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Yellow Vaginal Discharge: Causes and Treatment Options

written by: Valerie Tandoi • edited by: BStone • updated: 3/14/2011

Are you a woman experiencing yellow vaginal discharge? Understand how your body works and when it is time to call the doctor.

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    Causes

    Vaginal discharge in general is a normal part of life for women. It is the color, odor and texture of the discharge that can be a sign of if the discharge is healthy or a cause for concern. Normal vaginal discharge that is simply a part of the menstrual cycle should be white or clear. It should also never have a foul smell or cause itching or pain.Always be aware of what is going on with your body. 

    Yellow discharge on the other hand, especially if it has an odd scent or is causing you vaginal discomfort, can be a sign of a medical issue. One common medical problem that produces yellow vaginal discharge is bacterial vaginosis known as BV for short. BV is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Anyone can get BV, even women who have never had sex or are not currently sexually active. BV occurs when the mix of good and bad bacteria in the vagina becomes unbalanced. This can be caused by douching, foreign bacteria entering the vaginal region during sex, not wiping the vaginal area properly after bathroom use or starting a new antibiotic which can wipe certain bacteria out of the body.

    Vaginal discharge that is yellow in color can also be associated with two of the most common STDs, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Both of these diseases can be spread by having unprotected sex. In addition to yellow discharge, other signs of these STDs can include itching, vaginal redness, pain during sex, pelvic burning and in some cases a fever.

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    Treatment

    It is important to make an appointment to see a gynecologist if you are experiencing yellow vaginal discharge and other abnormal vaginal symptoms. It can be difficult to tell the difference between BV and a STD because they have similar symptoms so it is important for a doctor to run the proper tests. BV, chlamydia and gonorrhea all have cures so there is no reason to suffer in silence when help is available. Leaving these conditions untreated can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and potential infertility issues.

    Treatment for BV is available in the form of a gel medication that you can put directly into your vagina at night. BV can usually be cured in a few days. Antibiotics can be prescribed for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Depending on the exact strains that you have, your doctor may choose to give you oral medication or an injection. It is important to remember that these conditions are very different from a yeast infection and that no over the counter medication will cure any of these three ailments. You must obtain prescription medication to be properly treated.

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    Prevention

    The best way to prevent STDs is to never have unprotected sex and to limit yourself to one partner. Preventing BV on the other hand can be a little more tricky as some women are simply more prone to it than others. Some tips and tricks for preventing BV include not douching, washing your genitals gently with only warm water and scent free soap, not sleeping in any underwear and drying the genitals properly after a shower. If you are getting BV more than once a year, discuss a prevention plan with your gynecologist.

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    Resources

    Women's Health Zone: Understanding Bacterial Vaginosis- http://www.womenhealthzone.com/sexually-transmitted-diseases/understand-the-symptoms-of-bacterial-vaginosis-for-early-diagnosis/

    Chlamydia in Women: Causes and Symptoms- http://www.medicinenet.com/chlamydia_in_women/article.htm

    Image Credit: Free Digital Photos