- What Is Yellow Discharge?
- When to See the Doctor
- Discharge During Pregnancy
- Is Discharge During Pregnancy Normal?
- Different Vaginal Discharge Colors
What is yellow discharge?
Discharge is vital to keeping your vagina moist. It creates the right balance between the naturally occurring bacteria and yeast that are always present in your vagina.
Healthy discharge is generally clear, watery, pale yellow, or white. It doesn’t have an intense smell or strong color.
The amount and color of discharge will typically vary depending on where you are in your cycle. It’s the heaviest close to ovulation and increases with sexual arousal.
Vaginal discharge is affected by many different factors, such as:
- Scented soaps or bubble bath
If you notice a yellow discharge, you’ll want to pay attention to your body and check for other symptoms.
Signs of yellow discharge
Yellow discharge can be anywhere from light yellow to a darker yellow-greenish. It’s noticeable in your underwear or on toilet paper after using the bathroom.
A pale yellow without any odor is considered normal.
Causes of yellow discharge
The causes of yellow discharge may or may not be a sign of infection.
You’ll need to check to see if you have any other symptoms in addition to the discharge. The amount, smell, and timing of the discharge can help you determine the cause. There are several possible causes, including:
Thin yellow discharge near the time you start your period is common. The yellow is due to early menstrual blood mixed with regular mucus discharge.
Thick yellow discharge can be an early sign of pregnancy.
Vaginitis is another cause of yellow discharge.
Vaginitis is an irritation or inflammation in the lining of your vagina. This can produce redness, odor, and pain.
Poor hygiene that allows fecal bacteria to spread to the vulva is another major source of infections.
Infections that cause vaginitis are not always sexually transmitted. However, all sexually transmitted diseases can cause vaginitis.
The most common infections that cause vaginitis are yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
It’s important to be aware of your body and what’s normal for you in order to evaluate any new symptoms.
Yeast infection symptoms include:
Bacterial vaginosis symptoms include:
- White, gray, or yellow discharge
- Burning and itching
- Fishy odor
Sexually transmitted disease
These STDs don’t always have symptoms. It’s possible to have them and be asymptomatic or to have only some of the symptoms but not all of them.
Gonorrhea symptoms include:
- Yellowish to green, slightly creamy discharge
- Sharp pain in the stomach
- Burning during intercourse and while urinating
Chlamydia symptoms include:
- Abnormal yellow to green discharge
- Burning during intercourse and while urinating
- Yellowish to greenish watery discharge
- Unpleasant smell
- Mild discomfort or pain while urinating
When to see the doctor for yellow discharge
You should see your doctor if you have yellow discharge and it:
- Changes color
- Smells foul or fishy
- Feels sore or itchy
- Causes you any pain in the pelvic area, especially when urinating
Diagnosis for yellow discharge
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose the medical issue that your yellow discharge may be a symptom of.
Your doctor will do a pelvic exam to diagnose the cause of the yellow discharge. During a pelvic exam, your doctor will take a sample of your discharge that will be screened for infections. If you’re sexually active, they will also determine whether you have any sexually transmitted diseases.
It’s essential not to use any spermicide or douche before the pelvic exam to ensure you have an accurate sample.
Treatments for yellow discharge
Once your doctor diagnoses the medical reason for your yellow discharge, it can be treated relatively quickly in most cases. Treatment is typically a topical cream or gel, or antibiotic, but it will depend on the specific cause.
If a sexually transmitted disease is the cause, your doctor will advise you to have your partner treated as well. Both you and your partner must be treated to keep you from passing it back and forth to each other.
Is it normal to have yellow discharge during pregnancy?
Pregnancy often causes an increase in vaginal discharge. However, normal vaginal discharge is typically thin, clear or white. Vaginal discharge that is yellow, green, gray, red or frothy could be a sign of infection and may require medical treatment.
What does normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy look like?
Healthy vaginal discharge is also called leukorrhea and often increases throughout pregnancy, helping to reduce the risk of vaginal and uterine infections. Characteristic features of normal vaginal discharge are as follows:
- Thin, clear or white
- Has a mild odor
- May be heavy and contain pink mucus in the final weeks of pregnancy, appearing sticky and jelly-like in consistency, indicating that the body is preparing for childbirth
What do different vaginal discharge colors mean?
Depending on the color, vaginal discharge may indicate different health issues:
Yellow or green
Yellow or green vaginal discharge indicates an infection, possibly a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia or trichomoniasis. Other symptoms may be present as well, such as vaginal redness or irritation.
Yellow vaginal discharge is often mistaken as leakage of small amounts of urine. However, any yellow discharge should be evaluated by a doctor. Seeking medical attention is important because STIs during pregnancy can cause complications that affect both mother and child. These complications may not show up in the child until years after birth, but they can affect the child’s nervous system and development and cause infertility in the mother.
White and lumpy
Vaginal discharge that is white/off-white and lumpy, resembling cottage cheese, may indicate a yeast infection, which is common during pregnancy. Other symptoms may include pain, burning, itching and painful urination or intercourse.
Gray vaginal discharge may indicate a vaginal infection called bacterial vaginosis (BV). It is also associated with a fishy odor that becomes stronger after intercourse. BV is a result of a bacterial imbalance in the vagina. Risk factors for BV include douching and sex with multiple partners.
Brown vaginal discharge is caused by old blood leaving the body. It may be an early sign of pregnancy. Brown discharge during pregnancy is usually not dangerous. Dark brown discharge during pregnancy, however, requires medical attention.
Pink vaginal discharge during pregnancy is usually normal during the early and final weeks of pregnancy. It can, however, also be a sign of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or vaginal infection. Pink discharge may also appear after sexual intercourse.
Red vaginal discharge during pregnancy can be dangerous and requires immediate attention, especially if there is heavy bleeding, clots, cramping and abdominal pain. Red discharge could be a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Family Physicians: "Vaginal Discharge."
American Pregnancy Association: "Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy."
Associated Women's Health Specialists P.C.: "Vaginitis."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Chlamydia."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Gonorrhea."
Current Dermatology Reports: "Evaluation of Vaginal Complaints During Pregnancy: the Approach to Diagnosis."
Healthdirect: "Vaginal discharge."
Merck Manual: "Vaginal Discharge."
National Health Service: "Vaginal discharge."
South African Medical Journal: "Diagnosis and Treatment of Vaginal Discharge in Pregnancy."
Top Causes of Yellow Discharge and What Does It Mean Related Articles
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Is Vaginal Discharge Normal?Vaginal discharge is a type of fluid that comes out from the vagina. It is normal for most women to have vaginal discharge, although the amount can vary from person to person. It is also normal for the color, amount, and texture of the discharge to change depending on what time it is during the menstrual cycle.
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Vaginitis (Inflammation of the Vagina)Vaginitis refers to inflammation of the vagina. Vaginitis can be caused by infections, menopause, or poor hygiene. Symptoms of vaginitis include vaginal itching, discharge, odor, pain, or discomfort. Treatment for vaginitis depends on the cause. Antibiotics may be necessary for some forms of vaginitis.
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Vaginal Yeast Infection
Vaginal yeast infections in women are caused by an organism called Candida albicans. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include vaginal pain with urination, vaginal discharge, odor, and itching.
Treatment is generally OTC medications. A man can contract a yeast infection from his female sexual partner. Symptoms of a yeast infection in men include penile itching. Treatment is with oral or topical medication.