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Possible Causes of Yellow Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge is a natural and common thing throughout the menstrual cycle. It is usually fluid that contains a mix of cervical mucus and vaginal secretions, released through the vagina. Estrogen levels are the key factor that affects vaginal discharge. Therefore, you can experience different types of discharge throughout your cycle. Besides, the amount of vaginal discharge produced may also vary from woman to woman.

Importance of vaginal discharge

Since vaginal discharge is a natural thing, it plays an important role in naturally cleaning the female reproductive system. Yes, vaginal discharge is the body’s natural way to keep the vagina moist and clean. The fluid or discharge is produced by glands inside the vagina and cervix. It carries away the dead cells and bacteria to keep the vagina clean and free from any infection. Moreover, it maintains the perfect balance between the natural bacteria and yeast that are always present inside the vagina.

Types of vaginal discharge and signs of abnormal discharge

Often, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. However, the amount, odor, and color of your vaginal discharge may vary (ranging from clear to milky-white) depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle you are in.  For instance, you may experience an increase in discharge when you are:

  • Ovulating
  • Breastfeeding
  • Sexually aroused

The smell can also change when you are pregnant or not paying attention to your personal hygiene. The type of discharge you have indicates various important signs related to your health. If there is a change in color or texture, it may be a sign of infection or any other health issue. So, how do identify the difference between healthy and abnormal discharge? Well, a healthy discharge may look like this:

  • Clear
  • Watery
  • White
  • Pale yellow

One important thing to note here is that healthy discharge may vary in color but it usually doesn’t contain any strong odor. If you notice an unusual color, smell, or consistency in your discharge along with vaginal itching or burning, it may be a sign of vaginal infection, STI, or any other health issue.

Yellow discharge: Normal or abnormal?

A change in the vagina’s balance of normal bacteria can affect the color, smell, or texture of vaginal discharge. If you get a vaginal discharge that is pale yellow in color just before your period, it is considered normal. However, yellow discharge may vary from being light yellow to dark yellow-green, which can be a sign of an infection. Being aware of the possible causes of yellow vaginal discharge may help you to detect anything that is not normal, at an early stage itself. If you are able to catch the issue on time, you can prevent any underlying issue from getting worse.

Causes for yellow discharge

A yellow discharge doesn’t always mean something alarming. However, you must keep an eye over the consistency, texture, and smell of your discharge to know whether it’s a normal part of one of the stages of your menstrual cycle or a sign of an infection. Here are some of the key causes of yellow vaginal discharge:

1. Menstrual

Just before you get your periods, you may notice thin, watery, or pale yellow discharge. This type of discharge is most common right before the periods. Watery, yellow discharge is the result of your vagina producing more mucus. It appears yellow as a result of early menstrual blood mixing with regular mucus discharge. Though this type of discharge is common right before the periods, if it is accompanied by a foul smell or an abnormal texture, then it is a cause of concern. Also, if you experience a thick yellow discharge at the end of your period, it is also normal.  A yellowish discharge at the end of the period happens if all the dead cells were not flushed out of your body during your period.

2. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, you may experience various changes in your body due to the increased level of hormones. One of the common changes that you may notice is the increased amount of vaginal discharge. This happens because of high levels of estrogen and progesterone. The discharge during pregnancy is usually thin, mild smelling, and white in color. Slight yellow, odorless discharge is also normal. However, if you notice a green or yellow discharge along with a foul smell, immediately contact your doctor as this could be a sign of an infection.

3. Sign of infection

Usually, vaginal discharge is odorless or may have a very slight odor. If you experience a yellow discharge along with a foul-smelling odor, then it is a sign of infection. The major reasons for getting an infection can be:

  • Poor hygiene
  • STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)

To stay healthy, the vagina must have certain moisture and pH level. It must also have a perfect balance of bacteria that work together to create an ecosystem for a healthy vagina. Any disturbance in these levels can disturb the functioning of the vagina and may lead to an infection like:

  • Vaginal yeast infection: Vaginal yeast infection or candidiasis is a common infection that occurs when the usual yeast level of the vagina increases beyond what is required. In case of yeast infection, vaginal discharge is usually thick, white, and odorless. The symptoms can be itching, vaginal pain, and soreness. You may also experience discomfort during urinating.
  • Bacterial vaginosis: If you experience yellowish-white vaginal discharge along with a foul smell, it is a sign of bacterial vaginosis. It occurs when there is a disruption in the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina. The symptoms can be itchiness, and a burning sensation when urinating.

Other than these common vaginal infections, yellowish discharge can also be a sign of other major vaginal infections like trichomoniasis and gonorrhea/ chlamydia.

Things that can disrupt the delicate ecosystem inside the vagina and lead to an infection include:

  • Douching
  • Taking antibiotics
  • Hormonal imbalance due to poor diet

Therefore, it is advisable to maintain basic vaginal hygiene like cleaning the vagina with water frequently, keeping the area dry, etc. Also, avoid using douches, scented soaps, lotions, and bubble baths.

Wrap Up:

Now it is understood that vaginal discharge is a common thing. Also, yellow discharge is not always a sign of concern. Dealing with such normal vaginal discharge is also easy with the help of the right menstrual hygiene products. Yes, you can keep yourself dry, comfortable, and free from infection by using the best quality ultra-thin sanitary napkins or panty liners during excessive vaginal discharge. However, if you notice yellow discharge with unusual consistency and smell, make sure to consult your doctor immediately. Getting the right treatment on time can help you prevent a major health issue or complications.


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