Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MyEndometriosisTeam

Does Endometriosis Affect Vaginal Discharge?

Posted on December 27, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Dan Martin, M.D.
Article written by
Victoria Menard

It’s common to wonder what “normal” or healthy vaginal discharge looks like. If you have endometriosis, you may wonder whether changes to your usual discharge — like different colors, textures, or smells — are within the realm of endometriosis-related symptoms. If you have not been diagnosed with endometriosis, you may wonder whether changes in your vaginal discharge could point toward a condition like endometriosis.

Endometriosis can sometimes change a person’s discharge, so it can be helpful to understand what is normal for you — and what may warrant a trip to the doctor. Changes in your discharge, especially when accompanied by symptoms like severe abdominal pain and irregular menstrual periods, may indicate a bacterial or viral infection or a chronic condition like endometriosis.

How Endometriosis May Affect Vaginal Discharge

In endometriosis, tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus, often on the reproductive organs or in the abdomen. Just like the normal uterine lining, this endometrial-like tissue can shed during the menstrual cycle, though it may become trapped in the body instead of exiting through the vagina.

Vaginal discharge is a combination of vaginal fluids and cells from the cervix, uterus, and vagina. This fluid is shed from the vagina and serves several purposes, including providing natural lubrication (moisture), protecting the vagina from irritants and infection, and generally keeping the vaginal tissues healthy.

Both the growth of endometriosis lesions and endometriosis’s effects on the menstrual cycle may cause changes in a person’s usual discharge — typically in color and, less often, in smell or texture.

Changes in Vaginal Discharge Color

One of the common symptoms of endometriosis is irregular menstrual bleeding. People with endometriosis frequently experience abnormally heavy bleeding during menstruation or abnormal vaginal bleeding at other times during the menstrual cycle (spotting). Spotting between periods can cause vaginal discharge to appear pink, brown, or black.

Lighter colors, like pink, typically result from fresh bleeding. Pink vaginal discharge in endometriosis may be caused by spotting between periods. It may also be related to hormonal changes due to endometriomas, or cysts that have developed in the ovaries (also known as chocolate cysts).

Darker (brown or black) discharge in endometriosis tends to result from blood that has been trapped in the body for longer periods of time. Both irregular menstrual bleeding and abnormal endometrial tissue that has become trapped (prevented from shedding) may contribute to dark-colored discharge. Black discharge, in particular, may also be caused by the release of trapped blood from vaginal endometriosis.

Changes in Vaginal Discharge Texture or Smell

Endometriosis itself is unlikely to affect the texture or smell of vaginal discharge. However, one research review suggested that endometriosis may be linked to an increased risk of developing infections in the upper genital tract, such as bacterial vaginosis. These types of infections can cause changes to the texture, smell, and color of vaginal discharge.

What Is “Normal” Vaginal Discharge Like?

Differences in vaginal discharge are normal — the amount, consistency, look, texture, and smell of vaginal discharge can vary from person to person. Discharge can also change with the menstrual cycle, varying from thin, clear, or watery to white, thick, and sticky. Changes in the texture of vaginal discharge are particularly common around ovulation, or the period in the menstrual cycle during which an egg is released from an ovary into the fallopian tube.

Healthy vaginal discharge typically varies from whitish to clear and has only a mild odor. Vaginal discharge that has a strong smell, an out-of-the-ordinary change in texture, or a green or yellow color may indicate bacterial or viral infections, including sexually transmitted infections. These changes may necessitate a trip to the doctor.

When To See a Doctor

Though variations in vaginal discharge are normal, it is important to understand what is out of the ordinary for you. According to the Mayo Clinic and the National Health Service, you should visit your health care provider or a gynecologist if you notice the following:

  • Discharge that has a strong odor
  • Discharge that is heavier than usual
  • Changes in discharge texture (particularly to the texture of cottage cheese)
  • Changes in discharge color, including yellow or green
  • Discharge that is accompanied by pelvic pain or pain during urination
  • Discharge that is accompanied by redness, burning, itching, or irritation of the vulva or urethra

If you experience these changes, your doctor may recommend undergoing tests for certain bacterial or viral infections. If you have other symptoms of endometriosis, talk to your doctor about whether it’s appropriate to look into an endometriosis diagnosis.

Find Your Team

MyEndometriosisTeam is the social network for people with endometriosis and their loved ones. Members come together to share stories, ask and answer questions, and connect with others who understand life with endometriosis.

Have something to add to the conversation? Share your thoughts in the comments below or by posting on MyEndometriosisTeam.

Dan Martin, M.D. is the scientific and medical director of the Endometriosis Foundation of America. Learn more about him here.
Victoria Menard is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

Recent articles

Endometriosis occurs when cells (called endometrial cells) that normally line the uterus grow in...

Cervical Endometriosis: An Overview

Endometriosis occurs when cells (called endometrial cells) that normally line the uterus grow in...
Scientific studies on endometriosis have shown that both environment and genetics play a role in...

Is Low Vitamin D Level a Risk Factor for Developing Endometriosis?

Scientific studies on endometriosis have shown that both environment and genetics play a role in...
Endometriosis is a widespread condition that affects at least 1 in 10 women worldwide, according...

Endometriosis Complications Explained

Endometriosis is a widespread condition that affects at least 1 in 10 women worldwide, according...
There are many risk factors for endometriosis, the painful condition in which tissue similar to...

Cigarettes and Endometriosis: Are Smoking and Secondhand Smoke Risk Factors?

There are many risk factors for endometriosis, the painful condition in which tissue similar to...
Endometriosis affects about 5 million people in the United States and about 10 percent to 15...

What Is Dioxin, and How Does It Raise the Risk for Severe Endometriosis?

Endometriosis affects about 5 million people in the United States and about 10 percent to 15...
Endometriosis is a painful and chronic condition that affects more than 11 percent of women of...

Endometriosis Adhesions: Ways To Find Relief

Endometriosis is a painful and chronic condition that affects more than 11 percent of women of...
It is estimated that endometriosis — a condition in which the endometrial tissue grows outside of...

Risk Factors for Endometriosis: Your Guide

It is estimated that endometriosis — a condition in which the endometrial tissue grows outside of...
In endometriosis, endometrial tissue spreads beyond the uterine lining. Generally, endometrial...

Can Endometriosis Affect the Sciatic Region?

In endometriosis, endometrial tissue spreads beyond the uterine lining. Generally, endometrial...
If you live with endometriosis, it may be difficult to get the sleep you need. Members of...

Best Sleeping Positions for Endometriosis

If you live with endometriosis, it may be difficult to get the sleep you need. Members of...
Members of MyEndometriosisTeam sometimes ask about oral contraceptive (birth control) pills and...

Birth Control Pills for Endometriosis: Do They Help?

Members of MyEndometriosisTeam sometimes ask about oral contraceptive (birth control) pills and...
MyEndometriosisTeam My endometriosis Team

Thank you for signing up.

close