What is yellow discharge?
Whether it's bright yellow or yellowish-brown, it can seem odd when your discharge changes colour. But before you start worrying, keep in mind that it's normal for vaginal discharge to change throughout our menstrual cycle – and for many different reasons
Although you might sometimes feel like you're the only one in the world experiencing yellow discharge, rest assured, you are not. Whether you've recently had your first period or are going through menopause , yellowish discharge is more common than you think and happens to most of us.
First of all, it is completely normal for our vaginas to produce discharge . This is simply how they flush out dead cells and protect themselves from harmful bacteria and infections.
In fact, we experience vaginal discharge throughout our menstrual cycle (that's pretty much every day!). But you might have noticed that your usual discharge is white or colourless. So, what happens, and what does it mean if it is a different colour? Let's find out.
What does yellow discharge mean?
Most of the time, yellow discharge is just a natural part of the menstrual cycle. Here are some of the different types of yellow discharge that you might experience:
Pale yellow discharge
Pale yellow discharge is a common type of discharge you might notice before you get your period. It's usually creamy or sticky and a pale, off-white or yellowish tone.
Our cervix (the long, narrow end of the womb that forms a canal and connects to the vagina) produces a bit of mucus every day to help protect our vaginas from harmful bacteria and infection. But before we get our periods, our cervix produces more mucus than usual, which can sometimes mix with early-period blood, creating a yellowish tint. 
If you're not experiencing any symptoms like a strong smell, itching, burning, or feeling any type of discomfort, pale yellow discharge is most likely nothing to worry about.
Yellow watery discharge
The discharge you get before you start your period can also appear yellow and feel slippery or almost watery. Again, this is just a bit of period blood mixing with your regular vaginal discharge and is usually no cause for concern.
You might have noticed yellowish-brown discharge in the first few days after your period. Although this might seem alarming at first, brownish discharge tends to be normal.
The brownish-yellow tint comes from leftover menstrual blood mixing with your regular, daily discharge.
You may also notice brownish-yellow discharge if you're going through menopause. 
This is completely natural and happens due to the hormonal changes your body is experiencing.
In either case, if the feeling of wetness in your underwear makes you uncomfortable, you can try an absorbent daily liner, like Bodyform's Extra Protection Regular Liners , that will absorb any type of discharge your V-Zone might throw at you.
When should I worry about yellow discharge?
Although a bit of yellow discharge is usually nothing to worry about, sometimes, when it is accompanied by uncomfortable symptoms, yellow discharge can be a sign of an infection.
Thick yellow discharge
If you find that the texture of your yellow vaginal discharge has suddenly turned thick, it may be a sign of infection. If it feels clumpy, almost like it's chunky (a bit like cottage cheese) rather than liquid, your body may be trying to fight off a vaginal yeast infection (also called thrush).
We typically get yeast infections when there's a disruption to our natural vaginal flora (the environment inside our vagina), and our vaginas react by producing much more yeast than usual.
If you are experiencing other symptoms like itching, skin irritation, fissure (this can feel like tiny paper cuts around your vulva and inside your vagina), swelling around the vulva, or pain while peeing, 
you might want to reach out to your doctor or healthcare professional.
Rest assured, these types of vaginal infections are common, simple to treat, and quick to go away. Your doctor will be able to help you and your V-Zone (that's everything to do with our vagina, vulva and the V-shaped front of our body that you can see) feel great again!
Greenish-yellow or bright yellow discharge
If your discharge has turned a greenish-yellow or bright yellow colour out of (what seems like) nowhere, you might be experiencing a bacterial or sexually transmitted infection (STI).
If your bright yellow vaginal discharge comes with a strong, unpleasant smell (particularly after having sex), you might be experiencing bacterial vaginosis (BV).  BV is a bacterial infection that can lead to abnormal — sometimes even excessive — discharge that has a fishy smell.
Keep in mind that common BV symptoms are not always obvious, so it's important to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor who will be able to detect if something’s off. And of course, reach out to them if you have any suspicions of bacterial vaginosis — better safe than sorry! On the other hand, STIs like trichomoniasis or chlamydia can have similar symptoms to BV. So how can you know if you have one of them? Your discharge will be a bit different: yellow or green in colour and very thin, almost bubbly (a bit like soap) in texture. It may smell bad too, and come with additional symptoms like itchiness and pain when you pee.
If this happens, it's important to talk to your doctor or sexual health clinic as soon as possible. Although it can be uncomfortable to open up to a stranger about your sex life, remember that STIs are very common and nothing to be ashamed of. More likely than not, your doctor has already seen similar cases before.
Can yellow discharge be a sign of pregnancy?
In short, the answer is yes — yellow discharge can sometimes be a sign of pregnancy, but it's not always the case, so don’t start making plans just yet!
A yellowish tint to your discharge can signal that there is blood in your cervical mucus. And in some cases, it may come from implantation bleeding (this is when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus) during the early stages of pregnancy. 
So, if you've recently had unprotected penetrative sex and notice yellow discharge in your underwear, you might want to consider taking a pregnancy test.
Discover more about how your discharge can change throughout pregnancy by joining our Bodyform community.
Can menopause cause yellow discharge?
Many of us experience changes to our discharge before, during, and after menopause. Some may even experience a condition called desquamative inflammatory vaginitis (DIV), a type of vaginal inflammation that can cause yellowish discharge.
DIV is most common in post-menopausal women+ because it usually happens when our oestrogen levels drop quickly. This causes the vaginal wall to become thinner and dryer (also known as vaginal atrophy), which can lead to inflammation and pain.  You might also notice more vaginal discharge in your underwear along with a bad smell and a greenish-yellow colour. Sometimes DIV also comes with other symptoms like pelvic pain, pain during sex, and itching or burning in your vulva.
Dauting as this condition may sound, try not to worry! DIV symptoms tend to go away in a few days with prescribed antibiotics. So, with a bit of guidance from your doctor, you can go back to a happy V-Zone in almost no time.
The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.