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Light Yellow Vaginal Discharge: When Should You Be Concerned?

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

One of women’s most common gynecological complaints is about vaginal discharge. With dozens of commercials for “feminine hygiene products,” vaginal discharge can make you feel like a social outcast. What you probably don’t know is that most women deal with discharge: during pregnancy, before period, but most notably on a day-to-day basis.

However, most women are too embarrassed to clearly speak to their doctor about discharge, which can often have a host of undesirable results. The amount of discharge usually varies from woman to woman, as do consistency and color. In most cases, vaginal discharge appears a clear or white liquid that has either a thin or thick consistency, depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. But is light yellow discharge normal?

Light Yellow Vaginal Discharge: When Is It Normal?

To cut a long story short, light yellow discharge is normal only as long as there is no odor, itchiness, redness or soreness of the vulva. Many women have light yellow vaginal discharge instead of whitish or clear discharge while some experience it during early pregnancy, or right before their period starts. In the last case (before period), the light yellow discharge no smell may be accompanied by itchiness and soreness of the vulva, which both go away once the period starts.

The consistency of the discharge varies depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. After the period ends, you will notice that the discharge is thick and white. Towards the middle of your menstrual cycle, the vaginal mucus will turn clear and liquid, with a consistency that is very similar to uncooked egg white. As your period approaches, the discharge will become white and thick again, and even slightly yellow.

When Is Light Yellow Discharge a Reason of Concern?

If your vaginal mucus is usually clear or whitish, a change in color may be a reason of concern if accompanied by itchiness, redness, soreness, abdominal pain, and even blood stains. In most cases, light yellow vaginal discharge with odor is a symptom of vaginitis, a term that describes vaginal infections – literally, “vaginitis” means inflammation of the vagina.
The key to vaginitis is the vaginal flora, which consists of microscopic organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, which are beneficial and naturally grow in the vagina. These organisms need a certain level of acidity, moisture and estrogen to function properly, and when this balance is upset, vaginitis may result. Apart from light yellow vaginal discharge, vaginitis might also cause itchiness, soreness, redness, as well as a smelly vagina, which has a foul fishy odor.

So, You Have Vaginitis – Now What?

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above except for the yellow vaginal discharge, you should see a doctor immediately. She will take a sample of the discharge to determine the underlying cause of the vaginitis, and even do a Pap test to exclude cervical cancer. If you aren’t suffering from yeast infection, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to help restore a normal balance of the vaginal flora, fight the bacteria, and get your discharge back to normal.
Keep in mind that light yellow vaginal mucus may also be associated with early pregnancy. If you experience it while pregnant (specifically after the 37th week), then no treatment will be required.