White discharge is a white fluid that comes out from the vagina or penis, including during and after sexual activity.
Some types of discharge are meant to help sexual intercourse.
For example, cervical mucus cleans and lubricates the vagina. Penile fluid, which flows through the same tube as urine, neutralizes leftover acidity so sperm can safely pass.
These fluids are normal. They’re usually clear to milky white.
In other cases, white discharge is caused by an infection. Let’s look at the possible reasons for white discharge during or after sexual activity.
Vaginal discharge during penile-vaginal penetration is usually expected.
Sexual excitement is a common cause of white discharge. Normally, vaginal discharge is clear or milky white. This fluid cleans, protects, and lubricates the vagina.
When you’re sexually aroused, the discharge is more noticeable because it thickens and increases. As long as penetration isn’t painful, this type of discharge is typical.
Menstrual cycle changes
It’s normal for your vaginal discharge to change throughout your menstrual cycle.
In the beginning and end of your period, it’s typical to have thick white discharge. During ovulation, vaginal discharge is clear and stretchy, like egg white.
If you have sex during these times, you may notice this type of white discharge. This is expected.
Generally, white vaginal discharge after sexual intercourse indicates an infection.
While BV often affects people who are sexually active, it’s possible to get BV without having sexual activity.
BV discharge may be off-white or gray. Other possible symptoms include:
- fishy odor that gets stronger after intercourse
- more discharge than usual
- burning during urination
Sometimes BV doesn’t cause any symptoms.
BV is treated with antibiotics. It could also go away without treatment, but it’s best to see a doctor if you have it. Untreated BV can increase your risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and complications during pregnancy.
A yeast infection occurs when Candida, a normal vaginal fungus, grows too much. It’s also known as vaginal candidiasis.
Yeast infections can spread through vaginal sex. But like BV, you can develop a yeast infection without having sexual intercourse.
Typically, yeast infection discharge is thick, white, and looks like cottage cheese. It usually doesn’t have a bad odor.
Additional symptoms include:
Treatment includes over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medicine.
Sexually transmitted infection
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) can cause white vaginal discharge after sexual activity. STIs are spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
Possible causes and symptoms include:
- Chlamydia, which may cause yellow-white discharge, vaginal bleeding between periods, and painful urination. Sometimes chlamydia has no symptoms.
- Trichomoniasis, which causes a fishy discharge that may be white, clear, green, or yellow. You might also have itching, redness, burning, and discomfort while urinating.
- Gonorrhea, which can be without symptoms. If you have symptoms, you may have white discharge, more discharge than usual, vaginal bleeding between periods, and painful urination.
These STIs are treated with antibiotics. If you have an STI, your recent sexual partners should be treated too.
The following causes could explain white discharge from your penis.
Sexual arousal can cause clear to milky white penile discharge. This fluid, known as pre-come, is typical.
During ejaculation, the discharge is also white. It’s made of semen and sperm.
White discharge caused by sexual excitement is the only type of penile discharge that’s normal.
Urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can affect different parts of the urinary tract. This includes the penile urethra, which connects the bladder to the penis.
A UTI in the urethra usually happens when bacteria from the anus enters the urethra.
This can lead to urethritis, or inflammation of the urethra. Urethritis symptoms include penile discharge and burning during urination.
Other symptoms of a UTI include:
- frequently passing small amounts of urine
- a constant need to urinate
- cloudy urine
- red or pink (bloody) urine
- strong urine smell
UTIs are treated with prescription antibiotics.
Like vaginal yeast infections, penile yeast infections are due to Candida overgrowth. It often happens after having penile-vaginal intercourse with someone who has a vaginal yeast infection.
In addition to white discharge, penile yeast infections may cause:
You’re more likely to have balanitis if you are uncircumcised or overweight, or have an impaired immune system.
Treatment includes antifungal creams or ointments.
Sexually transmitted infection
An STI can lead to white penile discharge with pain and irritation. STIs are spread through unprotected penile, anal, or oral sex.
The following STIs may cause white discharge:
- Chlamydia. Symptoms of this STI include penile discharge and urethritis.
- Trichomoniasis. In addition to discharge, trichomoniasis may cause itching and irritation. You may feel burning after ejaculating or urinating.
- Gonorrhea. Discharge may be white, green, or yellow. Additional gonorrhea symptoms include foreskin inflammation and painful urination.
Antibiotics are the first line of treatment for STIs.
This chart compares white discharge and accompanying symptoms with their likeliest cause.
|Bacterial vaginosis||Yeast infection||Chlamydia||Trichomoniasis||Gonorrhea||UTI/Urethritis|
|Odor||fishy, especially after sex||none||strong smell possible||fishy (vaginal)||possible||none|
|Bleeding||none||none||vaginal bleeding between periods or after sexual penetration||none||vaginal bleeding between periods||bloody urine|
|Burning||during urination||usual||during urination or sexual penetration||during sexual penetration, urination, or ejaculation||during sexual penetration or urination||during urination|
|Pain||none||during sexual penetration or urination||during sexual penetration; testicular pain or lower abdominal pain||possible||lower back, abdominal (vaginal), or testicular pain||during urination|
Everyone has a different amount of discharge during and after sexual activity.
If you’re not sure what to expect, consider your normal discharge when you don’t have oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
You can expect to have more than this amount during sexual intercourse.
People with a vagina usually have about one teaspoon of clear to milky white discharge every day. On the other hand, people with a penis don’t have discharge unless they’re sexually aroused or ejaculating. A standard ejaculation is about one teaspoon.
Even then, normal discharge during sexual activity depends on several factors, including:
- your menstrual cycle
- sexual arousal
- hormonal changes
- birth control
- your overall health
- vaginal or penile infections
If you have an infection, sexual activity might increase symptoms like discharge and pain. It’s best to get treatment and avoid oral, anal, and vaginal sex until your infection gets better.
Visit a doctor if your discharge looks or smells different than usual.
White discharge with a yellow, green, or gray tinge is a cause for concern.
You should also seek medical help if you have:
Your discharge is probably typical if you don’t have any of these symptoms.
Some white discharge during sexual activities is expected. Typically, it’s brought on by sexual arousal and isn’t accompanied by pain.
New white discharge after sexual intercourse may be a sign of an infection. Common causes include bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and STIs.
It’s a good idea to pay attention to what your discharge normally looks like. If you notice an unusual odor or color, or if you have pain, visit a doctor.