A gynecologist gives some reasons why a postmenopausal woman might suddenly start seeing white-yellow vaginal discharge.
The seemingly unexplained appearance of a white-yellow vaginal discharge in a postmenopausal women may be due to:
“The use of products that may be irritants or result in allergic reactions (e.g., perfumes, douches, feminine washes or wipes, powders, panty liners or incontinence pads, soaps, deodorants, spermicides, lubricants, tight clothing) or a history of pelvic radiation, all of which can cause a vaginal discharge,” says Alyssa Dweck, MD, a full-time practicing OB/GYN at the Mount Kisco Medical Group in Westchester County, NY, and co-author of the book, V is for Vagina.
But what if there’s been no change in body products and no history of pelvic radiation?
Dr. Dweck explains, “With these caveats the only discharge that comes to mind is altered vaginal pH — and drainage as a result of that; a fistula, an abnormal connection from the bladder or rectum to the vagina which can cause drainage.
“In fact, I truly think vaginal atrophy due to menopause and lack of estrogen is the main cause.”
After menopause the vagina can shrink and become less elastic and dry. However, despite the dryness, a yellow-white discharge can indeed be a symptom of this atrophic vaginitis.
“A pertinent sexual history should be taken to evaluate whether the symptoms are associated with sexual activity,” says Dr. Dweck.
“Antihistamines can cause dryness even in the genitals, so discontinuation may cause increased secretions. Elicit a full medication history.”
Dr. Dweck practices general gynecology and is proficient in laparoscopic and robotic gynecologic surgery. Her special interests are female sexual health and dysfunction.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.