Complete Symptom Guide to Vaginal Discharge | Stella

Menopause and increased vaginal discharge


Changes to your vaginal discharge are a common and sometimes annoying part of menopause. However, some forms of discharge could be a sign that something else is going on, or that HRT could be helpful to you.

Read on to learn more.


It is normal to experience vaginal discharge throughout your life. This is a combination of mucus or fluid that helps to keep the vagina clean and healthy.

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Most women have daily vaginal discharge. However, over 50% are affected by menopausal changes to the vagina known as genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM).

GSM is often associated with changes to your discharge. Most sufferers will experience dryness, although some find that they have much more discharge than previously.

Other symptoms of GSM include vaginal tightness, painful sex and urinary symptoms among others. 

Sound familiar? Read more about painful sex, UTIs and menopause.


Sticky or watery discharge


Dampness in your underwear

Other symptoms of GSM, including occasional uncomfortable dryness, vaginal tightness, painful sex and urinary changes


See your doctor

Increased discharge has many different causes. These include thrush and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among others. Many of these can be treated easily and quickly, so check it out!

Keep an eye out for unusual bleeding

Changes to your bleeding pattern and increased discharge sometimes go hand in hand. Any bleeding between periods or after sex needs checking out as it could be a sign of something more serious. The same goes for any discharge that is bloody or has a pink tinge. See your doctor as soon as possible if this happens to you.

Think about HRT

If your increased discharge is due to GSM, HRT can be a highly effective treatment. Ask your doctor if this could be an option for you.

Stay fresh

If you have heavy discharge, you may find that your underwear is often damp. Try to keep your underwear clean and dry if possible in order to prevent infections and irritation to your vulva. You may want to try using a panty liner or changing your underwear more regularly.

Avoid perfumed products and chemicals

Products like bubble bath and vaginal washes can irritate your vagina and lead to a further increase in discharge. If you are really struggling, try switching baths to showers and see if it helps. Vaginal washes and douches are unnecessary – at any point in your life, not just menopause. Believe it or not, your vagina is self-cleaning!


If your increased discharge is caused by GSM, HRT can be very helpful.

GSM is typically treated with topical HRT. This is an effective and proven treatment for all symptoms of GSM including tightness, dryness, painful sex, urinary symptoms and of course increased discharge.

Topical HRT comes in the form of vaginal creams, gels and pessaries (vaginal tablets). From here it is absorbed directly into the vagina and surrounding tissues.

Because the hormones stay in and around the vagina, they are not absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that this form of HRT comes without the risks associated with so-called systemic HRT – including pills and patches.

Considering if this might be for you? Read more about the different types of HRT.


This is often a symptom of GSM, which is caused by the decrease in oestrogen seen at menopause.

The tissues in the vagina and genital area respond to oestrogen, which keeps them plump, healthy and resilient. When oestrogen levels decline, this protective effect is lost and tissues become more fragile, inflamed and sore.

Increased discharge sometimes happens as a reaction to the inflammation and irritation caused by GSM.

See your doctor if you have any persistent, annoying or unusual vaginal discharge.

Seek urgent medical assistance if you have:

  • Unusual bleeding including between periods or after sex
  • Any bleeding after the menopause
  • Any smelly, green or foul discharge
  • Any blood-stained or pink discharge
  • Any pain in the vagina, genitals or abdomen
  • Any ulcers or sores on your genitals
  • Any signs of a water infection including burning, stinging, frequency or blood in the urine
  • Any high temperatures
  • Any other worrying symptoms or serious concerns

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the colour of your discharge. Brown discharge is common and can be caused by bleeding or infection.

Speak to your doctor if you have brown discharge in menopause. If it’s been over a year since your last period this could be a subtle sign of post-menopausal bleeding, which needs careful assessment. It also needs to be checked out if it’s happening between periods or after sex.

If you notice any burning, itching, funny smells, urinary symptoms or discomfort, your brown discharge could be caused by an infection. Again, check in with your doctor for further advice.

  • Gandhi, J. et al. Genitourinary syndrome of menopause: an overview of clinical manifestations, pathophysiology, etiology, evaluation, and management. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 215 (6): p704-711,
  •  Mayo Clinic on Vaginal atrophy


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