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7 Vaginal Discharge Colors Explained

Have you ever wondered about the different types of vaginal discharge? From cervical mucus to menstrual blood, there’s plenty going on down there every cycle, and we’re here to help you understand what the color of your discharge may mean with our very own guide to vaginal discharge! Read on to find out more…

What is discharge?

Discharge is a type of fluid or mucus. It has an important role in protecting the vagina and keeping it clean (that’s right the vagina is self-cleaning). There are many types of vaginal discharge and while it’s perfectly normal to experience different discharge at different types of the cycle, it’s important to look out for any changes.

Identifying patterns in our cycles helps us get to know our bodies better, and is a great way to stay on top of our reproductive health. Now.. let’s take a look at some different types of discharge!

1. White or clear discharge

Experiencing white or clear vaginal discharge is very normal. It’s common for us to see cervical mucus in our underwear at various points in the cycle. This mucus is most abundant in the days immediately before ovulation, and it can change color and consistency from creamy to clear. Read our cervical mucus guide to find out more! 

White vaginal discharge can also be a symptom of an infection, particularly when it’s thick and clumpy. This can be a sign of a yeast infection such as candida or thrush. While uncomfortable this is usually easily treated with medication you can get from your doctor, sexual health clinic or pharmacist.

2. Gray vaginal discharge

If your discharge takes on a grayer tinge, it might be a sign something isn’t quite right. Gray discharge is a symptom of bacterial vaginosis. This is a bacterial imbalance that can be treated with a course of antibiotics. Other symptoms include a strong odor (particularly after sex), and a burning sensation when you pee.

If you notice any change in your discharge or experience any other unusual symptoms alongside unexplained discharge, we recommend you talk to a healthcare professional to find out more.

3. Red discharge

Red discharge is most commonly associated with menstruation. Menstrual blood can vary in amount and consistency from person to person with some of us experiencing a light, bright red bleed and some having heavier dark red bleed with period clotting

Besides menstruation, there are a number of other things that can cause red discharge, including withdrawal bleeding (the bleed you get after you stop taking hormonal birth control or are in between pill packets), spotting (bleeding between periods) or it can also be a sign of something more serious such as a cervical infection. 

If you’re pregnant, red discharge can also be a sign of miscarriage. Keep in mind that not all early pregnancy bleeding leads to pregnancy loss, but it’s a good idea to get to know the signs and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or experience any unexplained bleeding.

4. Brown vaginal discharge

As blood gets older it turns from red to brown - this can cause a darker vaginal discharge than the bright red blood we might be used to on our periods. Brown discharge is usually nothing to worry about and may just be due to a late period or spotting caused by hormonal contraceptives.

In late pregnancy, you may experience what’s known as a show or a bloody show. This is a blood-tinged mucus plug that blocks the cervix during pregnancy, it may come out in one go or in several pieces. This brown or pink discharge is a sign your body is getting ready to give birth but it can happen several days before you actually go into labor!

5. Pink vaginal discharge 

While brown discharge signifies the presence of blood that’s a bit older, pink discharge can happen when bleeding is light and fresh, such as at the beginning of your period, or if you experience spotting around ovulation. You may also get pink discharge after sex if there’s irritation to the cervix or the vagina. 

For those planning a pregnancy, it’s worth knowing that implantation bleeding can also appear pinkish in color. This is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, as implantation bleeding usually occurs eight or nine days after ovulation. Implantation bleeding isn’t all that common, but it can explain pink discharge that’s not a period.

6. Green vaginal discharge

Keep an eye out for discharge that’s greenish as this can be a sign of infection. If you notice there’s more discharge than usual, or that it has a different odor, this can also indicate something may not be quite right. 

There are several sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can cause green discharge, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis. This type of discharge can also be a sign of a urinary tract infection. Your doctor will be able to ask questions and do tests that can confirm the cause of green discharge.

7. Yellow  discharge

This type of discharge is often harmless and may just be caused by blood mixing with cervical mucus. You may notice it before your period or if your menstrual cycle is shorter than usual. 

In some cases, yellow discharge can also be a sign of other conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, or can be caused by an allergic reaction. If your yellow discharge has a greenish tint, keep in mind that it may also be caused by an STI or another type of infection.

Why don’t I have discharge anymore?

There are several things that can lead to a lack of discharge. Vaginal dryness can be more common at certain life phases, such as during menopause or if we’re breastfeeding or were recently pregnant. Taking hormonal birth control can also reduce or stop discharge (including menstrual blood), and some other types of medications can do this too.

Vaginal dryness can be uncomfortable and may lead to pain during sex. You might want to try using a water-based lubricant before penetrative intercourse, and avoid using perfumed soaps and washes in or near the vagina.

Get to know your body better

Thanks for reading up on discharge colors. Every body is different, and when it comes to our menstrual cycles we’re also all unique. At Natural Cycles we know that learning about our bodies can be a powerful journey. That’s why our app is designed so you can track and follow changes throughout your cycle - you can even track discharge changes and consistency - so you can learn all about your unique cycle and take control of your fertility

Natural Cycles is more than a tracking app. Did you know that you can also use Natural Cycles as birth control or to plan a pregnancy if you want to start a family? Learn more about the world’s first FDA cleared birth control app today.

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Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

Jack in a suit and tie holding a microphone and giving a presentation.

Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

Dr. Jack Pearson is Natural Cycles’ in-house medical expert. With 10+ years of experience working in the field of fertility, he dedicates the majority of his time to conducting groundbreaking research within the field of women's health.

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