Vaginal discharge after menopause is common. It’s usually a sign of irritation and can be helped with lubricants or medication.
Vaginal discharge after menopause can be confusing.
Aren’t we supposed to be done with any and all fluids coming out of our vaginas by this point?
The truth is, discharge after menopause is pretty common.
Most of the time, it’s a sign of vaginal irritation and is fairly easy to remedy.
In rare cases, it can be a sign of something more serious.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about menopause discharge.
We’ll talk about what causes vaginal discharge after menopause, what to do about it, and when to call your doctor.
In this article: 📝
- Is it normal to have some discharge after menopause?
- What color is discharge after menopause?
- When should I be concerned about discharge?
Is it normal to have some discharge after menopause?
Yes, it’s very normal to have some discharge after menopause.
It’s typically caused by irritation in your vaginal wall, usually from having sex.
It’s important to be clear on the difference between postmenopausal discharge and perimenopausal discharge.
Often when we talk about “menopause,” what we’re actually talking about is the hormone rollercoaster known as “perimenopause”
Though we often refer to the entire menopausal transition as “menopause,” menopause itself is actually one moment in time — it’s the day twelve months after your last period.
The time leading up to that moment is known as perimenopause
And the rest of your life after that moment is postmenopause.
During perimenopause, the discharge you experience might actually be the same discharge you had when you were regularly getting your period.
During our fertile years, discharge is almost always present in some amount inside the vagina.
As your estrogen increases and you approach ovulation, the discharge increases in quantity and becomes extra slippery.
If you haven’t quite reached menopause (that twelve-month mark) yet, the discharge you’re experiencing could still be related to your monthly cycle.
As estrogen goes up and down during perimenopause, it can cause fluctuations in the amount of normal vaginal discharge you experience.
As long as the discharge is clear or white and doesn’t smell bad, there is likely nothing to worry about.
Once you reach menopause and enter postmenopause, your estrogen levels decrease significantly, and this often leads to vaginal dryness.
During postmenopause, you will no longer have the usual vaginal discharge you had during your fertile years.
So discharge you see after menopause is most likely the result of irritation to the vagina.
Because the vaginal walls become thinner and drier after menopause, they are easily irritated by sex and from things like scented soaps and hot water.
The discharge you’ll see from irritation will be clear and won’t smell bad.
So what can you do to prevent vaginal irritation after menopause?
If sex is causing the irritation, you can try using lube.
There are also moisturizers you can use on a daily basis, whether or not you are having sex.
Check out our list of favorite lubricants for menopause here.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can also help for some people.
Since vaginal dryness is related to a lack of estrogen, replacing estrogen can bring back some natural moisture to that area.
You can read more about the risks and benefits of HRT here.
There is also a prescription drug called Osphena that can help with vaginal dryness.
Check with your doctor to see if something like this is appropriate for your situation.
Some other irritants to avoid are:
- Daily use of pantyliners — because they are meant to absorb moisture, they can actually be too drying against a postmenopausal vulva.
- Scented pantyliners
- Scented bubble baths
- Douches and any other feminine hygiene sprays, powders, or washes
- Tight synthetic clothing, including polyester leggings or underwear — go for cotton or other natural fibers instead.
What color is discharge after menopause?
Vaginal discharge after menopause is usually clear or white-ish (like a thin lotion).
If it’s any other colors, it’s worth checking out with your doctor.
Vaginal infections can cause colored discharge, including yellow, gray, and green.
Yeast infections are rare during menopause, but they do happen.
It’s also possible to get a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) after menopause.
STI’s are actually on the rise among older Americans.
It may feel strange to use condoms after menopause, but it’s a good idea to do so with new partners.
Signs of an infection are:
- Green, yellow, gray, or white cottage cheese-like discharge
- Itching or burning of the vulva and/or vagina
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Pelvic pain
If you have any symptoms of an infection, head to your doctor.
Brown vaginal discharge after menopause is also something to check with your doctor.
Brown, pink, or red discharge means there is some kind of bleeding happening.
About 10% of women experience vaginal bleeding after menopause.
Often, this bleeding is harmless.
It can be caused by the same irritation that can lead to excess clear discharge after menopause.
Sometimes the vagina can become so irritated, especially through sex, that it can start bleeding.
If you think your bleeding is from irritation to the vaginal wall, it’s still a good idea to check with your doctor.
Once you’ve confirmed that irritation is the culprit, you can try lubes, vaginal moisturizers, or hormone replacement therapy, like the ones we discussed.
When should I be concerned about discharge?
In rarer cases, bloody discharge could be a sign of a more serious illness or condition.
Polyps or an overly thick uterine lining can lead to bleeding.
A thickened uterine lining can be associated with cancer.
Uterine polyps are growths in the uterine lining.
Sometimes they are benign growths, and sometimes they are cancerous.
To check for uterine polyps, your doctor might use:
- A transvaginal ultrasound, where an ultrasound wand is inserted into the vagina.
- A hysteroscopy, where your doctor inserts a lighted telescope that resembles a thin wire into your vagina, up through your cervix, and into the uterus.
- An endometrial biopsy, where your doctor collects a specimen from your uterus using a suction catheter.
If your doctor confirms you have uterine polyps, they will likely suggest removing the polyps and sending them for further testing.
So, again, if you see blood — brown, pink, or red — in your menopause discharge, please see your doctor ASAP for a check-up.
In all likelihood, it’s nothing to be worried about, but there’s no harm in getting it checked out.
Menopause can be a confusing time.
You don’t have to go through it alone.
Check out our Peanut menopause community for support.