cottage cheese discharge

Cottage Cheese Discharge – Do I have a yeast infection?

Cottage cheese discharge

Do I have a yeast infection?

Cottage cheese discharge is a very common and unique symptom of a vaginal yeast infection. According to the medical literature and research data, you probably have a yeast infection if you have the following symptoms:

  • Thick chunky clumpy cottage cheese like discharge.
  • Milky white discharge.
  • Intense itchiness around the vulva (vulval itch) with a strong urge to scratch (pruritus).
  • No odor, odorless discharge.

You may also have some variations and additional symptoms of vaginal yeast infections:

  • Light yellow discharge.
  • Mild non offensive yeast-bread like smell.
  • Irritation, inflammation, swelling and burning around the vagina.
  • Pain during urination (dysuria).
  • Pain during intercourse (dyspareunia).

The discharge color and consistency alone cannot make a diagnosis. For this reason, other symptoms that are considered unique signs of yeast infections such as the lack of discharge odor and intense itching are often used as well (source).

In this guide
Cottage cheese like discharge possible causes

Normal discharge

is it normal to have discharge?

Normal vaginal discharge is usually a white sticky discharge with non homogeneous consistency. The amount of normal discharge varies from woman to woman and can increase during ovulation, premenstrually, and during pregnancy. A normal discharge does not have an offensive odor or smell and is not associated with vaginal irritation, itching, or burning (source).

Abnormal discharge

Is white discharge normal?

Abnormal discharge can be a sign or an indication of an issue. Many women think they have an abnormal vaginal discharge at some point in their lives, but usually it is just a normal discharge. A normal discharge may appear as a  white or clear discharge with no offensive odor. The appearance, color and consistency may vary with the menstrual cycle and other factors (source).

You may have abnormal discharge if you notice any of the following changes:

  • The amount of your discharge has increased. A lot of white discharge or excessive discharge may indicate that there’s an underlying issue.
  • The consistency of your discharge has changed. Cottage cheese discharge is usually a sign of a vaginal yeast infection.
  • The odor and smell has changed and become offensive. Fishy smelling discharge is a common sign of bacterial vaginosis (source).
  • The discharge color has changed. Milky white discharge that look and feel different than your normal discharge may indicate of an issue. Yellow green discharge may be a sign of Trichomoniasis (trich), a very common sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite (source).
  • Discomforts around the vagina. Vaginal irritation, itching, or burning is usually a sign of an issue. Intense itchiness with the need to scratch is one of the common signs of a vaginal yeast infection. Other signs that may indicate of a problem are pain during intercourse or pain during urination.
  • Discomforts in other parts of the body. Discomfort in other areas such as abdominal pain, digestive issues that follow with the abnormal discharge should be considered during the diagnosis as they may be related. Abdominal pain may indicate of a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) (source) or vaginal bacterial infection (source). Digestive issues or skin infections may indicate of a systemic yeast infection overgrowth in the body.

Do I have a yeast infection?

When it comes to vaginal infections, it is always best to get tested by your doctor. This is very important since the needed treatment for each type of infection can be different. With that said, you may have a yeast infection if you have the following symptoms:

Vaginal yeast infection

Discharge Odor Affected Areas Possible Cause Treatment
White cottage cheese discharge
or
light yellow cottage cheese discharge.
No odor
or
mild yeast bread like smell.
Vagina only.
Itching in vagina.
Urge to scratch.
Vaginal yeast infection.
White cottage cheese discharge
or
light yellow cottage cheese discharge.
No odor
or
mild yeast bread like smell.
Vagina & other areas.
Itching in the vagina.
Urge to scratch.
Systemic candida overgrowth.
  • A critical point when treating vaginal yeast infection, is to identify if the infection affects only the vagina or if other areas in the body are affected as well. As you can see in the above table, the needed treatment is completely different.
  • To avoid chronic vaginal yeast infections and other complication as the untreated infection spreads,  it is important to confirm that no other yeast infection symptoms are present.
  • To see the complete list of yeast infection symptoms broken down by different areas in the body see:
    candida symptoms checker.

Cottage cheese like discharge vs. thick white discharge

Cottage cheese like discharge is actually used often in the medical literature to describe a vaginal yeast infection. The consistency of the discharge however, may also vary from one woman to another. It is possible that you still have a vaginal yeast infection even if your discharge does not look exactly like a cottage cheese discharge.

You may have a vaginal yeast infection if you have abnormal discharge that is:

  • Thick white discharge or thick white clumpy discharge or milky white discharge (color may be white to light yellow).
  • No odor or mild yeast bread like smell.
  • Itching in vagina.

Additional causes of abnormal discharge

The following scenarios are probably not related to a yeast infection issue and may be caused by STDs or bacterial infections. While not all symptoms may be present, a common alarming symptom that should require an immediate medical attention is discharge with odor, especially offensive fishy smelling discharge. Below are a few examples:

Thick white discharge with odor

If you have thick white discharge with odor, especially offensive fishy smelling discharge, there is a chance you have a bacterial vaginal infection. The fishy odor discharge is one of the criterias doctors are looking for when diagnosing bacterial vaginal infections (source).

Yellow green discharge or thick yellow discharge with odor

Thick yellow discharge with odor or yellow green discharge with odor may may be a sign of Trichomoniasis (trich), a very common sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite, especially if you have any of the following symptoms (source 1, source 2):

  • Frothy excessive discharge.
  • Offensive odor.
  • Vaginal itching (vulvar itching).
  • Painful urination (dysuria).
  • Abdominal pain.

Conclusion

Doctors usually test for vaginal infections by a combination of a vaginal exam, lab tests, risk factors based on your medical history and your symptoms. The way the discharge look and feel and the related symptoms described above can help you become more aware of the different signs. Sharing these with your doctor can help to diagnose the vaginal issue correctly. Abnormal discharge may be a sign of a serious medical problem. When in doubt, do not wait and get checked.

What your discharge can tell about your vaginal health?

Here is a brief summary of the main differences between a normal discharge to an abnormal discharge, when it is caused by common infections:

Infection Discharge Color Odor Unique Discomforts
Normal. Nonhomogeneous. Clear or white. No odor. None.
Vaginal Yeast Infection. Cottage cheese discharge. White. No odor. Intense vaginal itching, urge to scratch, inflammation, pain.
Trichomoniasis. Frothy, watery discharge. Yellow green. Fishy smelling. Vaginal itchiness, inflammation, pain.
Bacterial Vaginitis. Homogeneous. White grey. Fishy smelling.