Normal Vaginal Discharge

Yes! Vaginal discharge is normal and all women have some degree of discharge. Some may have more than others. This does not mean you have an infection.
The normal vaginal discharge consists of cervical and vaginal epithelium, normal bacterial flora, water and electrolytes, and other chemicals. Knowing the difference between normal discharge and infections can be difficult but there are guidelines that may help you in determining if your discharge is a normal one.
Kelly VanGilder, DO

The Healthy Vagina – The vagina serves as a passageway between the outside of the body and the inner reproductive organs. The pH balance of the vagina is acidic and this acidity is created by the normal bacterial flora in the vagina. The acidic vaginal environment helps to prevent infections. A healthy vagina produces secretions to cleanse and regulate itself. This is similar to the way saliva cleanses and regulates the oral environment. These vaginal secretions are normal and important for the health of the vagina. The vagina is often able to regulate itself so that an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria does not always lead to an actual infection of the vagina and may be self-corrected in many cases.

Normal Vaginal Discharge – It is important to note that all women have some vaginal discharge. Normal discharge may appear clear, cloudy white, and/or yellowish when dry on clothing. It may also contain white flecks and at times may be thin and stringy.
The normal menstrual cycle, emotional stressors, nutritional status, pregnancy, usage of medications (including birth control pills), menopause and sexual arousal can cause fluctuations in the normal discharge.
Effects of the Menstrual Cycle – The menstrual cycle affects the vaginal environment. You may notice increased wetness and clear discharge around mid-cycle and the discharge may get thicker after ovulation. These are normal changes. The pH balance of the vagina fluctuates during the cycle and is the least acidic on the days just prior to and during menstruation; therefore, infections are more common at this time.
Signs of Abnormal Discharge and possible infection include the following:
•Discharge accompanied by itching, rash or soreness
•Persistent, increased discharge outside of the normal fluctuations of the cycle
•Burning on skin during urination
•White, clumpy discharge (somewhat like cottage cheese)
•Grey/white or yellow/green discharge with a foul odor
It is important to note that women in the early reproductive years and the years preceding menopause may experience significant amounts of vaginal secretions but this is not necessarily a sign of infection. If you think you may have a discharge that is not physiologic in nature, make an appointment with your care provider.

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