What is yellow discharge?
It is normal for women to have discharge throughout their monthly cycle. However, yellow discharge accompanied by a fishy smell may be a sign of a bacterial or sexually transmitted infection.
Vaginal discharge is normal. It’s the body’s way of cleaning and flushing bacteria out of the vagina. This discharge normally appears milky or clear and doesn’t have a bad smell.
However, vaginal discharge may change color and thickness from time to time. This depends on the time of your menstrual cycle and whether the discharge is a sign of infection.
Discharge is a mixture of mucus and vaginal secretions ejected through the vagina to help keep the vagina clean. It is normal for women to have discharge throughout their monthly cycle. However, some types of discharge are an indication of a health problem.
Yellow discharge accompanied by a fishy smell may be a sign of a bacterial or sexually transmitted infection.
To get rid of yellow vaginal discharge, you need to know its causes or risk factors.
How to identify normal and abnormal discharge
You can tell whether your discharge is normal or abnormal by keeping an eye out for the following:
- An increase in the amount and change in the color, smell, or consistency of the discharge
- Irritation, itchiness, or burning in or around your vagina
The combination of the above can help you tell what may be going on in your body. Even so, do not self-diagnose. See your doctor for a professional checkup.
Causes of yellow vaginal discharge
Yellow discharge can be caused by a number of things. Some causes are common, whereas others can be associated with more serious health problems:
Pre-menstruation. Yellow discharge is common just before your period. At this time, your vagina produces more mucus that is mixed with small amounts of menstrual blood.
Sign of infection. Vaginal discharge is either clear or milky and should be odorless. Yellowish and foul-smelling discharge is potentially a sign of infection.
Menopause. When a woman reaches menopause, the amount of yellow vaginal discharge may increase. This is because the production of mucus is lessened and vaginal walls are thinner. This causes the woman to be more prone to infections resulting in yellow discharge.
Other risk factors of yellowish vaginal discharge
Yellow discharge can also be brought about by:
Common STIs. The most common types of sexually transmitted Infections are gonorrhea and chlamydia. These STIs have few symptoms. Discharge caused by gonorrhea and chlamydia appears yellow and pus-like.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This is an infection caused by untreated gonorrhea or chlamydia. The infection travels from your vagina to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Pelvic inflammatory disease is often accompanied by a yellow discharge with a strong odor. If left untreated, PID can permanently damage your fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries.
Cervicitis. This is an inflammation of the cervix. It may be caused by bacteria overgrowth, STI, or an allergic reaction. Cervicitis can cause huge amounts of yellow pus-like discharge with an unpleasant smell.
Vulvovaginitis. Also known as vaginitis, this condition is another possible cause of the yellow discharge. This is caused by irritation or inflammation in the lining of the vagina. Redness, pain, and odor can signal vaginitis.
Early pregnancy. Early pregnancy may be a cause of yellow discharge. If this discharge is thick and has an odor, it may also be a sign of an infection.
To diagnose the cause of yellow discharge, your doctor might ask you some questions related to the causes of the discharge. These may include:
- When the abnormal discharge started
- The color of the discharge
- Whether the discharge have an odor
- The number of your sexual partners
- If there is any pain or burning sensation in/around your vagina
- How frequently you shower
Your doctor may also take a sample of the discharge or perform a pap test.
How to prevent yellow discharge
A normal vaginal discharge doesn’t need to be prevented, and, due to contact with air, the discharge in your underwear may turn yellow, but that should not be a cause of concern.
Meanwhile, you can prevent abnormal yellow discharge by taking the following precautions:
Avoid douching. Douching can easily destroy good bacteria that prevent vaginal infections.
Avoid scented products. Feminine scented products such as soaps, tampons, pads, or hygiene sprays can easily irritate your vagina and negatively affect healthy bacteria in the vagina.
Keep your vagina clean. Keep your genitals clean and dry all the time. A clean vagina lowers the risks of some infections.
Wear cotton underpants and avoid wearing tight clothes. Cotton underwear and loose clothes help keep your genitals dry and encourage fresh air penetration.
Use protection. Using protection such as condoms during sex protects you from the risk of contracting some STIs and unplanned pregnancy.
Know your partner. Before having sex, ensure that both of you have been tested for STIs.
Avoid hot bathtubs. Bubble baths can increase the chances of getting an infection leading to abnormal discharge.
Treatment of yellow vaginal discharge
Treatment of yellow discharge and recovery may vary depending on the cause and severity of the infection. Each type of infection has its own medication. Your doctor may prescribe cream or antibiotics. Finish the dose as directed by your doctor to completely get rid of and prevent any recurrence of the infection. Maintaining proper hygiene during treatment may also result in a quick recovery from an infection.
Consult your doctor if you have:
Things to avoid during treatment include:
- Sexual intercourse. Avoid sexual intercourse during treatment. Vaginal infections can be spread through sexual intercourse. Let your partner know and get treatment as well if needed.
- Wipe yourself from front to back after using the toilet.
- If your doctor prescribes a cream, avoid using tampons, as they may absorb the cream.
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Yellow discharge can be a result of several factors. Always prioritize your personal health, though, and don’t let a warning sign slide. Improper hygiene encourages the occurrence of some infections that can cause total discomfort. Consult your health provider as soon as you have a yellow discharge that lasts for more than one day or experience itchiness or a burning sensation around your genitals.
Medically Reviewed on 6/3/2022
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