What Causes Yellow Discharge Before Your Period?

Medically Reviewed By Carla Prophete, MPAS, PA-C
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You may experience vaginal discharge for many different reasons. Yellow discharge before your period is not uncommon. Most causes are nothing to worry about. However, it can also be a sign of early pregnancy and infection. Vaginal discharge is a common occurrence, and you may experience different colors of discharge. Each color typically means something different. The consistency and texture of the discharge can also signal various concerns.

This article explains the causes of yellow discharge before your period. It will also go over when to contact a doctor about your discharge.

Thin, watery yellow discharge

Women's underwear drying on a washing line
Giada Canu/Stocksy United

It is common to experience vaginal discharge, which is typically clear or white. It may appear yellowish when it dries on your underwear.

Vaginal discharge can change throughout your menstrual cycle. The discharge may increase during ovulation, which happens around 15 to 16 days before you start your period. This discharge is typically slippery and clear.

An increase in thin, watery discharge that may have a yellow tinge can also indicate that you are about to start menstruating. Other signs that your period is about to start may include premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.

These symptoms include:

  • bloating
  • tenderness in your breasts
  • mood shifts
  • irritability
  • spotty skin or oily hair
  • reduced interest in sex

Not everyone who menstruates experiences PMS. Those who do typically notice a decrease in symptoms after their period begins.

Thick yellow discharge

Changes in your vaginal discharge can be a sign of infection. The amount of discharge you have may change based on your cycle, sexual arousal, or pregnancy. However, the consistency of your discharge typically changes only if other factors are involved.

Thick discharge that is generally white with a cottage cheese-like consistency is usually a sign of thrush or a yeast infection. It may appear yellowish when it dries on your underwear. This is generally a secondary symptom of an overgrowth of Candida in your vagina.

Other signs of a yeast infection include:

  • itching and soreness in the vaginal area
  • pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • pain or discomfort when urinating

Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. They will be able to tell you if you are experiencing a yeast infection and advise you on how to treat it. Typically yeast infections are treated with antifungal medication.

Read more about yeast infections.

Smelly yellow discharge

Typical vaginal discharge does not have a strong odor. If you notice that your discharge has changed and taken on a fishy smell, it may be a sign of an underlying issue.

Discharge that results from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) generally has a strong odor and is:

  • yellow
  • green
  • clear
  • white

Keep in mind, not all STIs cause discharge or a smell.

Other signs of STIs like trichomoniasis (trich), bacterial vaginosis (BV), and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) include:

  • itching, burning, or soreness in the vaginal area
  • discomfort when urinating
  • redness or discoloration
  • discomfort or pain during sex
  • bleeding between periods
  • pain in your lower abdomen
  • fever

Not everyone with one of these STIs will experience symptoms. If you do experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

Read more about STIs.

Infographic of colors of discharge and what they mean
Design by Mekhi Baldwin

When to contact a doctor

If you notice any changes to your vaginal discharge, you may want to consider contacting your doctor. Contacting your doctor is especially important if you both notice changes to your discharge and experience other symptoms.

Issues like yeast infections and STIs require medical treatment. The sooner you get the necessary treatment, the sooner the infection can go away.

In the case of STIs, you can spread them to your sexual partners if you do not get treated for them.

Summary

It is common to experience discharge before you begin your period.

Typical discharge is clear or white. It may have a yellow tinge and may appear yellow when it dries on your underwear. It does not usually have a strong odor to it.

The amount of discharge you experience may increase depending on where in your cycle you are, pregnancy, and sexual arousal.

If the consistency of your discharge changes — for example, it becomes thicker — or it changes color, it may be a sign of an underlying infection. These infections can include yeast infections or STIs like trich, BV, and PID.

Contact your doctor about any changes to your vaginal discharge, especially if they occur with symptoms like itching, discomfort when urinating, or discomfort during sex. These are all signs of underlying issues that may require medical treatment.

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Medical Reviewer: Carla Prophete, MPAS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 17
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