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Green Vaginal Discharge: Five Typical Causes

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

Physiological vaginal discharge is transparent and has no odor since it consists of exfoliated endothelial cells and bacteria, presenting normal vaginal microflora. In most cases, green vaginal discharge indicates the presence of a certain infectious disease. It can be located in various systems and have diverse etiology.

5 most common causes of purulent discharge:

  1. Vaginitis, particularly trichomoniasis type;
  2. Cervicitis;
  3. Endometritis;
  4. Salpingitis;
  5. Tubo-ovarian abscess.

Severity of the disease and therapeutic methods depend on the incitant agent, which should all be determined by a specialist.

Trichomoniasis as the first factor, causing yellow-green discharge

Trichomonal vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) is provoked by Trichomonas vaginalis. Each year about 3 million of previously unknown cases of trichomoniasis are being discovered in the USA, which puts this disease in the third place among other types of vaginal pathologies (following candidiasis and gardnerellosis). This is a sexually transmitted disease with 75% of contagiousness rate.

Typical symptoms of trichomonal infection of lower sections of the genital tract include profuse liquid foamy discharge, which may be yellow, light green or gray with an unpleasant odor. Among other symptoms are itching, burning, reddening and swelling of external genitals. Normal microflora yields to actively regenerating trichomonads. Therefore, level of pH in the vagina rapidly increases, leading to the creation of the alkaline environment, which is fraught with joining of other infections. It is also important that symptoms of vaginitis become more acute immediately after periods since menstruation assumes a short-term natural increase of the pH level.

When consulting a specialist with the problem of greenish discharge, he/she may prescribe effective antibiotic therapy for the treatment of trichomoniasis.

Cervicitis, as the second factor, causing light green color of cervical mucus.  

Physiological cervical mucus is usually white or almost transparent and has no odor. In the presence of any cervical infections, it acquires greenish coloring and foul odor. Microorganisms, which are most likely to provoke cervicitis, include gonococci (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) and chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis). Only these two bacteria are able to cause mucopurulent cervicitis.

In order to receive adequate treatment, one should not hesitate to consult a specialist, who will be able to tell cervical inflammation from other diseases. This can be done, in the first place, through thorough examination, during which reddening or painful sensations at touching may be revealed. This will also help the specialist to detect the presence of yellow-green purulent discharge from the cervical os. However, affection of higher organs (uterus or adnexa) won’t be detected during the examination.

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Endometritis as the third etiologically of green vaginal discharge

Endometritis is an infectious disease of the uterine mucous membrane. It may be complicated by general inflammation of pelvic organs. Intrauterine instrumental manipulations or uterine rupture, for example, Cesarean operation, curettage of the uterus, abortions, insertion of an intrauterine device, etc. are among the risk factors of endometritis.

Symptoms of acute endometritis include:

  • Past history of disturbed integrity of the uterus;
  • Fever;
  • Bloody discharge with a greenish

Examination may also help the gynecologist to detect sensitivity of the uterus, as well as its soft consistency and increased size. Depending on individual peculiarities of the case, the doctor will be able to prescribe optimal dosage of a certain type of antibiotics, necessary for the recovery.

Acute Salpingitis as the fourth cause of yellow-green discharge

Inflammation of uterine adnexa (tubes and ovaries) appears to be the most common severe complication of sexually transmitted diseases. It can be provoked by gonorrheal infection, tuberculosis, chlamydia, mycoplasma, various viruses and other bacteria. Frequent change of sexual partners, missing regular visits to a gynecologist for preventive examinations, self-treatment in the form of syringing, intrauterine contraception and smoking are also considered to be in the list of risk factors.

Only in the USA 1 million women are diagnosed with Salpingitis each year. Not only the disease itself, but also its possible consequences, present great threat to the health of the patient.

  • Infertility;
  • Disposition of ectopic pregnancy;
  • Tubo-ovarian abscess;
  • Chronic pelvic pain;
  • Painful sexual intercourse;
  • Adhesive processes.

The most distinct symptom of this pathology is pain – dragging, bursting or chronic, depending on the type of inflammation and abdominal (in the projection of adnexa). Pain can be both one- and two-sided. Besides, the patient may observe an increase of vaginal discharge, which additionally acquires a light green cast and foul odor. Anomalous bleeding and disturbed urination are also possible symptoms. Rise of body temperature is a very infrequent symptom. However, all symptoms tend to aggravate after periods, sometimes even being accompanied by sickness and vomiting.

Observing such symptoms, one should immediately consult a gynecologist, who will be able to leave out other diseases with similar symptoms, such as acute appendicitis, inflammation of ureters and intestines, endometriosis, twisting of uterine adnexa, disruption of a cyst, etc. Treatment of acute Salpingitis assumes intensive germicide medication.

Tubo-ovarian abscess as the fifth cause of green vaginal discharge

Acute Salpingitis may transition into tubo-ovarian abscess (TOA), i.e. purulence of the ovary and a part of the tube. Matter is accumulated in the capsule or out of it. The symptom set of TOA is almost identical to that of Salpingitis (pain, fever, purulent greenish discharge, etc.), therefore, these two pathologies can only be distinguished by a specialist, after a number of additional examinations. Ultrasound examination is especially indicial.

The decision about the volume and methods of treatment are also up to the specialist. It may be confined to intravenous injection of antibiotics while other cases may require surgical intervention (if abscess is confined by a un impenetrable capsule or in case there are symptoms of its disruption).

Preventive means against adnexal inflammation include:

  • Annual preventive visits to a gynecologist after initiation of sexual life;
  • Thorough and timely treatment of sexually transmitted infections;
  • Usage of barrier methods of contraception (preservatives) in case of frequent change of sexual partners, as well as intake of hormonal birth control drugs in case of a monogamous relationship.

Thus, prevention of highly unpleasant consequences of pathologies that are expressed in light green coloring of vaginal discharge is only possible thorough timely visits to your attending physician and strict adherence to his/her recommendations.