HPV Discharge: What Does It Look Like?

HPV Discharge: What Does It Look Like?

HPV is also known as Human Papillomavirus. It is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. It has more than 150 different strains and 40 of them are sexually transmitted. HPV can infect the genitals of males and females, leading to warts or cancers. Also, they can infect the mouth and throat, but this is uncommon.

Statistics show that nearly 80% of all Americans will get HPV at some point in their lives. HPV does not cause any symptoms at all. And, that is why most patients don’t know they have the virus and spread it to others. In some cases, HPV symptoms do occur, but are often mistaken for another condition like herpes. For women, HPV causes abnormal discharge, but sometimes it does not.

If you are sexually active, and your vaginal discharge has changed, you’ve come to the right place. This article is about HPV discharge: why it happens, what does it looks like, and what to do.

Vaginal Discharge: What’s Normal and What’s Not?

Vaginal discharge is mucus fluid that comes from the vagina. It can occur at any time and you may see it in your underwear or on your toilet paper after you wipe. Vaginal discharge is normal if it is clear and white, thick and sticky, or thin, stretchy and slippery.

Normal vaginal discharge is important to keep your vagina clean and moist. Also, it can protect your vagina from infections. Some girls or women may have less vaginal discharge. Others may have a lot of vaginal discharge. This is actually normal and usually isn’t anything to worry about.

Your vaginal discharge is abnormal if it changes in smell, color or texture. For example:

  • A change in color: yellow, green, brown, bloody or grayish
  • A change in odor: foul- or fishy-smelling discharge
  • A change in texture: clumpy, foamy and looks similar to cottage cheese
  • Redness, pain, itching and a burning sensation in the vagina
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods

If your discharge changes, it can be a sign of an infection, for instance HPV.

Read more: HPV in Women: 5 Important Things to Know About

Vaginal discharge and HPV

What Does HPV Discharge Look Like?

As mentioned earlier, HPV can infect the female genital organs including the vagina, vulva and cervix. This may lead to genital warts or cervical cancer. Genital warts are treatable and can often be removed with VidaroX cream. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of death in women. But it’s also treatable if diagnosed and treated promptly. Here is how to tell if you have one of these HPV infections.

Genital warts

Genital warts result from low-risk HPV types 6 and 11. They are bumps or growths in the genital areas and almost never lead to cancer. Genital warts can be small, pink, brown or flesh-colored. They can be raised or flat and look like cauliflowers. Also, they can grow singly or in clusters.

In women, genital warts usually show up on the vulva, vagina, cervix, and anus. Some patients may experience pain, itching or bleeding down there. Others may have discharge with unpleasant fishy smell.

Without treatment, genital warts can go away on their own. But sometimes, they can stay the same or increase in size or number.

Read more: 6 Skin Conditions That Can Be Mistaken for Genital Warts

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is caused by high-risk HPV types 16 and 18. In most cases, cervical cancer has no symptoms. But there are some warning signs every woman needs to look out for. For instance:

  • Increased vaginal discharge. HPV discharge can appear pale, watery, pink, brown, or bloody. Also, it can come with a foul odor.
  • Heavy, or prolonged menstrual periods.
  • Bleeding between periods.
  • Bleeding after menopause.
  • Bleeding after sex, douching, or a pelvic exam.
  • Painful intercourse.
  • Pelvic pain.

Cervical cancer and discharge

HPV can also be linked to anal cancer and other types of cancer. If you have HPV, you should:

  • Get regular Pap tests
  • Follow the treatment plan
  • Tell your partner you have the virus

To avoid spreading HPV:

  • Get the HPV vaccine
  • Practice abstinence
  • Have safer sex
  • Use condoms

Read more: Daily Stress May Increase Your Risk of Cervical Cancer

Other Infections That Can Cause Abnormal Discharge in Females  

HPV causes abnormal discharge but most of the time, it is not fatal. If you have discharge that looks unusual or smells bad, it might be a sign of an infection. For instance:

Thrush or yeast infection

This condition is caused by a yeast or fungus candida. Symptoms include itching and discomfort in the vagina, pain or burning during sex or urination. Women with yeast infections also experience thick, white, cottage cheese like discharge. Usually, the discharge doesn’t have a smell.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Too much of certain bacteria in the vagina can contribute to BV. This is a common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge. Usually, BV does not cause soreness or itching. But it has a strong fishy smell that looks whitish, greenish or gray in color. Add probiotics can help fight the infection.


If you notice green, yellow or frothy discharge, trichomoniasis can be the culprit. This is an STD caused by a parasite. Symptoms include soreness, pain, itching, swelling in the vagina. Women with trichomoniasis may also experience pain during sex or urination.

Read more: 7 Top Facts about Yeast Infections, and How to Cure Them

Bacterial Vaginosis and Discharge

If you experience an increase in vaginal discharge with or without odor, speak to your doctor. HPV and some vaginal infections can be a common cause.

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