Discharge is a completely normal and healthy part of owning a vagina. But seeing a color, texture, or smell out of the ordinary can set alarm bells ringing. Discharge can give us signs about what’s happening in the body, so it’s important to know how to read them.
Green vaginal discharge is most likely a sign of infection. Throughout this blog, we’ll explore the reasons for green discharge and ways to treat it.
Vaginal discharge is a healthy way for the body to keep the vagina clean, protecting it from bacteria and infection. Discharge is the name used to describe any non-menstrual fluid that leaves the vagina. This can include:
The words discharge and cervical mucus are sometimes used interchangeably. Although discharge is often made up of mostly cervical mucus, they are not the same.
Cervical mucus is produced by the cervix. This sits at the very top of your vaginal canal at the entrance to your uterus or womb. The cervix produces the most fluid when you are fertile around the time of ovulation and less during other phases of your cycle. This is because of fluctuations in your estrogen levels.
The type and amount of discharge can vary from person to person. But even typical discharge changes in color and texture throughout the menstrual cycle.
This is because hormones play an important role in controlling the glands in the cervix and vagina. Typical discharge can range from:
Now we’ve explored what typical, healthy discharge should look like – it’s time to explore why yours is green.
Vaginal discharge that appears dark yellow, yellow-green, or bright green is most often a sign of infection.
The green color is an inflammatory response to pathogens as your body works to fight the bacteria.
The beginning of an infection may cause a thin, yellow discharge. If left untreated, this often evolves into a thicker, darker yellow or green discharge.
It’s then likely that your discharge will get a more mucus-like texture before turning a brighter shade of green. A thick texture and a strong foul smell are clear signs of infection.
Because green discharge is often a clear sign of infection, the causes can usually be narrowed down to three sexually transmitted infections (STIs):
Trich is one of the most common causes of green vaginal discharge. However, Trich can’t be diagnosed on symptoms alone – you need a lab test from your doctor to confirm the diagnosis.
Both Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are sexually transmitted infections that can cause green discharge.
Similar to Trich, both of these infections can also go unnoticed as people don’t always show symptoms.
For those that do show symptoms, they may include:
Both gonorrhea and chlamydia need to be treated with antibiotics. Again, you need to confirm your diagnosis through a lab test before receiving treatment.
Once you have your test results, your doctor will be able to prescribe the right antibiotics for both, you and your recent partners.
It’s incredibly important to seek treatment if you’re experiencing green vaginal discharge and think you may have a sexually transmitted infection.
If left untreated, STIs can spread throughout your reproductive system and cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is particularly common in people who contract STIs but remain asymptomatic and don’t seek treatment.
Without showing any symptoms, people don’t know to seek treatment. This allows the bacterial infection to spread throughout the reproductive system, causing serious damage.
It’s important to consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Leaving PID untreated can cause chronic pain, damage to the reproductive system, and infertility.
Bacterial Vaginosis, also known as BV, is a gynecological condition caused by an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the vagina.
For example, high levels of bad bacteria, such as ‘Gardnerella Vaginialis’ can cause BV. One of the main symptoms of BV is thicker, smellier, and unusual colored discharge.
Although this discharge is more often gray or yellow, it can appear green in some cases.
BV is not sexually transmitted and is not contagious between partners. However, having BV can increase your risk of contracting STIs. This is because the bacterial imbalance in the vagina makes it more difficult to fight off infection.
If you think you may have BV, speak to your doctor about the treatment and how to protect yourself from STIs.
Ways to avoid contracting BV involve protecting your vaginal balance by:
Keeping good hygiene is super important for avoiding infections down there. This is even more important when managing your period each month.
You should try to remove and replace your period products every 4-8 hours if possible, as suggested by the FDA guidelines.
Although this isn’t always easy to achieve around school, work, and life commitments – it’s a key part of keeping your vagina healthy.
Leaving a product in or around the vagina for too long can prevent the self-cleaning process and allow harmful bacteria to grow. This can again lead to imbalance and increase the risk of infection.
Green discharge during pregnancy is abnormal. It is a sign of infection and should signal that you need to get checked out by your doctor.
Infections during pregnancy present a higher risk to both the mother and baby, so it’s important to get it addressed early on.
For example, if a pregnant person has Trichomoniasis and it’s left untreated – it can trigger preterm birth or cause babies to have lower birth weights.
Because green discharge is a sign of infection, it’s usually treated with a course of antibiotics.
First, you should visit your doctor to diagnose the exact cause of your green discharge.
It’s important to be open and honest about your sexual history, even if you may feel embarrassed. The doctor will need to know the cause of your infection as well as run a lab test to confirm the type of infection.
Once you have your results, you’ll be prescribed the right antibiotics to treat your specific infection.
If taken correctly as a full course, the antibiotics should clear up your infection within a couple of weeks.
If you continue to experience green discharge after finishing your antibiotics, you should return to your doctor.
In the meantime, painkillers and a cold compress can soothe discomfort and reduce any swelling around the vulva.