Community Health Systems, Inc.

What’s That Discharge?

Mindful Minute

This blog was written by Laura Anderson, a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at Beloit Area Community Health Center. 

Disclaimer: The material on this website is not to be used by any commercial or personal entity without expressed written consent of the blog author. The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. Always consult your personal physician for specific medical advice.

Laura Anderson, MSN, FNP – BC, APNP
Laura Anderson, MSN, FNP – BC, APNP

What’s that discharge?

Let’s face it, vaginal mucus (discharge) is something that we all have. Sometimes it is thin, sometimes it is thick, sometimes it is white, sometimes it is clear. Sometimes it seems like a lot, sometimes we don’t have any at all. This is one of the many reasons girls and women seek a provider appointment. I want to stress, that most vaginal discharge is NORMAL.

Your vaginal discharge will change throughout the month and it depends a lot on your menstrual cycle. Just after you’ve finished your period, you may have no discharge at all. As you start to progress toward ovulation, your vaginal discharge starts to change from a sticky white texture, to cloudy white, to slippery, stretchy, and clear – like an egg white.  It is usually at that time that you ovulate. Once the egg is free from the ovary, your vaginal discharge will change again to become sticky and thick until your next period.

Vaginal discharge is dependent on hormones. If you are using a progesterone form of birth control — like the mini pill, depo, certain IUDs, or the Nexplanon — you may have discharge that is on the sticky, thick side. That is because in addition to suppressing ovulation, the hormone causes the mucus at the narrow end of the uterus (the cervix) to thicken to make it difficult for sperm to get through.

Discharge typically does not have a strong smell or color. Your vagina is smart and self-cleaning. Things like douches, sex, blood, illness, and strong scented soaps, can throw off the pH or “vaginal environment” and cause an overgrowth of bacteria. When this happens, your discharge may change.  You may develop irritation, itching, or notice a strong smell.  Other things that can cause discharge that is discolored, irritating or smelly are sexually transmitted infections.

When should you worry?

If you notice a strong odor – like fish, your discharge is yellow, green, or thick like cottage cheese, if it burns to pee, or the opening around your vagina is itchy, you should schedule an appointment to have this checked.

If you are under 21, you typically can self-swab and/or pee in a cup. If over 21, you may have a pelvic exam with your swab, and a pap if needed. Here’s great website to look at for more information and pictures.

Speaking of appointments….

 Has it been awhile since I’ve seen you?  Schedule an appointment to come in to talk about your health, your questions, your preventive care.  I look forward to seeing you!