The presence of vaginal itching, burning, or abnormal discharge could be both painful and concerning. Both could be indications of medical issues, ranging from infections to menopause. An overgrowth of vaginal bacteria can lead to bacterial vaginosis, a common health concern in women between the ages of 15 – 44. Bacterial vaginosis can be a significant cause of itching, burning, and abnormal discharge.

Vaginal discharge in women is a regular occurrence; however, certain discharge types can indicate an infection. Abnormal vaginal discharges are usually foul-smelling, and can have varying consistencies.

Most genital itching and discharge are not a significant concern. However, it can be an indication of other underlying health concerns or infections; it is ideal to consult your health care provider if you have vaginal itching, burning, or discharge.

Possible causes of vaginal itching & discharge

The following factors can cause vaginal discomfort, mainly an itching or burning sensation, along with discharge abnormalities in sensitive areas around the vagina and vulva.

  • Menopause
  • Irritants: foreign irritants including soaps, ointments, and creams
  • Skin diseases
  • Yeast infections
  • Sexually transmitted infections: genital warts, genital herpes, trichomoniasis
  • Vulva cancer
  • Stress

 Among these, stress-driven vaginal concerns are a rarity.

Vaginal discharge types 

Green or yellow discharge. When a foul smell accompanies this discharge, it could indicate the vaginal infection trichomoniasis, which is transmitted via sexual intercourse.

Milky/thick white discharge. This is normal at the beginning and towards the end of the menstrual cycle. However, if the discharge feels thick and is accompanied by itching, it could indicate a yeast infection.

Water discharge. Watery or clear discharge is perfectly normal. This discharge type can be prevalent in individuals involved in rigorous exercise.

Stretchy discharge. A mucous-like discharge which is healthy and a sign that you are ovulating.

When to seek medical help

Seek medical help if the vaginal itching and abnormal discharge persist for more than a week and accompanied by the following health concerns:

  • Ulcers or blisters
  • Inflammations and swelling
  • Increased or burning urination
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Fatigue or sleeplessness
  • Odorous or abnormal discharge

Frequently asked questions about vaginal itching and discharge

Is Bacterial vaginosis a Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Bacterial vaginosis is not considered an STD. However, having multiple male or female partners can make you vulnerable to bacterial vaginosis.

What causes excessive vaginal discharge?

Excessive vaginal discharge can be caused by various reasons, including changes in the menstrual cycle and infection. Consider contacting a health care professional if the concerns persist for more than a week.

How can I stop white discharge?

Clean the vaginal area with a small amount of gentle soap (although no soap is best!) and warm water. Do not use any ointments, scented soaps or sprays unless recommended by your healthcare provider.   

Is it normal to have discharge every day?

While it can be normal to have vaginal discharge every day, it is not common for all women. The frequency and the vaginal discharge type can also change according to the menstrual cycle. If you have any issues or are unsure if your discharge is healthy, we recommend discussing it with your women’s healthcare provider.