Is this normal?

Vaginal discharge can change with age. Here's how to spot signs of a problem that might warrant a trip to the doctor.

Vaginal discharge and bleeding can change during different stages of life, and what's typical for you might not be typical for your sister, your daughter, or your friend. "When it comes to vaginal discharge, a wide range of 'normal' can be considered," says Dr. Kristin Hung, instructor in obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.

Not only is there natural variation between women, but what's normal for your own body may also change over time. So how can you tell when something is wrong, or if the changes you're noticing are just the result of aging or hormonal shifts? "Typically, most women know their own bodies, and anything new, unusual, or persistent is a reason to seek evaluation," says Dr. Hung. That said, she adds, there are some changes that are pretty typical and others that might warrant a little more scrutiny through a visit to your doctor. Here's how to tell the difference.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »