Published on June 6, 2023 at 15:27

Being a woman comes with its share of worries. Vaginal discharge can be one of them. This article will tell you what to know about vaginal discharge and when to seek medical attention. 

Normal discharge and cervical mucus

Normal vaginal discharge is also called cervical mucus. It is a substance secreted by the glands in the cervix. Mucus plays a role in fertility. During fertile days, mucus allows the sperm to circulate and ensures a proper pH for their survival. During infertile days, mucus forms a plug to block the cervix.

Discharge based on the menstrual cycle

The appearance and texture of mucus vary according to female hormone levels.  It is normal for vaginal discharge to vary throughout the menstrual cycle.

  • At the beginning of the cycle: there is minimal white and thick discharge
  • Near ovulation: the mucus is more abundant, more fluid and stringy 
  • On the day of ovulation: the mucus looks like egg white. 
  • After ovulation: the mucus becomes less abundant and drier 

What do the colours and textures of vaginal discharge mean?


Normal discharge is often clear to whitish. If the discharge becomes white and very thick, like cottage cheese, it may be a sign of a yeast infection. Antifungal treatment will be necessary; although treatments are available over the counter, a consultation with a healthcare professional is recommended to get the appropriate treatment.


Yellowish discharge can be normal. In fact, normal discharge can turn yellow when exposed to air. A little blood mixed in with the normal discharge can also make the discharge darker. You don’t need to worry about yellow discharge.


If the discharge is greenish, a consultation is necessary. Green discharge, especially when accompanied by a foul odor, can be a sign of a bacterial infection. 

Brown or pink

Around the time of menstruation, it is not uncommon to have a brown or pinkish discharge due to the presence of blood. This is completely normal. However, if brown or pink discharge frequently occurs at other times in the cycle or after menopause, a consultation with a health professional is necessary.

Transparent (clear)

Ovulation is near. This completely normal appearance, which is similar to egg white (before cooking); it serves to prepare the arrival of sperm

Vaginal discharge in pregnant women

Pregnancy brings its share of inconveniences—and increased vaginal discharge is one of them. The discharge is odourless. If there is a foul odour, it is a sign of a bacterial infection, and a consultation is necessary. Antifungal treatment is necessary in case of a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy (heavy, lumpy white discharge). A consultation with a health professional is recommended to choose the appropriate treatment.

Urine loss can also occur, especially after physical exertion, sneezing or laughing. 

However, if the fluid loss is continuous, translucent and odourless, it could be amniotic fluid. This could indicate that the water bag has broken, which can represent a risk for the baby if it is not at term (37 weeks).

Vaginal discharge after menopause

Since menopause is a period of hormonal upheaval, it is not uncommon for women to complain of abnormal vaginal discharge, dryness and discomfort during sexual relations. These discomforts are common and normal, but treatments are available. Don't hesitate to talk about it with your healthcare professional.

After menopause, i.e. one year without menstruation, if bloody discharge occurs, talk to your doctor.

When to consult a healthcare provider?

Here are the situations where a consultation with a health professional is necessary:

  • Sudden and marked change of texture
  • Itchy vulva
  • Green, gray, yellow or brown discharge (outside of menstruation) 
  • Blood loss when not menstruating after menopause 
  • Nauseating odour (like a fish smell) 
  • Pelvic pain with fever 
  • Significant pain during sexual relations 

If you are concerned about vaginal discharge during pregnancy, discussing it during your follow-up exams is important. An untreated infection can have consequences for the fetus.  

What can I do to prevent vaginal infections?

A few things can help prevent vaginal infections: 

  • Avoid douching
  • Ensure proper hygiene of your genitals—and perfumed or irritating products 
  • Wear underwear with natural material that provides ventilation 
  • When using the toilet, wipe from front to back 
  • Use a condom during sex
  • Be sure to change your pads and tampons regularly 
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