Green vaginal discharge may be a sign of an infectious disease. Learning how to recognise abnormal symptoms can help you take better care of your sexual and reproductive health.
Having some vaginal discharge is a common occurrence for most women. Typically, normal vaginal discharge is clear or white, odourless, and not accompanied by other symptoms. Normal vaginal discharge can be a sign of ovulation, natural lubrication, or simply your vagina keeping itself clean.
Read on to discover more about green vaginal discharge, its causes, and how it can be prevented and treated.
What are the causes of green vaginal discharge?
Green vaginal discharge is most often caused by a disease called trichomoniasis, which is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is most commonly spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. However, it can also be spread through genital contact.
The discharge caused by trichomoniasis is typically yellowish-green with a strong, foul odour. Other symptoms of trichomoniasis include:
- Genital itching
- Painful urination
- Painful intercourse
- Pelvic pain
Symptoms of trichomoniasis can start anywhere between 5 to 28 days after being exposed to the causing parasite. However, up to 70 percent of all people affected by Trichomonas remain asymptomatic. Having trichomoniasis can increase your risk of becoming infected with HIV, and it can also lead to complications during pregnancy.
Other sexually transmitted infections
Other STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can also cause green vaginal discharge. Similarly to trichomoniasis, these STIs can remain asymptomatic in a large percentage of patients. But if left untreated, infections of the reproductive tract can spread and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a serious condition that can lead to sepsis and fertility problems.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a condition caused by an imbalance of the bacteria that live in your vagina, and it can occasionally cause greenish vaginal discharge. However, discharge caused by BV is more often white or grayish, with a “fishy” smell. Unlike trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, BV isn’t an STI. Factors that can increase your risk of developing BV, according to the CDC include:
- Vaginal douching
- A recent course of antibiotics
- Diabetes or high blood sugar
- Multiple sexual partners
- Frequent use of scented sanitary products
Concerned that you may have an STI, read: Home STD Testing: 6 Best At-Home STD Test Kits in 2021
When to see a doctor about green discharge
Green discharge isn’t a normal finding, so it’s important to seek medical attention if you do experience it. In most cases, your healthcare provider will perform a physical examination and take your history. They could also take a sample of the discharge for analysis to determine exactly what is causing the discharge and any other symptoms you may be experiencing.
Since trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection, it’s necessary to rule out other possible STIs, such as chlamydia or human papillomavirus (HPV).
As we mentioned above, the infections that cause green vaginal discharge can also remain asymptomatic and cause health complications later on. For that reason, it’s very important to attend regular check-ups with your OB-GYN specialist or primary care doctor. Scheduling check-ups can help rule out any asymptomatic diseases that may be affecting you.
Treatment for green vaginal discharge
The good news is that trichomoniasis and other STIs that cause green vaginal discharge are highly treatable. Trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics, such as metronidazole and tinidazole.
Fortunately, 95 to 97 percentof all cases of trichomoniasis resolve after a single dose of metronidazole. It’s also important for your sexual partner(s) to be treated, since they can pass the infection on to new partners, or even reinfect you in the future.
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and bacterial vaginosis, on the other hand, are treated with medications such as azithromycin, ceftriaxone, doxycycline, and metronidazole. In the case of BV, your doctor could also prescribe a probiotic to help restore your vaginal flora back to normal.
Green vaginal discharge prevention
Since green vaginal discharge is typically caused by an STI, the best way to prevent this occurence is by practising safe sex. And of course, safe sex can also prevent other sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. Some of the measures that you should keep in mind for safe sex include:
- Wearing a male or female condom during intercourse
- Getting tested for STIs before having sex with a new partner
- Use lubricant to prevent genital micro-tears that increase the risk of STIs
- Limiting your number of sexual partners
- Discuss your reproductive health and boundaries before having sex with a new partner
You should also avoid vaginal douching to prevent trichomoniasis and other genital infections, since douching can alter the natural pH and microbiota that helps keep your reproductive system healthy. Additionally, scented sanitary products can irritate your genitals, increasing your risk of contracting an STI if exposed.
Learn more about STI testing and how you can get tested for sexually transmitted infections at STDwatch.com.
Written by Andrea Pinto on June 14, 2021
- STD Facts - Trichomonas - CDC.gov
- STD Facts - Bacterial Vaginosis - CDC.gov
- Bacterial vaginosis. Epidemiology and risk - pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Epidemiology and Treatment of Trichomoniasis - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Home STD Testing: 6 Best At-Home STD Test Kits in 2021- stdwatch.com