After puberty, every person with a vagina produces vaginal discharge.
Vaginal discharge is a natural part of the vagina’s cleansing process.
But sometimes, the color, odor, or volume of the discharge can cause concern.
Normal vaginal discharge usually appears clear or milky white.
If you notice an orange-colored discharge, you may be worried about your health and wondering what could be causing it.
In this article, I’ll discuss the causes of orange discharge and when to see your healthcare provider or about the discharge.
Orange Discharge Causes
In general, sudden unusual changes in the color and smell of discharge may be a sign of an infection or an underlying medical condition.
Because orange discharge is not a normal finding, it is important that you see a healthcare provider if it occurs.
Orange vaginal discharge can often be a sign of a vaginal infection.
Two vaginal infections that may be responsible for abnormally colored discharge are trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis.
But there are also other possible causes of orange discharge, like implantation and the end of a menstrual cycle.
See below for some of these other causes:
- Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): Bacterial vaginosis is a common infection that occurs when there’s an imbalance of the good bacteria in your vagina. It may not be clear what’s caused the infection, but some causes include douching and the use of certain vaginal products. Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with home remedies or may need prescription medication from your healthcare provider. Symptoms of BV include abnormal colored discharge, vaginal odor that is a “fishy” smell, and vaginal irritation.
- Trichomoniasis: Trichomoniasis is an STI caused by a parasite. Anyone can get trichomoniasis, but it happens more often in people with vaginas. About 70% of infected people do not get any symptoms when they have trichomoniasis. Trichomoniasis vaginal infections may cause vaginal odor that may or may not be fishy, discomfort while urinating, itching and soreness of the vagina, and changes in vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge may appear white, yellowish, or greenish. People with trichomoniasis need treatment to get better, which typically involves taking prescribed antibiotics. Your sexual partners also need treatment to avoid passing the disease to other partners or back and forth between the two of you.
- Implantation: If you notice orange discharge, the appearance may be due to light vaginal bleeding due to implantation. Implantation is when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. It usually happens 10-14 days after sex. No vaginal odor is present with implantation. If you notice pink or orange vaginal spotting and no period, see a healthcare provider.
Orange Period Blood
Apart from blood, other fluids can find their way out of the vagina during periods.
These fluids mix with blood to give a color lighter than red.
Sometimes, this color may appear orange. If you notice orange period blood, it may simply mean that blood’s color has been altered by normal discharge.
Orange period blood may happen during the end of your period.
Your discharge tends to turn brown or rust-colored as your menstrual cycle ends. Noticing an orange color could mean that your blood is mixing with normal vaginal discharge.
This should not cause vaginal irritation or a foul or fishy vaginal odor.
Is Orange Discharge Normal?
Orange discharge may not be a problem but is not a type of discharge that is commonly seen so seeing a healthcare provider is recommended unless the discharge is due to your period.
If your discharge comes with a foul odor, painful urination, or itching, it can mean an infection is present.
Don’t self-diagnose—see a healthcare provider as soon as you can. You may need testing and be prescribed medication.
What to Do About Orange Discharge
Orange discharge can be normal if it appears during implantation, at the beginning of your period, or the end of your period.
If you notice that it is accompanied by other symptoms, discuss it with your healthcare provider.
Here are some tips that can help you with any unpleasant symptoms you might be feeling:
- Avoid douching. Keep sprays, powders, and fragrances away from your vagina, as they’ll only make symptoms worse.
- Avoid using tampons when you have an infection. Use pads instead.
- If you use tampons, be sure to change them often.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes that allow more air to reach your genitals.
- Wear cotton underwear or underwear with cotton lining in the crotch. Cotton reduces moisture buildup, which can worsen infections.
It’s also vital that you:
- Wipe from front to back after using the toilet. Wiping in the opposite direction exposes your vagina to bacteria.
- Wash your genital area properly after using the bathroom.
- Practice safe sex.
- Clean sex toys after use.
What Does Normal Discharge Look Like?
Normal vaginal discharge can be clear, white, thick, sticky, slippery, wet, but lacks a strong and unpleasant smell.
The amount of vaginal discharge varies between individuals and mainly depends on the menstrual cycle phase.
For instance, there is typically more discharge during ovulation than a day before your period.
It’s also normal for vaginal discharge to get heavier if you’re sexually active, using birth control, or pregnant.
When to See a Medical Provider
See a healthcare provider if you have orange discharge and you notice:
- Itchiness and soreness
- More discharge than usual
- Pain when peeing
- Unpleasant smell, or change in discharge smell and texture
- Bleeding after sex
- Bleeding between periods
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pain (pain between your tummy and thighs)
- Orange discharge that does not resolve when your period stops
How K Health Can Help
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K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Bacterial Vaginosis – CDC Fact Sheet. (2022).
Vaginal Discharge. (2021).
Vaginal Itching and Discharge - Adult and Adolescent. (2022).