Three girls laughing and having fun outdoorsThree girls laughing and having fun outdoors

Vaginal discharge is a normal physiological symptom that occurs in women. It should not cause concern if it is clear, white, odourless or uniform. However, it does happen that it starts to change its smell and colour. If it turns yellow, it may indicate a disease.

Table of content:

What’s considered normal vaginal discharge?

A vaginal discharge with a thin consistency, transparent colour and odourless odour is perfectly natural. It signifies that the menstrual cycle is proceeding in an appropriate manner. Its function is to clean the vagina of dead cells, get rid of harmful bacteria, keep the reproductive organs clean, protect against infection and moisturise during intercourse. Immediately after menstruation, it is practically absent, and before the period it becomes thick and opaque.

What is yellow vaginal discharge?

The most common symptom of intimate problems is a yellow vaginal discharge. It may be accompanied by burning, pain on urination and itching. There are a number of causes of vaginal discharge outlined below.

What are the types of yellow discharge?

The types of yellow discharge vary; to recognise what it may mean, see the list below. Yellow discharge meaning:

  1. Yellow vaginal discharge and infection – infection such as bacterial vaginosis may produce vulvar itching, burning, swelling of the labia and vagina. There may be an unpleasant odour and a profuse yellow vaginal discharge.
  2. Yellow vaginal discharge and erosion - this can be a symptom of erosion which refers to a red appearance to the cervix common on the contraceptive pill. It may also be accompanied by symptoms such as minor spotting between periods.
  3. Yellow vaginal discharge and atrophic vaginitis - this most commonly affects post-menopausal women, but can also occur in young women with disrupted oestrogen levels. The main symptoms of this condition are vaginal dryness, irritation, burning in the intimate area and a watery, yellow vaginal discharge may occur.

Is yellow discharge normal?

What is ‘normal’ when it comes to discharge can vary a lot from woman to woman, and getting to know your body and your ‘normal’ is the best way to spot if anything is wrong. Most of the time your discharge will change a little throughout the month in colour and consistency, and that is completely fine. And what does yellow discharge mean? Some people may naturally have a creamy yellow discharge, for others it may be clear or white, but become more yellowish when exposed to the air. Again, it’s means is yellow discharge normal. Knowing what your discharge looks like in a typical month, is the best way to know if there are any problems, so have a check when you are wiping after going to the toilet. Alternatively wearing Always liners allows you to clearly see the colour of your discharge on a white background. It is also a good way to stop any discharge from leaving any embarrassing or annoying stains.

However, there is one colour of discharge that can be a bit disconcerting, as it can be both normal and abnormal: yellow discharge. Why do we get it, what causes yellow discharge, and is it healthy? Well, depending on the cause, it might be your body’s way of telling you something is up – or it might be perfectly fine.

Find out what brown vaginal discharge is!

Confusing, right? Read on for a few alternative reasons as to why you could be experiencing this.

What causes yellow discharge?

Yellow discharge is categorised as discharge - that is, a change in the physiological vaginal discharge observed during an infection. Only in rare cases is yellow vaginal mucus observed. Usually there is an admixture of a different colour and this is referred to as yellowish vaginal discharge.

Yellow discharge during pregnancy

Yellow discharge in pregnancy, which has a thicker consistency, may also be related to a vaginal fungal infection. You should contact your doctor whenever your discharge is not physiological, i.e. it is not a normal, milky white, clear, non-foul-smelling discharge that does not contain lumps. This may indicate a vaginal infection, which needs to be treated as soon as possible.

When to see a doctor for yellow discharge?

Yellow discharge is more likely to be problem if it is combined with:

  • itching or redness in the area – which can be indicative of diseases such as cervical erosion, cervicitis, atrophic vaginitis,
  • burning intimate areas – indicates an intimate infection,
  • pain in the pelvic area either when going to the toilet or during sexual intercourse – may indicate a vaginal cysticercosis infection,
  • blood – discharge coloured by blood,
  • a strong odour – this indicates a change in the state of the vaginal bacterial flora and indicates a disease, an intimate infection,
  • an almost chunky, gloopy texture

One or more of the above may be a sign of an infection, often one that has been passed on through sexual intercourse. It may also be a sign of a problem if you usually have white or clear discharge, then suddenly find you have bright yellow discharge. As always, it is best to go to your doctor or sexual health clinic to seek advice if you are experiencing any of these and feel at all worried. Trust your instincts when it comes to your own body. Remember, even if you feel embarrassed they will have seen these symptoms a hundred times before, and it is better for you to be safe and healthy.

Find out what bloody vaginal discharge means!

How to prevent yellow discharge?

There are a few steps you can take to help ensure your health down below, and increase the changes that any yellow discharge is nothing to worry about. Also, at this point in your cycle, your discharge may have a yellow or brown tinge to it. This happens if the lining and dead cells haven’t been cleaned out entirely during your period, so your body is a bit late in getting rid of the last bits. So, how to prevent yellow discharge? For example:

  • As well as Always liners, wear cotton underwear, as this allows your vagina to breathe (not literally, obviously!), as air can circulate, and cotton pants can soak up any moisture better than other materials. Wearing airy and not too tight clothing also helps to solve the problem of yellow discharge on pants.
  • Avoid deodorant sprays near your vagina – this can cause irritation and lead to an intimate infection.
  • Do not douche, as this can change the natural PH balance in the area, and potentially push any infections further inside you – it is best to wash twice a day, and if you want to use liquids they must be of the right pH.
  • Instead of intimate hygiene lotions – you can instead wash with a mild or unperfumed soap and water and pat dry
  • Practise safe sex – use condoms. Most importantly though, don’t be afraid to ask anyone for help or advice if you have any concerns. Be kind to yourself!