Green Vaginal Discharge

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What is green vaginal discharge?

Some amount of vaginal discharge is normal among women; it is often clear or whitish with a minimal odor. If the discharge changes in color, odor or texture, it may be a sign of an infection, although some variation throughout the menstrual cycle is common. Infections may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as itching, burning, discomfort or spotting.

The most common cause of green vaginal discharge is a sexually transmitted infection known as trichomoniasis. The discharge often has a foul odor and is typically more yellowish-green than pure green. Intercourse and urination may cause discomfort, and the genital area may be itchy. Pelvic pain may also occur but is not common.

The vaginal discharge that may be associated with gonorrhea or chlamydia is typically more yellow or cloudy. That of bacterial vaginosis is typically white with a foul odor. A foul-smelling, colored discharge can also occur when a foreign body, such as a retained tampon, is in the vagina.

Trichomoniasis can easily be diagnosed by sampling the discharge. Since it is transmitted sexually, tests for other infections, including gonorrhea and bacterial vaginosis, may be performed at the same time. Trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and bacterial vaginosis are curable with appropriate antibiotic therapy. If a foreign body is present, it will need to be removed and antibiotics may be used to treat any potential infection.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if your green vaginal discharge is accompanied by a high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe abdominal or pelvic pain, change in mental status, confusion, severe nausea and vomiting, or a weak pulse.

Since conditions that cause green vaginal discharge are often treatable, and because they may be transmitted to others or result in serious complications, seek prompt medical care if you have such a discharge.

What other symptoms might occur with green vaginal discharge?

Green vaginal discharge may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Conditions that cause green vaginal discharge can cause other genital symptoms and may affect other body systems.

Genital and reproductive tract symptoms that may occur along with green vaginal discharge

Green vaginal discharge may accompany other symptoms affecting the genitals and reproductive tract including:

  • Genital pain or burning
  • Odor
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal itching
  • Vaginal spotting (light bleeding)

Other symptoms that may occur along with green vaginal discharge

Green vaginal discharge may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Pelvic pain
  • Rash

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, green vaginal discharge may be a symptom of a life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations and delusions

  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Severe nausea and vomiting

  • Severe pelvic or abdominal pain

  • Weak pulse

What causes green vaginal discharge?

The most common cause of green vaginal discharge is a sexually transmitted infection known as trichomoniasis. This infection is caused by a parasite known as Trichomonas vaginalis, sometimes referred to as “trich.”

Other sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, can also cause vaginal discharge, but it tends to be more yellow or cloudy in appearance. The discharge due to bacterial vaginosis is more commonly white and tends to have a foul odor. A foul-smelling, colored discharge can also occur when a foreign body, such as a tampon, is in the vagina for an extended period of time.

Common causes of green vaginal discharge

Green vaginal discharge may be caused by conditions including:

  • Bacterial vaginosis (imbalance of bacteria in the vagina, often involving overgrowth of the bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis)

  • Chlamydia (sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis)

  • Foreign body in the vagina

  • Gonorrhea (sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae)

  • Trichomoniasis (sexually transmitted disease caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of green vaginal discharge

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your green vaginal discharge including:

  • When did you first notice the discharge?
  • Can you describe the color and consistency of the discharge?
  • Does it have an odor?
  • Have you had discharge like this before?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • Have you been intimate with anyone who has similar symptoms?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of green vaginal discharge?

Because green vaginal discharge can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Ectopic pregnancy (life-threatening pregnancy growing outside the uterus)

  • Infertility

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID, infection of a woman’s reproductive organs)

  • Spread of disease to close contact or sexual partner

  • Toxic shock syndrome (life-threatening condition involving a rapid progression to shock that results from release of bacterial toxins)

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 2
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/stds/Pages/default.aspx.
  2. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/std/Pages/default.aspx.
  3. Vaginal Discharge. American Academy of Family Physicians. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/vaginal-discharge.html
  4. Vaginal Discharge. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-discharge/basics/causes/sym-20050825
  5. Vaginal Discharge Fact Sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.hhs.gov/opa/reproductive-health/general-reproductive-health/vaginal-discharge/