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Quick Guide to Light Green Discharge: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

Vaginal infection, or vaginitis, is the most common cause of light green discharge. While yeast infection is the most common type of vaginal infection, affecting as much as 75% of women, there are other forms of vaginitis that can trigger abnormal discharge with odor. Most of the time, the infections are not life-threatening, but they should be addressed immediately to prevent complications.

What are the most common causes of green discharge, and what can you do to avoid them in the future?

1. Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in women, and it’s usually caused by an infection with Trichomonas vaginalis. Estimations show that as much as 7.4 million new cases occur each year in both women and men. Typical symptoms of trichomoniasis include light green vaginal discharge, strong, unpleasant odor, vaginal itching and irritation, painful urination, discomfort during intercourse, and lower abdominal (pelvic) pain.

Women can usually contract trichomoniasis by engaging in unprotected sex with multiple partners, or with a new partner. You should seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the symptoms described above. Your doctor will consult you, take a few samples of the discharge and have them tested in a specialized laboratory to see whether you have trichomoniasis or not. Treatment usually consists of an oral antibiotic called metronidazole (Flagyl), which is also the only safe medication during pregnancy.
If left untreated, trichomoniasis may cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility or ectopic pregnancy in case of pregnant women.

2. Chlamydia

Also an STD, Chlamydia affects about 1 million Americans every year. Chlamydia is triggered by an infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, a type of bacteria that can be contracted during unprotected sex. Women with Chlamydia experience abnormal, yellow-green vaginal discharge with bad odor, abdominal pain, painful periods, itching or burning of the vagina, painful urination, bleeding between periods, pain during sex. However, as much as 75% percent of women suffering from Chlamydia report no symptoms, meaning you may still have the infection even if it’s asymptomatic.

Chlamydia is generally easy to treat and requires an average of two weeks of medications. Your doctor will prescribe you either azithromycin or doxycycline, which are both potent oral antibiotics, along with a probiotic supplement to prevent yeast infection. In case of severe infections, hospitalization may be required, along with intravenous medication and pain medication. If you exhibit Chlamydia symptoms while pregnant, make sure to tell your doctor about them and have yourself checked to prevent pregnancy complications.

3. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is an infectious disease that’s usually transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person. Caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, gonorrhea is common among sexually active women and even teenage girls. There are as many as 700,000 new cases of gonorrhea in the United States. Each year, with less than half of them, reported. Women with gonorrhea experience symptoms that are similar to Chlamydia to some degree, including greenish yellow discharge, lower abdominal or pelvic pain, conjunctivitis, spotting after intercourse, bleeding between periods, burning when urinating and swelling of the vulva.

Most of the time, gonorrhea symptoms are very mild and may sometimes go unnoticed. Because gonorrhea vaginal discharge is quite similar to yeast infection discharge, many women self-treat with over-the-counter medications. You should see your doctor as soon as you experience the symptoms to diagnose correctly the underlying cause of the discharge and receive appropriate treatment.

How to Prevent Light Green Discharge?

Since light green vaginal discharge is caused specifically by STDs and rarely by other conditions, women should avoid unprotected sex with multiple partners. Proper protection should be used to prevent the spread of the infection, especially if pregnant.

Sometimes, yellowish green discharge may be triggered by feminine hygiene products, which alter your vagina’s pH and create a breeding ground for bacteria to fester. This results in abnormal mucus with bad odor, itching, swelling, redness and sometimes pelvic pain. It’s better to clean down below using just plain tap water, and occasionally mild, unscented soap. Avoid using any deodorants, bubble bath or other such hygiene products, and wear cotton underpants only. Also, make sure to wipe correctly, from front to back, and use only sanitary pads if there is a lot of normal discharge (common mostly during the middle of your menstrual cycle).

If taking antibiotics, have a probiotic supplement handy to prevent the growth of Candida bodies (and its associated symptoms). Most importantly, see your gyn frequently to ensure that you are perfectly healthy, and identify infections so you can treat them.

Read also:

What’s Causing Green Vaginal Discharge & How Can You Address It?

8 Frequently Asked Questions About Green Mucus Vaginal Discharge

Green Discharge – Questions and Answers