Women normally have some vaginal discharge that is usually whitish or clear with minimal odor. It is common to have normal variations during the menstrual cycle, but a green vaginal discharge that is foul smelling is usually a sign of infection. It often comes with other symptoms such as pain, itchiness or even fever. Depending on the severity and type of infection, your discharge may be frothy initially and then yellowish, before turning yellow-green, and later greenish discharge. It is also possible to have green vaginal discharge without odor.
Here are some of the possible causes and corresponding treatments for green vaginal discharge. If you have these symptoms and you suspect an infection, consult your doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.
What Causes Green Vaginal Discharge?
This sexually transmitted disease (STD) is caused by microorganisms called Trichomonas vaginalis. Infected men and women pass the parasite to their sexual partners, but women are more likely to be affected by the disease, specially young women.
Common symptoms of trichomoniasis include: green vaginal discharge with a strong odor, vaginal itching and irritation, painful urination, discomfort during intercourse. Lower abdominal pain is rare. Symptoms usually appear within 5-28 days of exposure. But even without symptoms, infected individuals can pass the disease to others. More than 7 million individuals are infected each year, but fortunately, it is curable.
Gonorrhea is a common STD caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. This disease is very common, especially among men and women between 15 to 24 years old. The disease can be transmitted by engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal sex with a partner who has the infection. Pregnant women who have gonorrhea can pass the infection to their babies during childbirth.
Common symptoms of gonorrhea include: greenish yellow or green vaginal discharge, lower abdominal or pelvic pain, painful urination, bleeding between periods, discomfort during intercourse and spotting after intercourse. Some may also experience red, itchy eyes (conjunctivitis), vulvitis, burning in the throat and swollen glands (due to oral sex).
The symptoms often appear within 2-10 days after exposure, but they can also take up to 30 days to develop. However, not all people who get gonorrhea have symptoms or the symptoms are too mild to get noticed. But if left untreated, gonorrhea can cause some serious diseases, such as pelvic inflammatory disease which may lead to infertility.
Chlamydia is another STD caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. People can get the infection by engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal sex with a partner who has chlamydia. The infection can also be passed to a baby during birth.
Common symptoms: This STD is more commonly associated with a yellowish or green vaginal discharge that may have an odor. Other symptoms may include abdominal pain with fever, pain during intercourse, painful urination, itching or burning sensation in or around the vagina and bleeding between periods.
In fact, 75% of the women infected with Chlamydia may not show any symptoms. But they can still spread the infection to other sexual partners. Fortunately, chlamydia is an infection that is easily cured. However, if left untreated, this common STD can cause serious and permanent damage to the reproductive system. It can later cause difficulties in conception or infertility. Chlamydia is also associated with a life-threatening condition called ectopic pregnancy, wherein pregnancy occurs outside the uterus.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
PID or pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection that involves the reproductive organs of women. It is one of the serious complications of STDs, particularly Chlamydia or gonorrhea. PID can cause irreversible damage to the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other parts of the reproductive system.
PID is the most important cause of female infertility. More than one million women in the U.S. have an episode of PID each year. One in 8 women who has had a history of the disease may experience difficulties in conceiving a baby. In addition, a significant number of ectopic pregnancies that occur annually are linked to PID. Green vaginal discharge due to PID may also be caused by other factors, such as using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control.
Foreign Body in the Vagina
Any foreign body, such as a tampon that is left in the vagina for an extended period, may cause a foul smelling green vaginal discharge. Its presence in the vagina may cause a change in the normal bacteria in the vagina, resulting in yellow, brown or green vaginal discharge. Accompanying symptoms include bleeding, vaginal itching, rash, inflammation, and pain during sex or urination. These symptoms may be misdiagnosed as vaginitis (a non-STD), an STD, or a yeast infection. It rarely leads to serious complications, but reports of pelvic abscess leading to scarring have been noted.
Diagnosis and Treatments of Green Vaginal Discharge
Diagnosis of Green Vaginal Discharge
Consult a doctor if you suspect that you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease or pelvic inflammatory disease. See a doctor immediately if you have green vaginal discharge and other symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, severe nausea or vomiting.
Delayed diagnosis and treatment may cause spread of the infection to other people. It can also affect one's own reproductive organs and lead to complications such as infertility. Proper diagnosis is made after your doctor takes a medical and personal history, performs a complete physical and pelvic examination, and takes a sample of the green vaginal discharge for laboratory analysis.
Treatments for Green Vaginal Discharge
If you have an infection, your treatment will usually include the use of prescribed antibiotics, which may be taken orally, inserted in the vagina, or given through your veins for serious cases. Antibiotic treatment usually stops the infection and prevents complications. But do not to share medications with your sexual partners for gonorrhea and chlamydia. They should visit a doctor and be treated appropriately. If a foreign body in vagina causes green vaginal discharge, it should be removed immediately.
Treatment must be followed up because a repeat infection may occur, especially for trichomoniasis and chlamydia. A repeat test may be necessary to determine if treatment was adequate. If your symptoms do not improve after more than a few days of treatment, ask your doctor to reevaluate your condition.