What is considered normal vaginal discharge and what do the different colors mean?

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During and after puberty most young women notice a clear or whitish discharge on their underwear.  This discharge can also look yellow when it dries. The discharge is actually a fluid that helps to clean and moisten the vagina as well as maintain the right balance of healthy bacteria. It will typically change color and texture when a woman ovulates, becoming “stringy” or “sticky” and or “stretchy” similar to egg whites. The amount of vaginal discharge can vary but it should not smell bad or be itchy.

Some types of vaginal discharge are linked to yeast infections (which is not considered a sexually transmitted disease). Yeast infections typically cause a thick white cottage cheese-like discharge. If your vaginal discharge is yellow, green, gray or pink, it could be a sign of another type of irritation and/or infection caused by a bacteria or other organism, such as a sexually transmitted disease (if you are sexually active). It’s important to pay attention to your vaginal discharge so you can tell when something isn’t quite right. You should talk to your health care provider if you notice any sudden change in the amount, color, odor of your vaginal discharge, or if you have pain or irritation when voiding (peeing) or with intercourse (if you are sexually active).