Abnormal Discharge 265
It is normal to have a small amount of discharge or wetness that
comes from the vagina. This is the way the vagina cleans itself.
The amount of discharge changes during the days of your monthly
cycle. During your fertile time, your discharge is more wet and
slippery, and clear in color. If you are pregnant, you may have more
A change in the amount, color, or smell of the discharge from
your vagina sometimes means you have an infection, but it can be
difficult to tell from your discharge what kind of infection you have.
Common Causes of Abnormal Discharge
Abnormal discharge can be a sign of a yeast infection or
bacterial vaginosis, which are not sexually transmitted, or a sign of
trichomonas, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, all of which are sexually
transmitted. For other signs of these infections and how to treat
them, see pages 266 to 268.
Important If you have discharge from the vagina with pain
in the lower abdomen, you could have a serious pelvic infection.
Get treatment immediately! See page 274.
Yeast (candida, white discharge, thrush)
Yeast is not sexually transmitted. It does not cause complications,
but it can be very uncomfortable. You are most likely to have a
yeast infection when you are pregnant, taking antibiotics, or have
some other illness like diabetes or HIV infection.
• white, lumpy discharge, like milk curd or yogurt
• bright red skin outside and inside your vagina that may bleed
• you feel very itchy inside or outside your vagina
• a burning feeling when you pass urine
• a smell like mold or baking bread
A change in the
smell or color of your
discharge can mean
you have an infection.
Itching of the genitals
Itching of the genitals can have many causes. Itching around the opening
of the vagina could be yeast or trichomonas. Itching in the hair of the
genitals or close to the genitals could be caused by scabies or lice. Scabies
or lice can be treated with local remedies, or with medicines found in most
pharmacies. For more information, see Where There Is No Doctor, or
another general medical book.
Some itching is caused by soaps or deodorants that have perfume in
them. It can also be caused by plants and herbs that are used for douching
or washing out the vagina. Wash with plain water to see if the itching goes away.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012