Vaginal Discharge After Menopause: What's Healthy?

Vaginal Discharge After Menopause: What's Healthy?

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 women will have discharge at all stages of their lives, and discharge after menopause is natural and common.

Most of the time, it’s simply your vagina taking care of itself, keeping itself clean and pristine.

Other times, unusual discharge may be a sign of vaginal irritation that is fairly easy to remedy.

And 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, including color, causes, and when to call your doctor.

In this article: 📝

  • Is it normal to have some discharge after menopause?
  • What should vaginal discharge be like after menopause?
  • Is it normal to have more discharge as you get older?
  • How to help with vaginal irritation after menopause?
  • What color is vaginal discharge after menopause?
  • When should I be concerned about discharge after menopause?

Is it normal to have some discharge after menopause?

Vaginal discharge is often normal at any life stage—though the amount may decrease or increase depending on where you’re at.

While it’s common for your vagina to lose moisture after menopause, some discharge is to be expected.

And as long as it’s clear, white, or almost off-white and doesn’t smell bad, there’s nothing to worry about.

If not, it’s typically caused by irritation in your vaginal wall, usually from having sex.

What should vaginal discharge be like after menopause?

First, 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”. 🎢

Menopause itself is actually one moment in time—the exact 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.

So, perimenopause is when many women begin to experience menopause symptoms like hot flashes and trouble sleeping.

And the discharge you experience during this stage might actually be the same discharge you had when you were regularly getting your period.

As estrogen goes up and down during perimenopause, it can cause fluctuations in the amount of normal vaginal discharge you experience.

But once you reach menopause and enter postmenopause, your estrogen levels decrease significantly, and this often leads to vaginal dryness.

Is it normal to have more discharge as you get older?

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.

So, if you haven’t quite reached menopause (that twelve-month mark) yet, the discharge you’re experiencing could well be related to your monthly cycle.

During postmenopause, you’ll no longer have the usual vaginal discharge you had during your fertile years.

So any increase in 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’re easily irritated by sex and from things like scented soaps and hot water.

It’s important to note, though, that the discharge you’ll see from irritation typically won’t smell bad.

How to help with vaginal irritation after menopause?

So what can you do to prevent vaginal irritation after menopause?

If sex is causing the irritation, lube is often a solid place to start.

The best lubricants for menopause dryness are the ones that keep your vaginal pH levels balanced.

Oil-based, water-based, and silicone-based—the lubricant you choose is entirely up to you.

There’s also vaginal moisturizers you can use on a daily basis, whether or not you are having sex.

Because vaginal dryness is related to a lack of estrogen, for some people, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can work to bring back some natural moisture to that area.

For others, natural remedies for menopause dryness can be far more impactful (and appealing).

And then there’s avoiding certain irritants on a day-to-day basis:

  • Daily use of pantyliners: Because pantyliners are designed to absorb moisture, they can be too drying against a postmenopausal vulva.
  • Scented pantyliners: These may contain chemicals that could irritate the sensitive tissue around your vagina.
  • Scented bubble baths and soaps: On one hand, hot bubble baths could dehydrate the skin, on the other, the overuse of scented products can alter your pH levels. The same goes for any other feminine hygiene sprays, powders, or washes.
  • Douches: Research has linked douching with vaginal dryness, burning, infection, and irritation. Best to avoid and stick to gentle, warm water when cleaning your vagina.
  • Tight synthetic clothing: And that includes polyester leggings or underwear. Go for cotton or other natural fibers instead.

What color is vaginal discharge after menopause?

Healthy vaginal discharge is typically clear or white-ish (like a thin lotion)—even after menopause. Most importantly, it shouldn’t smell bad.

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.

And while yeast infections are rare during menopause, but they do happen.

It’s also possible to get a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) after menopause. In fact, 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.

Other signs of a vaginal infection to keep an eye out for include:

  • Itching or burning of the vulva and/or vagina
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Fever
  • Pelvic pain

Should I worry about brown discharge after menopause?

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 and could even be caused by the same irritation that can lead to excess clear discharge.

Sometimes the vagina can become so irritated, especially through sex, that it can start bleeding.

But even 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.

When should I be concerned about discharge after menopause?

In rarer cases, bloody discharge could be a sign of a more serious illness or condition.

Polyps or an overly thick uterine lining (endometrial hyperplasia) can lead to bleeding.

Let’s talk them through:

Uterine polyps

Endometrial or uterine polyps are basically growths in the uterine lining.

Sometimes they are benign growths, and sometimes they are cancerous. But mainly, they’re associated with infertility.

In one 2009 study, 51.1% of postmenopausal women with endometrial polyps experienced uterine bleeding.

The other 48.9% had no symptoms at all.

It’s not entirely clear what causes uterine polyps, but it’s suggested that they may be related to a decrease in the expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors in stromal cells.

If your doctor confirms you have uterine polyps, they’ll likely suggest removing the polyps and sending them for further testing.

Endometrial hyperplasia

This is basically an irregular thickening of the uterine lining caused by a hormonal imbalance between estrogen and progesterone.

It’s most common in postmenopausal women over the age of 50 and if left untreated, could develop into endometrial cancer.

In most cases, endometrial hyperplasia in postmenopausal women is treated with progestin in the form of an injection, IUD (intrauterine device), vaginal cream, or as a progestin-only birth control pill.

For women with abnormal or precancerous cells, hysterectomy is the recommended treatment.

To check for uterine polyps or endometrial lining build up, 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.

In both cases, irregular vaginal bleeding is the telltale sign, so if you see blood or experience brown, pink, or red menopause discharge, book an appointment with your doctor.

Trusting your instincts is always best when it comes to your health.

It’s not always easy to speak up, but you’ll rarely regret it when you do.

Between fluctuating symptoms, countless treatment options, and changes with sexual intimacy, menopause can be a confusing time.

But you don’t have to go through any of it alone.

The Peanut menopause community has you. ❤️


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