Vaginal discharge: what are vaginal secretions?

Vaginal discharge, or leucorrhoea, is a natural phenomenon throughout the menstrual cycle. It's a natural secretion that maintains the balance of flora in the vagina. However, the appearance of vaginal discharge can vary, so how do we know when our discharge is abnormal, too thick or smelly?

What is vaginal discharge?

Thanks to the hormonal action of estrogen from the first menstrual periods and puberty, women secrete a whitish or transparent cervical mucus. This vaginal discharge flows from the cervix and, thanks to the good bacteria it contains, protects against infection. White discharge ensures a healthy balance of vaginal flora. The appearance of leucorrhoea can vary according to several criteria:

  • The phase of the menstrual cycle
  • Hormonal variations
  • contraceptives, particularly hormonal
  • During pregnancy
  • Infection, fungus or illness

Normally, leucorrhoea has the consistency andappearance ofeggwhite, with no disturbing odour. If more troublesome symptoms appear, don't hesitate to consult your gynecologist or health care professional: abnormal vaginal discharge should raise a red flag.

What are the different types of vaginal discharge?

Vaginal discharge should be clear or whitish and not malodorous. However, they naturally change in consistency according to the variations in the menstrual cycle, and follow the following pattern:

  • Thick, sticky discharge after menstruation
  • More transparent, stringy discharge in the middle of the cycle, at ovulation
  • Whitish discharge at the end of the cycle, just before menstruation

But leucorrhoea can also be abnormal, and discharge can be odorous. Let's take a look at the different aspects it can take on.

White discharge

When vaginal secretions are white, more opaque and thicker, reminiscent of curdled milk or dry yoghurt, this may be a sign of genital candidiasis. Vaginal mycosis may also be accompanied by itching or pain during intercourse (dyspareunia). The fungus that causes it, Candida Albicans, is present in excessive quantities, and the natural vaginal flora is out of balance. There are many possible causes of vaginal mycosis, including pregnancy, antibiotics, sexual intercourse, skin irritation, hormonal changes, diabetes...

Yellow or greenish discharge

Vaginal discharge can sometimes take on a different color. Creamy or yellow discharge may simply indicate oxidation on contact with air. There's usually nothing to worry about if there are no other symptoms.
On the other hand, if your leucorrhoea turns green, this may be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection, such as trichomonas vaginitis. In this case, leucorrhoea is abnormally abundant, greenish in color, frothy and accompanied by an unpleasant odour. The parasite that causes this infection is transmitted after unprotected intercourse and requires treatment with antibiotics.

Brown discharge

Sometimes, after menstruation, a brown vaginal discharge may appear in the bottom of your panties. There's nothing to worry about: it's simply menstrual blood which, throughoxidation, has mixed with your vaginal secretions, making the color darker. On the other hand, if you notice brown discharge outside this period, with bleeding outside your period, this may be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (chlamydia, gonorrhea...) or the development of cervical cancer.

Pink discharge

The pink discharge are common around the time of menstruation, when the first menstrual bleeding mixes with your vaginal secretions. They can also occur if you suffer from non-menstrual bleeding, which can be caused by hormonal contraceptives.
After violent intercourse, you may experience light bleeding due to irritation of the vaginal wall. If irritation bleeding recurs, consult your doctor.

What to do if vaginal discharge is odorous?

Vaginal discharge can often be the source of an odor that can make you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious. It's important to remember that every woman has her own odor, which is normal and natural, but not embarrassing! Our bodies are not sanitized. However, if you notice a variation and thesmell of your discharge becomes too strong or unpleasant, approaching that of fish, you could be suffering from bacterial vaginosis. This very common condition occurs when the vaginal bacterial balance is out of balance and causes abnormally odorous discharge.
To regain a balanced vaginal flora, you canmake changes to the followingaspects:

  • Take care of your vulva and maintain good intimate hygiene, without douching, using mild soaps.
  • Wear cotton underwear, change regularly, and use menstrual pants during your period, rather than irritating disposable pads.
  • Make sure you can tolerate your detergent - it should be as natural as possible for clothes worn close to the body.
  • Eat a balanced diet, without too much sugar and fat.
  • Prefer gentle, irritation-free intercourse
  • Limit the use of lubricants, especially perfumed ones
  • Discuss with your gynecologist the possibility of changing your contraceptive.
  • Check with your healthcare professional that you are not suffering from an STI, and if necessary, treat with antibiotics.

Is vaginal discharge bleeding?

Vaginal discharge is generally understood to mean the cervical mucus secreted and flowing down the vaginal wall. It does not refer to the various types of vaginal bleeding that can occur outside the menstrual cycle.


Spotting, or small "spots" of blood that may dot the bottom of your panties, is very light non-menstrual bleeding. It is generally benign, and can be brown if the blood has oxidized in the vaginal cavity for some time before draining away. The causes of spotting can be as follows:

  • New hormonal contraception, such as a pill
  • A sexually transmitted infection
  • pregnancy
  • Ovulatory bleeding
  • Premenopause
  • Uterine polyps or fibroids
  • Cervical abnormalities


Lochia corresponds to post-delivery bleeding, which occurs before the return of childbirth and menstruation. This vaginal blood loss can last for several weeks after childbirth, while residual tissues and mucous membrane are evacuated. There's no need to worry as long as the volume gradually diminishes.

Vaginal discharge FAQ

What is normal vaginal discharge like?

Normal vaginal discharge is generally the color and consistency of egg white! Leucorrhoea should not have a strong odour or be too thick: any abnormal variations in color, odour or appearance should be reported to your gynaecologist.

Is it normal to have vaginal discharge every day?

White discharge is completely normal throughout the menstrual cycle. This is the cervical mucus that regulates the vaginal flora, whose composition and appearance vary slightly according to your menstrual phase in the cycle.

What are abnormal discharges?

A foul-smelling, thick, opaque, green or brown discharge may be the sign of a sexually transmitted infection or a gynaecological disorder. Do not hesitate to consult your health professional.

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