Is it normal to have a yellow vaginal discharge? It does not need to be something wrong all the time because it can also occur virtually without any health problems.
Vaginal discharge is fluid from the vagina of women to keep it moistened and protect it from infections. It does the housekeeping work in the female reproductive system and thus consists of dead cells, fluids, and bacteria. A normal vaginal fluid can be white, clear to sticky, or watery, depending upon the menstrual cycle stages. Still, its smell and color can be altered in conditions like pregnancy, contraception, hormonal imbalances, delivery of a baby, infections, etc. This vaginal discharge will help to protect the female reproductive tract from infection transmitted from the anus or through sexual intercourse.
Vaginal discharge is classified as:
Clear and watery.
Bloody or brown.
Clear and stretchy.
Yellow or green.
Yellow vaginal discharge can be considered normal when the menstrual blood gets mixed with the normal vaginal discharge before or after the period or when the normal vaginal discharge (white or transparent) turns yellow as it gets exposed to air. But it is considered to be abnormal when it is accompanied by a foul smell, itchiness, irritation, pelvic pain, or pain while urinating, which can be a sign of infection or hormonal imbalance.
The possible causes of yellow vaginal discharge are:
Normal cases of vaginal discharge.
Vaginal trichomonas infection.
Pelvic inflammatory disease.
Cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix)
Atrophic vaginitis in postmenopausal women.
You should worry about yellow discharge with no odor when you have:
Severe vaginal pain.
Constant lower abdominal pain.
Occasional greenish discharge.
Lower back pain.
Pain during sexual intercourse.
In women, during pregnancy, there will be an increase in vaginal discharge called leukorrhea due to a rise in estrogen and progesterone levels. It is a slightly yellowish discharge without odor. It can be thin, white, and mild-smelling, which is perfectly normal. But green or yellow discharge with a foul smell may indicate a vaginal infection.
A thick yellowish vaginal discharge may indicate:
The vagina should maintain a proper environment to keep it healthy. Vaginitis can be caused due to:
Bacterial Infection (Bacterial Vaginosis): Bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted disease, but it can usually be seen in females who have intercourse with multiple partners and do not maintain proper hygiene. It can be treated with oral medications, gel, cream, or vaginal suppositories.
Yeast Infection (Fungus Candida Albicans): Yeast infection can be caused by the fungus called Candida albicans due to some alterations in the balance of microorganisms in the female reproductive system.
Trichomoniasis (Parasite Infection): It is a sexually transmitted infection and can cause yellowish vaginal discharge, burning, itching, and vaginal ulcers.
2) Sexually Active Women:
Yellow discharge in sexually active young women is very common. During intercourse, there will be secretion of thick yellow discharge when the muscles of the uterus and vagina get contracted and become engorged with blood. This gives psychological fulfillment during sex in females, and there is no ejaculation in females like males.
3) Pregnant Women:
Yellow discharge in a pregnant woman is quite normal due to the elevation in estrogen levels during this phase. This hormone is responsible for managing and promoting female sexual qualities. The ovaries produce the major part of this hormone, and a small amount is produced by the fat cells and the adrenal glands. During pregnancy, this hormone will increase in its level due to hormonal imbalance. But it should be examined and treated according to its cause when it is accompanied by itching and foul smell.
3) Prepubertal Child:
The normal vaginal discharge will be white, transparent, and watery before the menstruation cycle starts, similar to egg white. But when exposed to air, it can turn yellow. It is a normal process that will disappear when your period starts. Discharge with a foul smell, itchiness, and redness can be a bacterial or a fungal infection that should be diagnosed and treated promptly.
4) Pelvic Inflammatory Disease:
It can occur due to bacterial infection in the female reproductive tract, which can also be a complication of sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhea.
If you have yellow vaginal discharge along with itching, foul odor, irritation, pelvic pain, and pain while urinating, you need to seek a physician's help. The physician will take a sample of the discharge to sort out the underlying cause. Pap tests can also be conducted to exclude cervical cancer. Suppose you are not suffering from any yeast infection or sexually transmitted disease. In that case, the doctor will put you on antibiotics to restore the pH of the normal vaginal flora, fight infection, and get your discharge back to normal.
The physician should first diagnose yellow vaginal discharge to determine its cause. If the yeast infection is the cause, the physician may prescribe you an antifungal cream, tablet, ointment, or suppository. The physician will treat you according to the severity of your symptoms.
It is essential to have proper feminine health to get rid of yellow vaginal discharge.
Taking buttermilk and yogurt in your daily diet will also help fight against yeast infection when it is the reason for vaginal discharge.
Wear loose clothes so that it is not so tight in the crotch area.
Try to wear cotton underwear.
In the absence of pelvic pain, malodor, vaginal itching, and pain during urination, yellow vaginal discharge is considered normal. Pelvic inflammatory disease, vaginal yeast infection, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis are the causes of yellow vaginal discharge.
Yellow vaginal discharge is treated with the help of medications depending on the underlying cause. Antifungals are recommended for yeast infection, and antiparasitic drugs are used in trichomoniasis. In addition to this, maintaining genital hygiene, avoiding douching, wearing cotton underwear, and avoiding tight clothing are necessary to prevent infection.
Gonorrhea, chlamydia, pelvic inflammatory disease, trichomoniasis, and vaginal yeast infection are the infections that produce yellow vaginal discharge.
Discharge with a yellowish tinge occurs before period usually and lasts for up to 14 days, which gradually reduces after ovulation.
Yellow discharge during pregnancy is thick and has a foul smell with itching, or burning sensation, indicating infection such as bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and vaginal yeast infection.
A yellow color vaginal discharge does not indicate misconception; instead, it means infection. During a miscarriage, the vaginal discharge ranges between pink, red, or brown.
Although vaginal discharges are normal throughout a woman's life, vaginal discharges which are yellow with an unpleasant smell and itching may be a sign of infection and should need medical intervention.
Vaginal discharges due to sexually transmitted infections like gonococcal infection are thick and yellowish-green, whereas it is clear and thin if caused by other organisms.
Yellow vaginal discharge without pain during intercourse or urination, itching, burning sensation, and a foul smell is normal and does not signify an infection.
Random yellow vaginal discharge is caused by hormonal imbalance, mixing up of menstrual blood with normal discharge, infections of the urinary tract, or sexually transmitted diseases.
- Maintaining genital hygiene.
- Wearing cotton underwear.
- Avoiding tight clothes.
- Avoiding douching.
- Cleaning the genitals after going to the bathroom.
Yellow vaginal discharge after sex can be a sign of sexually transmitted infections like trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, or bacterial infection.
Normal vaginal discharge mixes up with menstrual blood and results in yellow discharge, which does not require treatment and goes away on its own.
Last reviewed at:
15 Nov 2022 - 4 min read
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