Vaginal discharge is typically a mix of mucus and secretions that are part of your vagina’s normal process of keeping its tissues healthy and lubricated and protected against irritation and infection.

While normal vaginal discharge tends to range from sticky and milky white to watery and clear, abnormal discharge tends to have an unusual appearance, texture, or odor and is often accompanied by itching or discomfort.


Causes of abnormal vaginal discharge include:

Implantation occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of your uterus, typically 10 days to 2 weeks after sexual intercourse. This might stimulate pink or orange discharge.

See your doctor or gynecologist if you experience orange or pink spotting that does not lead to a period cycle.

As you get close to your period, you will produce more mucus which could result in a yellow discharge. The color may be small amounts of menstrual blood mixing with normal discharge.

If this atypical color discharge also has an unpleasant odor or abnormal texture, discuss it with your doctor.

If your vaginal discharge has a disagreeable odor or an unexpected color, it might be the sign of an infection.

Vaginal yeast infection

Caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida, a vaginal yeast infection commonly has symptoms including:

  • thick, white, discharge often described as resembling cottage cheese
  • discharge typically does not have an unpleasant odor
  • swelling, redness, and a burning sensation or itchiness of the vulva and vagina
  • pain while having sex
  • discomfort during urination

Bacterial vaginosis

A type of vaginal inflammation, bacterial vaginosis is the result of overgrowth of bacteria that is naturally found in the vagina. Symptoms include:


The sexually transmitted infection (STI) trichomoniasis is often recognized by its symptoms including:

  • yellow, green, gray, or white vaginal discharge
  • vaginal discharge with an unpleasant, often fishy, smell
  • itching, redness, or a burning sensation of the vagina and vulva
  • pain during urination
  • pain during intercourse


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1,700,000 cases of chlamydial infections in the United States were reported in 2017.

Caused by a Chlamydia trachomatis infection, chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), often does not have noticeable symptoms. For some people, chlamydia has symptoms, such as:

  • yellow and pus-like vaginal discharge
  • vaginal discharge with a disagreeable smell
  • burning sensation while urinating
  • pain during sexual intercourse


Another STD, gonorrhea, is an infection by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium. Many women with gonorrhea do not have symptoms, and if they do, the symptoms are often mistaken for a vaginal or bladder infection.

Women who may have symptoms might experience:


An inflammation of the cervix, cervicitis can be developed from noninfectious causes, but is usually the result of an STI, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Although it often shows no outward symptoms, cervicitis may include:

  • unusual yellow vaginal discharge, often in large amounts
  • frequent and painful urination
  • bleeding between periods
  • pain during sex

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

PID is a common infection of a woman’s reproductive organs that, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is diagnosed in more than 1 million American women every year. Symptoms may include:

Experiencing an unusual discharge from your vagina can be upsetting. If your discharge has increased in volume, has changed texture or has an unexpected color or odor, it might ease your concern by discussing these symptoms with your doctor.

Set up an appointment with your doctor if changes in your vaginal discharge are accompanied by:

  • foul odor
  • pain
  • itching
  • burning sensation during urination
  • vaginal bleeding unrelated to your period

Vaginal discharge is normal. However, if changes in color, texture, smell, or volume accompany other symptoms such as itching or pain, it could be an indication of an infection, such as:

  • vaginal yeast infection
  • bacterial vaginosis
  • trichomoniasis
  • chlamydia
  • gonorrhea
  • cervicitis
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Don’t self-diagnose. It’s better to see your doctor and get a proper treatment plan to specifically address your situation.