Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge is a normal and necessary function in keeping the woman's female reproductive system healthy, but an abnormal discharge can indicate infection. A passageway to the inner reproductive organs, the vagina produces secretions made by glands located in both the cervix and vagina. This fluid of glandular secretions helps cleanse the vagina of dead cells and bacteria, protecting it against infection. A normal vaginal discharge is often clear or milky white. The amount and odor of the discharge will vary based on several factors, including the stage of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, stress, or sexual arousal. Taking antibiotics or birth control pills also may affect the acidity levels in the vagina, which can alter the normal vaginal discharge. Slight changes in the amount or odor during any of these conditions are normal.

If the odor, color, consistency, or amount of the discharge are noticeably different, especially if combined with itching or burning sensations, the abnormal discharge indicate infection. The three most common types of vaginal infections are bacterial vaginosis (caused by bacteria); trichomoniasis (usually spread through sexual contact); and monilia (a yeast-based infection). An abnormal discharge also can reveal more serious conditions, including sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, and in some cases it can be caused by cervical cancer.


UAB Obstetrics and Gynecology offers comprehensive women's health care in a private, personal environment, with physicians and nurses who are dedicated to delivering excellent care. Because our physicians are nationally recognized specialists in their fields, you can rest assured that you are receiving the most advanced care available. UAB Obstetrics and Gynecology is consistently ranked among the best programs of its kind in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

As part of the UAB Division of Women's Reproductive Healthcare, UAB Obstetrics and Gynecology’s services range from complete obstetric care to the medical and surgical treatment of complicated gynecological concerns. We work closely with the UAB Medicine Interventional Radiology team to diagnose and treat your condition, using the latest and most accurate technology and imaging methods, including fluoroscopy, ultrasound, and CT scans. Because UAB Medicine is an academic health center, patients may be offered participation in clinical research trials, which can give you access to new techniques and treatments that are not available elsewhere in the area. Our physicians are here for you at all times, from your first routine gynecological exam, to delivering your baby, to guiding you through menopause. When you establish a relationship with our doctors, you can rely upon that relationship throughout your lifetime.



UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for the diagnosis and treatment of vaginal discharge. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials