Causes of excessive vaginal discharge

Excessive vaginal discharge can have a few different causes, so figuring out the texture, consistency, viscosity and odour of your vaginal discharge, and the time of your cycle it appears is, is key to figuring out the cause.

Your vagina normally produces moisture to keep the tissue protected from bacteria, viruses, and fungus, and is ‘self cleaning’ in this way. You will also experience wetness when you are sexually aroused, but this will only exist during sexual arousal, and won’t persist throughout the day.

Normal vaginal discharge

Normal vaginal discharge is discharge that changes with your cycle, but it is never copious, odorous, or strangely coloured. Discharge that seems unusual needs to be checked out.

Ovulation discharge

Ovulation discharge may seem unusual, but it again never smells bad, isn’t strangely coloured, but it might have a thicker, slimier texture. It will appear about halfway between periods.

Pre-period discharge

When your period is coming, the mucous that plugs up your cervix starts to dissolve to allow passage through of your menstrual blood, which means you’ll get some whitey discharge a few days prior to your period.

During your menstrual cycle

During your cycle, you may otherwise not have a lot of discharge happening, especially after your period when hormonally there isn’t a lot going on.

Causes of excessive vaginal discharge

  • Oestrogen excess/dominance and/or low progesterone – can cause more discharge than usual
  • Pregnancy – milky white discharge is common during pregnancy
  • Yeast infection – usually floury, and can get cottage cheese like and chunky, doesn’t smell bad
  • Bacterial vaginosis – creates a thin, grey, watery discharge caused by the enzymes certain bacteria excrete breaking down normal vaginal mucous
  • Trichomoniasis – an STD that can cause smelly vaginal discharge
  • Cytolytic vaginosis – this is an overgrowth of lactobacilli, which typically looks just like a yeast infection, but antifungals do not work, with discharge sometimes yeast-infection-like
  • Cervical cancer – pale, watery, brown or bloody discharge or bleeding, may have an odour
  • Some medications
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Cervical ectropion – a condition whereby the mucous-producing cells of the cervix proliferate, causing excessive discharge

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)