#79 About Vaginal Discharges

Vaginal discharges vary over the course of your menstrual cycle. Leukorrhea is the medical term applied to the discharge which occurs between ovulation and the first day of your period. Progesterone increases during the second half of your menstrual cycle after ovulation. The progesterone changes your vaginal discharge from clear and stretchy to white, thick, and much less stretchy. This discharge after ovulation is caused by the shedding of cells and fluid from your vaginal wall. This discharge should begin in a small way after ovulation and should continue for about 14 days, before you have your period.

Besides the usual cause of healthy leukorrhea, hormone birth control containing estrogen can increase the normal appearing discharge. Increased discharge before your period can also be a sign of pregnancy. In addition, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, ureaplasma, and mycoplasma, can also cause a vaginal discharge. The discharge from these infections may sometimes appear white, but it can also be green, yellow, and have an unpleasant odor. Bacterial vaginosis will also cause a very annoying, thin, malodorous discharge smelling like old fish.

With these vaginal infections, you may also experience pelvic pain, bleeding between your periods, painful sex, and painful urination. Sometimes STIs occur with no symptoms at all. Generally speaking, Group B strep is not considered to be an STI, although I personally think it is. Group B can also cause vulvar irritation as well as the burning upon voiding which is associated with bladder infections.

If you have lower abdominal pain, pain with intercourse, or a fever of over 100 degrees, call your doctor. Check your temperature at 8 PM to find the highest temperature of the day. Also, call your doctor if your discharge is yellow, green, or has an unpleasant odor in any way, or you have burning when you pass your urine.

How much discharge you have will vary from one person to another. Not everybody has the same amount of discharge and of course the amount of discharge depends on being on birth control pills or being pregnant. But if you have more discharge than usual and it’s green, yellow, red, or brown, and has an unpleasant odor, you should call your doctor for an appointment.