infections and STIs like the ones mentioned above are treated with antibiotics. It’s important to start treatment as soon as possible to avoid the infection spreading and turning into a more serious condition such as pelvic inflammatory disease.
Vaginal discharge is something that every woman experiences. It’s important to know how to identify if your discharge is considered abnormal. Clear, white, or slightly yellow discharge that does not have an odor is considered normal. If your discharge is green or yellow and has a foul smell, this is an indication that you may have an infection.
Don’t wait if you think you may have a vaginal infection. Make an appointment with your doctor immediately so that you can start treatment right away.