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Itchy Yellow Discharge: 3 Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases That May Cause It

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

Vaginal discharge is a normal part of vagina’s self-cleaning mechanism, but when it is accompanied by itchiness, unpleasant odor, yellow/greenish color and a thicker consistency, the discharge is no longer normal. Many women mistakenly think of itchy yellow discharge as a symptom of yeast infection (or thrush) or bacterial vaginosis, thinking very little of other potential conditions that might cause it.

Of these, sexually transmitted diseases are the most common, specifically because women are usually most susceptible to catching them during unprotected intercourse.

Keep reading to find out more about the most common causes of vaginal yellow discharge and itching.

What STDs Can Cause Itchy Yellow Discharge?

Before we dig deeper into potential sexually transmitted diseases that can cause this, we must first determine whether the discharge is really yellow. Remember that, when exposed to air, normal discharge turns yellow, causing your underpants to have yellow stains as well – but this does not mean that the discharge itself is yellow. Moreover, the discharge might appear to be yellow if you have not been diligent about your personal hygiene lately.

But is the yellow discharge also accompanied by vaginal itching? Have you noticed its consistency be unusually thick and with odor? Is there any blood? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then a sexually transmitted disease might be the cause.

  1. Gonorrhea

    One of the most common causes of an itchy vagina is gonorrhea, an infectious STD that is caused by the Gonococcus bacterium. Women have a 60-90 percent chance of catching this infection during unprotected intercourse, especially if they have multiple sexual partners. Except for the itchy yellow discharge (which always comes with odor), other symptoms of gonorrhea may include pain on intercourse, a slight increase in discharge, and lower abdominal discomfort. Many times, this STD may pass unnoticed, which can lead to late treatment and potential infertility.

  2. Trichomoniasis

    Trichomoniasis is caused by a protozoan organism called Trichomonas vaginalis, which causes frothy, yellow vaginal discharge that has an unpleasant odor, as well as itchiness and discomfort when passing urine. The discharge usually has a foul, fishy smell, although a number of women may report no odor (especially if they have recently cleaned their intimate parts). The vulva may also be itchy and sore in case of an infection with Trichomonas vaginalis.

  3. Yeast Infection

    Yellow vaginal discharge and itching are the most common symptoms of yeast infection (or thrush), which can also be caught through unprotected intercourse with a partner that is infected. Most women experience a whitish vaginal mucus instead, which has a foul odor and a cheese-like consistency. Oftentimes, yeast infection causes redness, soreness, and itchiness of the vulva, creating a great amount of discomfort.

Consult a Professional in Case of Yellow Discharge and Itching

If you notice vaginal discharge itching and soreness, you should not immediately assume the underlying cause. Instead of purchasing over-the-counter medications, you should consult a professional first, who will perform verifications and take a sample of your vaginal mucus to identify what’s causing it. Both antibiotics and topical ointment/creams may be prescribed for the treatment of abnormal discharge that’s accompanied by itchiness, odor and thickness.