What Does Green Vaginal Discharge Mean?

Medically Reviewed By Stacy A. Henigsman, DO
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While some vaginal discharge is completely normal, green discharge may be a sign of infection. Any change in color, texture, or odor means you should contact your doctor.

Sex and gender terms

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “female” and “women” when referring to sex assigned at birth to reflect language that appears in source materials.

Every person with a vagina will experience discharge at some point. A certain amount of discharge on a semi-regular basis is typical, especially during and after your menstrual cycle. However, you should be aware of any changes to the discharge, as this could be a sign of infection or something more.

This article will focus on green discharge and what it may mean. It will take a look at sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that are connected to green discharge. It will also briefly discuss other types of discharge and what they may mean.

What is green vaginal discharge?

A certain amount of vaginal discharge is typical and healthy. It is generally clear or whitish with a minimal odor.

If the discharge changes in color, smell, or texture, it is a potential sign of an infection.

Other symptoms may accompany an infection, such as itching, discomfort, and swelling of the affected area.

The most common cause of green vaginal discharge is an STI known as trichomoniasis (trich). The discharge often has an unpleasant odor and is typically more yellow-green than pure green. Intercourse and urination may cause discomfort, and the genital area may be itchy or swollen.

Since conditions that cause green vaginal discharge can transmit to others or result in serious complications, contact your doctor if you experience this type of discharge.

Causes of green vaginal discharge

One common cause of green vaginal discharge is an STI known as trich. This is a common infection that comes from a small parasite.

Green vaginal discharge may signal other types of infections as well. You should contact your doctor at any sign of change in the smell, color, or texture of your vaginal discharge.

The best way to prevent STIs is to practice sex with a condom or other barrier method.

To learn more about contraceptives and other options, visit our birth control hub.

Trichomoniasis

People generally begin to experience symptoms of trich within a month of infection.

Up to one-half of people with trich will experience no symptoms. Even if you do not experience symptoms, you can still transmit trich to others. This is one reason why people who are sexually active with multiple partners should get tested for STIs regularly.

Symptoms of trich include:

  • vaginal discharge which is thick, thin, or frothy, and might have a yellow-green color
  • producing more discharge than usual, possibly accompanied by a fishy odor
  • soreness, swelling, or itching around the vagina
  • discomfort when urinating or having sex

Trich can be treatable with a course of antibiotics.

Complications from trich are rare. However, if you are pregnant when you contract trich, the infection might cause the infant to be born prematurely or have a low birth weight.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is an STI that comes from bacteria. It used to be commonly known as “the clap.”

It is easily transmissible during sex without a condom. Sharing sex toys that are not thoroughly cleaned between uses can also spread gonorrhea.

Symptoms of gonorrhea include:

  • vaginal discharge which is thin or watery, and green or yellow in color
  • discomfort when urinating
  • pain in the lower abdomen
  • bleeding between periods or after sex

Treatment for gonorrhea is usually a course of antibiotics.

Around one-half of all females with gonorrhea will have no symptoms at all. It can still be transmissible to partners, and the longer it goes untreated puts you at greater risk for complications.

Doctors recommend you undergo testing if you have any suspicion you may have an STI.

Complications, while rare, may include:

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common STI that, like others, is transmissible through sex without a condom or other barrier method.

Many people with chlamydia do not have symptoms. However, if left untreated it can lead to complications.

Symptoms of chlamydia include:

  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • pain when urinating
  • pain during sex
  • pain in abdomen or pelvis
  • bleeding after sex
  • bleeding between periods

The most common treatment for chlamydia is a course of antibiotics.

One of the biggest complications of untreated chlamydia is PID.

PID can cause serious issues, such as:

Learn more about common sexually transmitted infections here.

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the result of a change in the balance of the natural bacteria in your vagina.

Many people who have BV do not experience any symptoms at all. The symptoms are sometimes so mild that you do not even notice them.

The main symptom of BV is an increased amount of vaginal discharge that is thin and has a strong fishy odor. It can vary in color but is generally greenish, white, or dull grey. It might also appear foamy. You might notice the smell is stronger after sex.

Doctors typically treat BV with antibiotics, for example, pills that you swallow or a cream to apply to the affected area.

Diagnosing green vaginal discharge

To diagnose the cause of green vaginal discharge, your doctor may ask you several questions relating to your medical history and circumstances.

The topics your doctor may ask about might include:

  • characteristics of the discharge
  • treatments you may have already tried
  • use of products in the area
  • symptoms related to your menstrual cycle
  • medical history
  • drug history, including contraceptives

Based on your answers, your doctor may be able to diagnose the cause. However, they may also choose to complete a physical exam before diagnosing your symptoms.

Other colors of vaginal discharge and what they mean

Graphic with colors of vaginal discharge
Design by Mekhi Baldwin

Vaginal discharge can appear in other colors besides green. Each color is a possible sign of a different issue.

White

If you notice a thick, white discharge without any other symptoms, it is most likely standard vaginal discharge.

If the discharge is thick and white and is accompanied by itching, burning, and irritation, then you may have a yeast infection.

Red

Red discharge is typical during the time of menstruation.

If you notice red discharge or bleeding between your periods and are concerned, contact your doctor.

Yellow

Yellow discharge could be a sign of an underlying condition. Typically, it means you might have a bacterial infection or an STI.

It is not uncommon for yellow discharge to be accompanied by a strong odor.

Brown

Brown discharge may be due to an irregular period cycle.

If you notice a brown discharge regularly, you should contact your doctor to talk about it.

This type of discharge is potentially a sign of cervical or uterine cancer.

Additionally, people with menopause should not show any signs of vaginal bleeding. This can also be a sign of uterine cancer.

For more information on uterine cancer, click here.

Summary

Some vaginal discharge is typical. You should pay attention to the color, texture, and smell of your vaginal discharge.

Changes in vaginal discharge are potential signs of infection and STIs. Green vaginal discharge is most commonly a sign of trich.

If you notice any changes in the appearance of your vaginal discharge, you should contact your doctor.

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Medical Reviewer: Stacy A. Henigsman, DO
Last Review Date: 2022 Mar 10
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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.