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Std white discharge female: Is Your Discharge a Sign of an STI?

What is it, and does it need treatment?

Producing milky white discharge is the body’s way of cleaning sexual organs, keeping them healthy and functioning well. In some cases, however, discharge from the vagina or penis can be a signal that something else is going on inside the body.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the vagina begins producing discharge at puberty.

Made mostly of water and microorganisms, this discharge helps move dead cells from the vaginal lining. Throughout a female’s menstrual cycle, the amount and consistency of this discharge may change.

For males, discharge typically appears during preejaculation and ejaculation.

However, milky white discharge can indicate that a person needs to see a healthcare professional.

This article will look at some potential causes of milky white discharge by biological sex.

Share on PinterestFemales may experience a milky white discharge if they have a yeast infection.

Milky white discharge is a typical part of the menstrual cycle. According to Planned Parenthood, before ovulation occurs, a female’s discharge can be white and cloudy. At this time, it can also feel sticky or tacky.

However, white discharge may also signal a vaginal infection or pregnancy.

Yeast infection

A yeast infection occurs due to an overgrowth of yeast called Candida albicans in the vagina.

Symptoms of a yeast infection can include:

  • itching in the vaginal area
  • a burning sensation in the vaginal area
  • a whitish coating in the vaginal lining

Learn more about yeast infections here.


Females can take antifungal medications to treat a yeast infection. This medication comes in the form of a suppository, a cream, or a pill.

It is important to note that the oral pill is not suitable for those who are pregnant.

Learn more about how to treat a yeast infection here.


According to the ACOG, changes during pregnancy can increase the amount of vaginal discharge a female experiences. This is due to hormonal changes.

During pregnancy, it is typical to have milky white discharge. This is called leukorrhea.

Females may also experience more vaginal infections during pregnancy.

They should call a doctor if their discharge is strong-smelling or green, brown, or yellow. They should also seek medical advice if their vagina feels itchy or sore, or if they experience pain during urination.

Other than preejaculate and ejaculate, discharge from the penis may signal that a male should see a doctor. It is usually due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI).


Urethritis refers to inflammation of the urethra. This is the tube that transports urine from the bladder to the penis during urination.

Although the exact cause is unknown, urethritis typically occurs due to STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. It can also occur due to irritation.

If the cause is due to a bacterial infection, the discharge may be white and cloudy.

A male may also notice that the end of their penis is painful, itchy, or swollen.

Learn more about urethritis here.


According to American Family Physician, a doctor will typically prescribe antibiotics. They may also recommend that a male undergoes testing for STIs.

During treatment, the male should abstain from sexual intercourse for at least 1 week. The doctor may also encourage them to refrain from:

  • eating spicy foods
  • using scented soaps
  • engaging in vigorous or frequent masturbation


Gonorrhea is a bacterial STI that causes painful urination and pus-filled discharge. The color of the discharge can be white, yellow, or green.

Other symptoms in males include painful urination and painful or swollen testicles.


Gonorrhea is treatable using antibiotics.


Chlamydia is a bacterial STI. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is the most frequently reported bacterial STI in the United States.

Chlamydia causes milky white discharge from the penis, along with painful urination.

Epididymitis, which refers to the painful swelling of the epididymis (the tube at the back of the testicle), can occur in a minority of males with chlamydia.

Testicular pain, tenderness, and swelling also occur in a minority of males with chlamydia.

Learn more about chlamydia in males here.


Similarly to gonorrhea, a person can take antibiotics to treat chlamydia.

People should also abstain from sexual intercourse for 7 days. Sexual partners of those with chlamydia should also receive treatment.

Trichomoniasis can cause white discharge in both males and females.

According to the CDC, trichomoniasis is a very common STI, affecting roughly 3.7 million people in the U.S.

Although 70% of people do not show any symptoms, when the symptoms do appear, they can range from mild irritation to severe inflammation.

Symptoms in females include:

  • itching, burning, and soreness of the genitals
  • painful urination
  • a change in vaginal discharge

Females can also experience an increase in the volume of discharge, and it can be white, clear, yellow, or green. It may also give off a fishy smell.

Symptoms in males include:

  • itching and irritation inside the penis
  • burning after ejaculation or urination
  • discharge from the penis

According to the National Health Service (NHS), the discharge can be thin and white. The head of the penis or foreskin may also be swollen and sore.

Learn more about trichomoniasis here.


A person can take antibiotics such as metronidazole to treat trichomoniasis. The CDC state that this is safe for pregnant women to take.

However, it is possible to contract the infection again. All sex partners should receive treatment at the same time and abstain from sexual intercourse until all symptoms have gone.

People should undergo testing again after 3 months.

Milky white discharge is typical for females from puberty to menopause and for males during preejaculation and ejaculation.

However, if there is any change in the color, consistency, or odor of the discharge, a person may want to schedule a visit to their doctor.

Milky white discharge in females helps clean the sexual organs and keep them healthy. It is also not a cause for concern for males when it appears during preejaculation and ejaculation.

Sometimes, however, discharge from the vagina or penis can be a symptom of an underlying infection.

Although most females experience some vaginal discharge throughout the month due to hormonal changes, it may be an indication of pregnancy or an infection.

If a person notices a change in the amount, type, or smell of their normal discharge, they may want to schedule an appointment with a doctor.

Vaginal Discharge | STD Symptoms in Women

On This Page: Normal Discharge | Causes | Discharge Types | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention

What Is Vaginal Discharge?

Vaginal discharge is a mix of vaginal and cervical mucus and secretions. The flow of this fluid out of the vagina is a normal way for your self-cleaning vagina to keep itself healthy and moist. It’s common for color, texture, and amount of discharge to change during the course of your menstrual cycle and during arousal. However, certain changes can indicate an infection.

All people with vaginas have some discharge, which they may see on toilet paper or on their underwear. Discharge expels dead cells and bacteria, which helps prevent infection along with the vagina’s naturally acidic pH.1

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Normal Discharge

Your discharge changes with hormone levels and the production of cervical fluid. Normal vaginal discharge is usually clear, white, or off-white (even slightly yellowish when dried).

Color, thickness, consistency, and amount vary during the stages of your menstrual cycle. At the beginning of your cycle, it’s usually dry and sticky. Then, during the mid-to-late follicular phase, it becomes creamy and white. Just before and around ovulation, the volume is the highest, and the fluid is stretchy, wet, and clear (like egg-whites). While ovulating, it may be noticeably thick and heavy. Then, discharge decreases until the end of the cycle.2

Your discharge may have no smell, or it may have an odor that is mild but not unpleasant. This smell may mix with urine or period blood. Knowing your usual smell will help you identify changes.

Your vagina also produces clear, stretchy, and slippery discharge when you are aroused, which lubricates the vagina during sex.

What Causes Abnormal Vaginal Discharge?

Abnormal discharge happens when the balance of the vagina’s ecosystem is off, causing changes in color, consistency, amount, or odor.

Conditions that can cause abnormal vaginal discharge include infections like:

  • STDs
  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Yeast infections

Other factors that can cause imbalances and lead to abnormal discharge include:3

  • Douching
  • Antibiotics
  • Steroids
  • Birth control
  • Diabetes
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy

What Does the Color of My Vaginal Discharge Mean?

Wondering if your discharge is abnormal? Look for changes in:

  • Consistency: thinner, thicker, or more textured (sometimes similar to cottage cheese)
  • Color: yellow, gray, green, or brown discharge
  • Amount: Unexpected or exceptional volume
  • Odor: Fishy, metallic, foul, or different from usual

The type and traits of the vaginal discharge you have can help indicate what’s going on.

Clear Discharge

Most vaginal discharge is clear and whitish. Around ovulation, it can be stretchy like egg whites.

You may be more likely to experience clear, stretchy discharge before you ovulate, when you’re turned on, or when you’re pregnant.

White Discharge

Different shades of white vaginal discharge may be normal, especially around ovulation. If there are no other symptoms like itching, burning, or smell, your vagina may be just fine.

Clumpy and White Discharge

If your discharge has the texture of cottage cheese and your vagina is itchy, irritated, or burning, it may be a yeast infection. Yeast is a fungus that is naturally present in the vagina but can overgrow and disrupt the balance.4

Yellow-green Discharge

If the discharge is only slightly yellow and there are no other symptoms, there may be no infection.

However, darker shades of yellow or a frothy, yellow-green color may indicate you have a sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis. 5 You may also experience itching, pain during urination, and an unpleasant odor. If you think you may have an STD, get tested to check your status so you can get the right treatment.

Red Discharge

Red discharge most commonly happens because of bleeding during your period. Most periods happen every 21-35 days and last 3-5 days. If you are experiencing bleeding between periods, it may indicate a serious underlying issue such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or injury, so you should talk to your doctor.6

Pink Discharge

Pink discharge can be light or deeper in color. Usually, it contains a bit of blood.

Pink discharge can occur during spotting before your period. It can also be an early sign of pregnancy due to implantation bleeding (when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall).7 Also, tears and irritation during sex can sometimes cause discharge to be pink.

Grey Discharge

Grey vaginal discharge is not healthy and can be caused by bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV is caused when there is an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in your vagina.

Most people with BV do not experience symptoms. When signs do occur, they include thin, grey discharge with a fishy smell, painful urination, and itching in and around the vagina.8

Brown Discharge

Brown discharge likely contains old, oxidized blood that has taken longer than usual to exit the uterus.  It can occur right after your period or be caused by irregular periods. Brown discharge can also be a symptom of pregnancy or perimenopause (the transition before menopause when periods stop).

More serious possible causes include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a foreign object that has been left in the vagina, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and in rare cases cervical cancer. If brown discharge persists or is accompanied by pain and itching, talk to your healthcare provider.9

Should You Be Concerned?

Vaginal discharge is natural. However, while some changes are normal, changes in the amount, color, consistency, or smell can indicate an infection or another issue. Every vagina is different, so pay attention to your vaginal discharge. This helps you recognize what is normal for you.

There are many reasons for abnormal discharge, including (but not limited to) the ones mentioned.10In addition, symptoms of a certain infection can vary between different people. For example, many people who have an STD don’t notice any changes or symptoms. Getting tested is the best way to know for sure what the problem is.


Abnormal discharge can be diagnosed via various methods. To get to the root of the problem, a doctor may ask you several questions about your symptoms, menstrual cycle, and sexual activity, including:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • What are the color, smell, and consistency of your discharge?
  • Do you have other symptoms like itching, pain, or burning?
  • Do you have multiple sex partners?
  • Do you douche?

They may also order some tests. They may perform a pelvic exam, take a sample of the discharge, or collect cells from your cervix for a Pap test. Alternatively, certain STD tests like our chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis can be performed via a urine sample, so you don’t need to be undressed in front of your physician.

If you believe your abnormal discharge is a sign of a sexually transmitted disease, getting tested helps you know your health and get treatment. Through STDcheck, you can skip the hassle of a doctor’s appointment by ordering STD tests online and visiting a lab near you for a quick sample collection.

Treatment Options for Vaginal Discharge

Treatment depends on what’s causing your abnormal discharge. With any treatment, you should take the full prescribed course, even if symptoms go away. If you are prescribed any creams, you should ask your prescribing physician if it can weaken latex condoms or protective barriers for safe sex.

Yeast Infection Treatments

Yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medication. There are different types, including creams, ointments, and suppositories (medication you can insert into the vagina). A doctor may also prescribe an oral antifungal pill.

Unfortunately, about 5% of women get four or more yeast infections per year (recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, or RVVC). If you experience recurrent infections, you should talk to your doctor to help prescribe an ongoing, effective treatment.11

Bacterial Vaginosis Treatments

Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with prescription antibiotics. This can include an oral pill or a topical gel or cream. Recurrent BV is common, so you should talk to your doctor if symptoms happen again because retreatment may be necessary.12

STD Treatments

Most STDs are easily treatable. For example, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis are curable through prescription antibiotics. If you test positive, our doctors are here to help with consultation and prescription. To avoid further spread of the infection and serious health complications, you and your partner(s) should get tested and treated before you have sex again.


Here are some tips to prevent vaginal infections and irritation, which can cause abnormal discharge:

  • Practice good hygiene with regular showers and mild soap
  • Avoid scented products, douching, and bubble baths, which can cause irritation
  • Wear breathable cotton underwear and avoid tight clothing
  • After going to the bathroom, wipe from front to back to avoid bacteria entering the vagina
  • Always use condoms during sex to prevent STDs


  1. “Keeping Your Vagina Clean and Healthy.” National Health Services. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/keeping-your-vagina-clean-and-healthy/
  2. “Cervical Mucus and Your Fertility.” American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/cervical-mucus/
  3. “Vaginal Discharge.” Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/vaginal-discharge-a-to-z
  4. “Vaginal Candidiasis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/genital/index.html
  5. “Implantation Bleeding.” American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/what-is-implantation-bleeding/
  6. Trichomoniasis. Office on Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/trichomoniasis
  7. “Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding.” Michigan Medicine. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/abvbd
  8. “Bacterial Vaginosis – CDC Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm
  9. “What Brown Discharge Means When You’re Not Pregnant.” What to Expect. https://www.whattoexpect.com/getting-pregnant/brown-discharge-instead-period/
  10. “Diseases Characterized by Vaginal Discharge.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  https://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment-guidelines/vaginal-discharge.htm
  11. “Vaginal Yeast Infections.” Office on Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/vaginal-yeast-infections

Written by


on January 20, 2020

White vaginal discharge in women and girls: causes

White discharge is a variant of the norm, their appearance in girls is associated with the onset of puberty, in the future, the amount and composition of vaginal discharge may vary depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle.


Normal discharge from women can be clear to milky white in color and practically odorless. Their “task” is to ensure the natural process of maintaining the cleanliness and health of the genital organs, cleansing the vaginal mucosa from dead cells, microorganisms, and menstrual blood.

The amount of discharge can vary greatly from woman to woman. Color, texture and quantity vary depending on the stage of the menstrual cycle.

So, on days 1-5 of the discharge cycle, red, bright scarlet, brown or dark brown, they may contain mucus and clots. The color and consistency of the discharge should not change from cycle to cycle, so if you notice any deviations from your individual norm (including itching, bad smell, pain in the pelvic area), consult a doctor. In the days after menstruation (from 6 to 14), the amount of discharge decreases, the egg begins to develop and mature, the color of the discharge changes from transparent to cloudy, white or yellow, the consistency of the discharge is sticky. A few days before ovulation (14-25 days), the discharge becomes transparent, mucous, stretchy, the consistency of egg white. After ovulation, the color of the discharge changes again to cloudy, white or yellow, the consistency is sticky. Before the next menstruation, from 25 to 28 days of the cycle, cervical mucus becomes lighter in color, its amount decreases.


Signs of unusual or abnormal discharge are changes in color, smell, consistency or amount. These changes may be associated with the penetration of infection, inflammation, and the development of a tumor process.

Vaginal infections occur due to an imbalance in the natural balance of lactobacilli present in the vagina. These bacteria produce lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide and bacteriocins – a whole complex of substances that maintain an acidic environment in the vagina and, accordingly, protect against the penetration and growth of pathogenic microorganisms (or the uncontrolled growth of yeast, which may normally be present in the vagina).

The most common vaginal infections are thrush and bacterial vaginosis. Be sure to pay attention to the change in the consistency of secretions, color and smell.

So, with thrush, which is provoked by the active growth of yeast in the vagina, the consistency of the discharge changes to curdled, itching and burning in the vagina and external genitalia disturb. The reasons for the appearance of thrush include the use of lubricants, spermicides, antibiotics, pregnancy. For treatment, antifungal drugs are prescribed, which are very effective in coping with fungal infections. With bacterial vaginosis, the color of the discharge changes to gray or yellowish, an unpleasant “fishy” smell appears, itching and burning in the vagina, vulva, and anus are disturbing. Antibacterial drugs are prescribed to treat bacterial vaginosis.

Yellow, yellow-green discharge with an unpleasant odor, accompanied by pain and itching when urinating, discomfort during intercourse, intermenstrual bleeding may be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (trichomoniasis, gonorrhea). For treatment, antiparasitic drugs (tinidazole, metronidachol, etc.) or antibacterial drugs (azithromycin, cefixime, etc.) are prescribed.

Also, atypical discharge can be caused by douching (with water or special means). This habit can definitely be called harmful, having absolutely no positive effect on maintaining the health of the female reproductive system. On the contrary, douching can upset the balance of bacteria in the vagina and encourage infection or growth of yeast or bacteria. This method is associated not only with infections and sexually transmitted diseases, but also with conception problems.

During pregnancy, the amount of discharge may increase, this is due to changes in the level of hormones – estrogen and progesterone – and is considered normal. However, hormonal changes in the body of a pregnant woman can affect the balance of yeast and bacteria in the vagina, so vaginal infections in this period are quite common. It is necessary to contact a gynecologist if there is a change in the consistency of discharge, color, traces of blood in the discharge, itching and burning during urination.

Why is it necessary to see a doctor?

Your doctor will perform a pelvic exam and tests to determine the cause of your condition. You should not self-medicate, since the effectiveness of therapy depends on the correct determination of the cause, i.e., the type of infection that caused unpleasant symptoms. Such diagnostics, including assessment of the condition of the mucous membranes, sampling of smears from the walls of the vagina and cervix, their subsequent microscopic examination, pH tests, can only be carried out by a qualified specialist.

To prevent vaginal infections and other diseases of the female genital area, practice good personal hygiene (use warm water and soap), avoid douching, do not use scented personal care products, do not wear tight underwear, choose underwear made from natural breathable fabrics, walk regularly gynecological examinations, consult a doctor in time if pronounced symptoms of pathology appear, follow the rules of safe sex.


Amelicheva Alena Alexandrovna
medical editor

Date of publication: 3 February 2022

Date of update: 28 July 2022

Discharge in women: normal or pathological

Every woman who cares about her health thinks about whether vaginal discharge is normal. Many people think that everything should be dry and clean, and the presence of secretions is a problem that needs to be addressed. However, this is normal. The discharge should be to keep the moisture in the vagina. But some changes in their structure can be a signal of gynecological infections and diseases. How to distinguish the norm from the pathology, gynecologists of the Scandinavian Health Center told.

Why do secretions appear?

Discharge is a fluid that appears from the vessels in the vaginal wall, and the result of the work of the glands of the cervical canal and the vestibule of the vagina. One of the reasons for the occurrence of discharge can be called a natural change in the level of estrogen in different parts of the cycle.

It is important to note that discharge in girls before the onset of puberty is a sign of diseases and disorders in the reproductive system. For the first time, they may appear about a year before the onset of menstruation.

Normal discharge

After the first menstruation and the normalization of their regularity, the discharge may change its properties, depending on the stage of the menstrual cycle.

After the end of menstruation, up to 12-13 days of the cycle, the discharge is meager, on average, 1-2 ml per day. They are watery or slimy, of a homogeneous consistency or with impurities of small lumps, colorless, whitish or yellowish. The smell is slightly sour or absent at all.

At ovulation, the amount of discharge reaches about 4 ml per day. They acquire a more slimy, viscous and viscous consistency. Sometimes the color changes to beige.

The end of the cycle is characterized by a creamy or jelly-like discharge. Unlike the period of ovulation, the amount of vaginal secretion secreted is lower, but increases again a couple of days before the onset of menstruation.

Also, the structure of secretions may change with the onset of sexual activity or with a change in sexual partner, with the adoption of hormonal contraceptives, due to intimate hygiene products, with a change in the quality of underwear, as well as during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

All this is the norm, and medical intervention is not required. However, do not forget that once every six months it is necessary to visit a preventive examination by a gynecologist.

Pathological discharge

A change in the consistency, color, smell of secretions may indicate the presence of pathologies, infectious or fungal diseases. If any deviations from the norm are observed, it is necessary to immediately contact a specialist.

If there is a lot of vaginal discharge, it has a yellow, white or green tint, a strong unpleasant odor and associated symptoms (itching, burning, pain when urinating), these signs may indicate trichomoniasis.

Abundant, yellow-colored cottage cheese-like discharge, accompanied by swelling of the labia and severe itching, is a sign of candidiasis (thrush).

A large amount of grayish-white discharge with an unpleasant odor similar to the smell of stale fish, with occasional slight itching of the external genitalia, is a sign of bacterial vaginosis. Symptoms are aggravated during intercourse.

Yellow light discharge, often accompanied by pain in the lower abdomen and painful urination, can be a symptom of chlamydia.

Moderate yellow-white discharge, pain in the lower abdomen, intermenstrual bleeding are signs of gonorrhea.

Liquid, sometimes thick, with an admixture of pus or blood, discharge that has a nasty odor and is accompanied by itching and burning are symptoms of nonspecific vaginitis (colpitis).

Bloody discharge is often associated with ovulation, but it can also be a signal of the presence of infections and diseases, such as polyposis, endometriosis, and others. Bloody discharge during pregnancy is a reason to urgently consult a gynecologist.

Remember that it is impossible to determine the disease by the nature of the discharge alone. It is necessary to visit a doctor and pass the necessary tests for an accurate diagnosis and selection of treatment. Self-medication can be harmful.