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As you get older, you may notice a discharge from your vagina between menstrual periods. It is normal to have some vaginal discharge. The amount, color and thickness of this discharge are different for each person.

Normal vaginal discharge:

  • Is thin, clear, white or slightly yellow in color
  • Often increases 2 weeks before menstruation
  • May change or increase with some birth control methods
  • Has no bad odor
  • Does not cause itchiness or irritation

Normal vaginal discharge is made up of a liquid (mucus) and bacteria. The mucus helps to clean the vagina. There is both good and bad bacteria in the mucus. The good bacteria keep everything in balance. Small amounts of yeast may also be present. Bacteria help yeast from growing out of control, too. When one kind of bacteria grows too much, you may have an infection.

After intercourse you may notice a musky odor. If the odor lasts more than a day, it may mean that you have an infection.

Signs of Infection:

A vaginal discharge alone does not mean there is an infection. If you have any of these other signs or you have unprotected sex (sex without a condom), you should see your doctor.

  • Vaginal itching, burning or irritation
  • Thick, white vaginal discharge
  • A change in what the discharge usually looks like
  • Bad odor that lasts more than a day
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • Pain or tenderness in your lower abdomen (tummy)
  • Blisters, bumps or sores in your genital area


Each infection has its own treatment. Most vaginal infections are not serious and can be cured with prescription medicine. If not treated, your symptoms may get worse or put you at risk for future problems.