Menopause and discharge: what's normal and what isn’t

Eileen Durward

31 December 2018

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about a little bit of an intimate problem, all about vaginal discharge and what's normal and not normal during the menopause. 

What’s considered “normal” vaginal discharge?

What is a normal discharge during the menopause? It varies a lot between woman to woman, so this is just a rough guide.

Colour-wise, it tends to be transparent, it may be a slightly egg-white colour or just a slight yellowy tinge to it. The consistency, it should be quite runny but not very runny, if you know what I mean, and it should flow quite easily.

The volume of mucus you produce, this is different for every woman. Some women will produce quite a lot. Other women will produce very, very little. It can also depend on what time of the month it is, so especially if you're in the peri-menopause and you're still getting periods of some kind, then depending on where your hormonal balance is, then the amount can be quite different sort of day-to-day and week-to-week.

We talk a lot about smell. Now, a normal smell would be a mild smell, I mean, most of us are used to our own smells anyway, so you wouldn't really notice any difference. But it would not be an unpleasant smell.

What’s considered “unusual or not normal” vaginal discharge?

Now, what is not normal? If we're looking at colour, then we're looking at maybe a mucus that's tinged with green, or grey, or a very yellowy thick colour, or even a browny colour.

The consistency does tend to change, so it would be maybe sort of sticky, it may be very thick. You might find that it sticks to your underwear a lot more than the normal mucus do. Volume-wise, it normally tends to be continuous, so you would end up producing a lot of mucus sort of consistently, rather than being different at different times of the month.

The smell would tend to be very different, too. And I know, you know, women talk about a sort of fishy smell, it could be a metallic smell. It would be a strong smell and probably quite unpleasant even to ourselves.

And another way of telling is sometimes women will say that if something not quite right is going on mucus-wise, that they can smell it themselves even when they've got their clothes on, and that can sometimes be a little bit of a clue that something isn't quite right.

Is it normal for discharge to change during menopause?

Now, mucus changing in the menopause is normal, so you may find things changed compared to what they were whilst you were even in the peri-menopause or the menopause itself. The things that can affect it, first of all, definitely the hormonal changes.

Your oestrogen can trigger the cervix to produce this vaginal mucus. So if your oestrogen starts to fall, then the production of mucus will decrease in the menopause just generally, so you might find that you start to get less and less mucus, and this can then sort of trigger vaginal dryness and other issues associated with falling oestrogen.

Other causes of changes to vaginal discharge

The other thing that can happen here is that the pH or the acidity of the mucus can change and that will affect the friendly bacteria in your vagina. We all know that there are millions of different friendly bacteria in our digestive tract but not all women realise that we have colonies of friendly bacteria in the vagina, too.

And they are very protective. They help to protect us against infections. They help to keep the mucus balanced just right, so if the amount of mucus in the vagina deteriorates or reduces, then that can affect our friendly bacteria and that can result in a change of smell and consistency as well.

Some medications can do it, antibiotics are a really classic example that can change the vagina and, you know, we've all heard stories of women ending up with vaginal thrush because they've had a course of antibiotics as well.

It can be poor hygiene. Unfortunately, that's something that can affect the mucus. It can be man-made materials that we use in our underwear that can affect the flow of air and that in itself can affect the mucus, too. And thongs are particularly bad for this, and I have already posted a blog about the pitfalls of wearing thongs, so if you're interested in that, please do click onto that afterwards.

It can be sexual activity as well, is another thing that can do it and especially in the peri-menopause, if your periods are becoming very irregular, so you're getting bleeding at the wrong time of the month, if you're getting prolonged bleeding, and even if you're spotting in between the periods, so all of these things can change the smell, the colour, and the consistency of our vaginal mucus as we go through the peri-menopause and the menopause.

Is post-menopausal discharge normal?

Are you likely to have problems with vaginal mucus after the menopause? Yes, it can happen. Maybe not so much, our bodies very often have balanced a lot more at that point and a lot of women find that they will have vaginal mucus, but it will be the same all the time and maybe not quite as much as what they were producing before and during the menopause.

When to seek advice from your doctor

What can you do about this? If you are worried at all, if any of the not normal symptoms are appearing and you're not quite sure what to do, especially if they're going on for a long time, especially if they're associated with itching or burning, or inflammation or redness of the whole vagina area, then it's very important to go and see the doctor.

It could be something as simple as thrush, it could be another kind of vaginal infection or irritation that can be easily sorted, so don't suffer with anything like this. Please do get it checked out.

What can help?

A great remedy is a vaginal probiotic. These are very specific, so your normal digestive probiotics are not likely to help in this case. You need one that's tailor-made for the vagina as well.

You could try:

OptiBac Probiotics for Women

Optibac Probiotics for Women contain two highly researched strains of bacteria that have been proven to make it through the gut and to your intimate area alive. Once there, they can help reduce unfriendly bacteria and yeast, creating a happier intimate area, and a happier you!

These vegetable capsules are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. For best results take daily with food, preferably breakfast.

Also look at your underwear. Make sure you're wearing cotton underwear. Make sure you're getting plenty of air around that area. I know this can be a big problem during the winter, especially in the UK, if we've got our pants on, we've got tights on, if we've got jumpers on, then this area ends up being starved of oxygen and that can be a contributory factor as well.

Remember the water because dehydration will affect the production of mucus in the vagina and this is a really important one that tends to get overlooked. And watch what you're using to wash that area. These harsh shower gels and soaps with lots of chemicals in them can be a big problem here.

That area is already going to be a lot more sensitive at this time, so you need to be careful what you use. Go for organic gels, or very, very simple soaps, and please don't use these vaginal deodorants because a lot of them contain lots of chemicals and that can irritate the area further.

If you feel that you need something to apply, if you're going through a little phase where you're getting a bit self-conscious about how you can smell it and worry that other people can smell it as well, we do a super natural crystal deodorant and the plain one, we have been told, is absolutely fine for the vaginal area as well. It's very soothing, it doesn't nip and there's practically very little in it, so it's unlikely to cause any irritation at all.

Eileen’s Top Tip:

Spray twice a day to help stay fresh. The best one to use is the unscented one. The deodorant works by leaving a thin layer of mineral salts on the skin, which are odour inhibiting.

 “This deodorant really works and it has been hard to find one without antiperspirant which is effective. I am very pleased


Read what others are saying about Salt of the Earth natural Deodorant Spray

So I hope you found this interesting. It's one of the ones that tends not to get talked about, but this is something I get asked on a regular basis, and I thought I would just do a blog on this one. I will now look forward to seeing you next week for another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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