What Causes Green Discharge From the Vagina?

An STI is the most common reason for this

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Green discharge from the vagina is always abnormal and is typically a sign of an infection that requires medical attention. It can indicate a sexually transmitted infection (STI), a different kind of bacterial infection, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a forgotten tampon, or another concern.

Green discharge may accompany other abnormalities in the discharge, such as changes in thickness, consistency, and odor. These can help your healthcare provider diagnose the problem.

This article goes over the potential causes of green discharge, what other symptoms to watch for, treatment options, prevention, and when to see a healthcare provider.

When to See a Doctor for Green Vaginal Discharge - Illustration by Julie Bang

Verywell / Julie Bang

Causes of Green Discharge

Sexually transmitted infections are the most common causes of green discharge, but there are others.

Green discharge may result from:

  • Trichomoniasis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • A foreign object in the vagina


Colloquially called "trich," trichomoniasis is an STI caused by a parasite that lives inside the vagina or penis. Having sex without a condom can spread it from one person to another.

Trichomoniasis can cause green discharge that may may be:

  • Thin
  • Foamy
  • Foul, fishy smelling

Discharge can also be yellow or white.

Other symptoms of trichomoniasis include:

  • Itching, burning, discoloration, or soreness of the genitalia
  • Painful urination
  • An unpleasant feeling during sex

In the U.S. every year, an estimated 2 million people are diagnosed with this condition. Trichomoniasis is usually treated with antibiotics in pill form.


Gonorrhea is a bacterial STI that's also known as "the clap." It can be prevented by condom use. If you're pregnant and have gonorrhea, you can spread the infection to your baby.

A gonorrhea infection may cause a vaginal discharge that is:

  • Thick
  • Green or yellow
  • Heavier than usual

Other symptoms may include:

  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • If untreated, PID, which can lead to chronic pelvic pain and infertility
  • If untreated, a blood infection called disseminated gonococcal infection, which can lead to arthritis, joint infection, and dermatitis (a skin infection)

Many people with gonorrhea don't have any symptoms. The highest rates of gonorrhea infection are among sexually active teenagers, young adults, and Black people.

Gonorrhea is generally treated with an injection of an antibiotic called ceftriaxone.


Chlamydia is a bacterial infection and the most common STI, especially among young people. It can also be passed to a baby during childbirth.

Chlamydia often has no symptoms. When it does cause symptoms, you may notice a vaginal discharge that is:

  • Green, yellow, or white
  • A strong odor

Other possible symptoms are:

  • Painful urination
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Irritation or itching around your genitals
  • If the infection spreads, lower abdominal pain, nausea, or fever
  • If untreated, PID

Condom use can protect you against chlamydia. The condition is treated with antibiotics, generally in pill form.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Also called BV, bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of the wrong type of bacteria in the vagina. This changes the normal bacterial balance of bacteria within the vagina.

Researchers don't know for sure what causes BV. However, it's more common in people who are sexually active. It also increases your risk of contracting STIs.

BV can cause discharge that is:

  • Green, grey, or off-white
  • Thin and milky
  • Fishy smelling

Other symptoms include:

  • Vaginal pain, itching, or burning
  • Itching around the vaginal opening
  • Painful urination
  • A stronger fishy smell after sex

About 30% of people with female reproductive organs will have BV at some point in their lives. It's most common between ages 15 and 44.

BV is most often treated with antibiotics in pill form.

What Is Vulvovaginitis?

Also called vaginitis, vulvovaginitis is an infection or swelling in the vagina or the vulva (external genitalia). It's an umbrella term that covers BV, trichomoniasis, and yeast infections.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Often caused by untreated gonorrhea, chlamydia, or other bacteria, PID is an infection of the female reproductive organs. Along with STIs, it can be caused by normal vaginal bacteria that move into the reproductive organs.

PID may cause a discharge that is:

  • Green or yellow
  • Foul-smelling

Not everyone has symptoms of PID. When symptoms are present, they can include:

  • Dull pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • Extra-long periods, spotting, or cramps throughout the month
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Pain during sex
  • Low back pain
  • Painful urination

Complications of PID can be serious, meaning treatment is especially important. Possible complications are:

  • Scar tissue inside and outside of the fallopian tubes, which can lead to blocked tubes
  • Ectopic pregnancy (when the fetus implants outside of the uterus)
  • Infertility
  • Chronic pelvic and/or abdominal pain

Douching and getting a new intrauterine device (IUD) can increase your risk of PID. In rare cases, it can be caused by abortion, miscarriage, giving birth, or amniocentesis (a test that involves taking fluid from a pregnant uterus).

PID is typically treated with antibiotics in pill form.

Foreign Objects in Vagina

If a foreign object (something that shouldn't be there) is left in the vagina, your body may produce discharge in reaction to it. This problem is rare and more common in children and adolescents than in adults.

Common foreign objects include:

  • Tampons left in for several days
  • Broken portions of condoms
  • A condom that comes off in the vagina
  • Objects inserted for sexual pleasure
  • Objects inserted as part of a child's self-exploration
  • Bits of toilet paper or fibers from clothing, especially in children

Discharge caused by foreign objects may be:

  • Greenish yellow, yellow, brown, or pink (due to blood)
  • Foul-smelling

Other symptoms can include:

  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Painful, difficult, or frequent urination
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Systemic infection
  • Ulceration (break) in the vaginal walls

Cases of foreign object problems are sometimes tied to sexual abuse. Treatment involves:

  • Removal of the foreign object, which may require a minor procedure
  • Antibiotics if it caused an infection
  • In severe cases, possible surgical repair of ulceration or other serious damage

Other Symptoms Tied to Green Discharge

Several conditions that cause green discharge have similar symptoms, so it can be hard to figure out the cause on your own. A complete list of your symptoms can help your healthcare provider decide where to start the diagnostic process.

Genital or reproductive systems to report to your doctor include:

  • Redness of the vulva or vagina
  • Swelling of the vulva or vagina
  • Itchy vagina or vulva
  • Cracks or cuts to the vulva
  • Painful urination
  • Painful sex
  • Irregular periods
  • Bleeding between periods

Other symptoms you should let your doctor know about are:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Pain in the pelvis
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Bleeding or discharge of mucus from the rectum
  • Throat infection or pain (if infected both orally and vaginally)

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

You should immediately contact your healthcare provider if you have green discharge accompanied by:

  • A fever
  • Pain in the pelvis
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Known exposure to a sexually transmitted infection

You should also be aware of symptoms that may be an indication of an infection that requires treatment. See your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:

  • Sudden changes to color, consistency, or odor of discharge
  • Itching in the genital area
  • Swelling in the genital area
  • Redness in the genital area
  • Worsening symptoms
  • Symptoms last longer than a week
  • Blisters on the vagina or vulva
  • Sores on the vagina or vulva
  • Burning with urination

You should always see your healthcare practitioner under the following circumstances:

  • The symptoms do not completely go away, even with treatment
  • Symptoms return immediately or soon after you finish treatment
  • You have other medical conditions like diabetes
  • You have a new sexual partner
  • You may be pregnant

Unless symptoms are severe, you should be able to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. However, if they can't get you in for a while or symptoms get worse, urgent care may be a good option.

If you have symptoms of an infection that are severe or worrisome, call 911 or go to an emergency room.

Green Discharge in Pregnancy

Clear to white discharge is normal in pregnancy and not a cause for concern. Green or brown discharge can be from an infection like thrush or bacterial vaginosis. See your healthcare provider if you develop green or brown discharge.

Preventing Conditions Linked to Green Discharge

You can take steps to avoid the conditions that lead to abnormal vaginal discharge. These include:

  • Practicing safer sex
  • Wiping from front to back
  • Wearing cotton underwear during the day
  • Not wearing underwear at night to allow the genitals to "breathe"
  • Avoiding hot tubs
  • Bathing every day and patting dry the genital area
  • Not douching
  • Not using feminine hygiene spray
  • Not using colored or perfumed toilet paper
  • Not using scented pads or tampons
  • Not using scented bubble bath


Green discharge is always abnormal and warrants medical attention. It may be a sign of a bacterial STI, other bacterial infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, or a foreign body in the vagina.

Watch for other symptoms that may accompany green discharge, including a foul odor, painful urination, and signs of infection. These can help your healthcare provider reach a diagnosis.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have pain and fever along with green discharge. Treatment varies by diagnosis but most often involves antibiotics.

You can prevent conditions that lead to abnormal discharge by practicing safe sex and avoiding scented products in or around the vagina.

A Word From Verywell

It can be alarming to discover something unusual, like green vaginal discharge, in your underwear. But while this development is a cause for concern, remember that most conditions that can cause green discharge are easily treatable.

The sooner that you make an appointment with your healthcare provider, the sooner you can get appropriate treatment and be on your way to feeling better.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I get rid of green discharge?

    Green discharge is often a sign of a bacterial infection or medical condition and will require diagnosis treatment by a healthcare provider. In many cases, treatment includes prescription antibiotics.

  • Can yeast infection discharge look green?

    Yeast infections typically cause discharge that is white, clumpy, and odorless. If your discharge is green, it is likely related to a different infection or condition.

  • Can you have green discharge and not have an STI?

    Yes. While green discharge is often indicative of an STI, it may also be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease, bacterial vaginosis, or a foreign body stuck in the vagina.

  • Does trichomoniasis go away?

    Trichomoniasis will not go away without antibiotics. Without treatment, the infection can last for months or years and can be passed on to sexual partners.

  • What does normal discharge look like?

    Healthy vaginal discharge is typically clear, white, or off-white. It may be thin and sticky or thick and gooey.

18 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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