There are many tests a woman needs to take regularly to ensure she remains in the pink of health. These include pap smears, mammogram, and a physical exam, to name a few. Vigilant monitoring of the results is crucial in catching the symptoms and treating diseases early. But even when you do not have your routine checkups, your body has a way of telling you if there are health issues you should look into. Your vaginal discharge is one of them.

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It is normal for women of childbearing age to have vaginal discharge. This fluid produced by the glands is the body's way of getting rid of dead cells and bacteria to keep the vagina and cervix clean and free from infections. For this same reason, this fluid is a good indicator of how healthy your reproductive system is. One way this manifests is by the color and odor of your vaginal discharge.

If you're wondering what the color of your discharge means but are too shy to ask your doctor, here is a quick guide:

Clear/white discharge

A white discharge, also known as leukorrhea, usually means everything is okay down there. You would likely notice an increase in the discharge when you're near your ovulation or early on in pregnancy. During sex, the discharge helps lubricate your vagina to lessen pain caused by friction. As long as the white discharge is not accompanied by a foul odor and other symptoms, it should not be a cause for worry. However, if the consistency is clumpy rather than mucus-like, have yourself checked as it could be a sign of a yeast infection.

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Yellow

While it is often considered normal, a yellowish discharge could indicate a few other things: a change in your diet—probably new vitamins you're taking?—or something more alarming, such as a sexually-transmitted infection.

Green

Having a greenish vaginal discharge is not normal, and it could be a sign of a bacterial infection like  Trichomoniasis or Chlamydia, which can usually be treated by antibiotics. These conditions when left unchecke can increase your risks for HPV.

Pink/red

If you're expecting your period, a pinkish discharge could simply indicate the beginning of your menstrual cycle. If you just gave birth, the fluid could be what is referred to as lochia, which comes about four days after childbirth. In other instances, a pinkish discharge could be what is called implantation bleeding, which happens early on in pregnancy when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. 

Brown

You could have a brown discharge towards the final days of your period, or it could also indicate an infection. Others experience it as a result of taking oral contraception pills. 

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How to keep your vagina healthy

  • There is such a thing as too clean when it comes to female genitalia. Your discharge contains protective bacteria that keep your vagina clean and using cleansers, or a douche could actually increase your risks for infections, as these might disrupt the natural environment.
  • Be aware of your body, and monitor changes you deem significant.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • See your ob-gynecologist regularly.

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This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.

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