My vaginal discharge is “normal,” but bothers me.
Updated: Feb 28
"Hi! I have a question about vaginal discharge. Almost every day I have discharge that is brownish. I have gotten it checked out in the past and doctors have said it is normal and that I just have more discharge than others. I am wondering if you had any suggestions on how to minimize this from happening if possible? I get uncomfortable about this when entering a sexual situation."
Your question is shared by many others, so please know that discharge can vary in amount and still be normal.
You thought ahead about what I have to say which is a diagnosis of discharge needs to be made by an examining healthcare practitioner because discharge can represent so many different things. If you have not been seen recently, you may want to get another examination. Symptoms of an infection include burning, itching, redness, and pain with sex or urination. Healthcare professionals can look under the microscope for infections like BV, candida, trichomonas, and can administer tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including herpes simplex virus, and, less commonly, group A streptococcus.
Normal discharge is characterized as 1-4ml of fluid in 24 hours, white, yellowish or transparent, thick or thin, and mostly odorless. Diet, sexual activity, medications, and stress may affect the amount.
But let’s assume your discharge is normal and doesn’t represent an infection. One other thing that “brownish” discharge may be is very light spotting caused by a hormonal method of birth control. It may be so light that you don’t realize it’s a small amount of blood that may be normal- but is causing the color. If you’re on a hormonal method, like the pill or the shot (Depo Provera), you could consider trying a different method.
Another thing to think about is whether you’re having discharge as a reaction to your laundry detergent or underwear, a condition called dermatitis. Try the purest detergent and cotton underwear.
It is also common to feel self-conscious in sexual situations, especially if you are not in a relationship with the other person. But try to think about the fact your partner may also be feeling self-conscious and may be thinking about their own body issues and ways they don’t feel like they measure up. If they are having relations with you, chances are they are very excited, and not thinking about your discharge. If a partner makes you feel bad about your discharge or yourself, they may not be the right partner.
If you want to wash before sex because you’ll feel less self-conscious, choose a gentle cleanser such as Cetaphil or Eucerin which both have a pH between 5.3-7.0 (the pH of the vulva), and only use it on the outside. Douching is never recommended because it changes the normal vaginal flora and can increase our risk of irritation and infection.
There is no external product you can use that decreases the amount of discharge.
DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to guide individual therapy. Answers should never substitute for consultation with a healthcare provider or counselor who can make decisions based on an individual’s history, desires, and circumstances. Always seek the advice of a clinician for any questions regarding health, medical condition, birth control method or other family planning or social issues. Under no circumstances should an individual use this information in lieu of, or to override, the judgment of a treating clinician. Dr. Zieman, or SageMed LLC, is not responsible, or liable, for errors, omissions, or any damage or loss incurred as a result of use of any birth control method or use or reliance on any material or information provided through this website.