Have you read somewhere that stress can directly cause vaginal discharge?

“There’s no direct mechanism for stress and vaginal discharge; however, chronic stress can cause hormone imbalances which can lead to abnormal discharge,” says Mylaine Riobe, MD, founder of Riobe Institute of Integrative Medicine.

Dr. Riobe, who’s board certified in ob/gyn and integrative medicine, is the author of “The Answer to Cancer.”

Despite no direct mechanism, stress sets the ball in motion that often leads to changes or increases in vaginal discharge.

“Chronic stress can also cause immune system weakness which can lead to infection, especially with unprotected intercourse,” says Dr. Riobe.

A compromised immune system can pave the path to issues with vaginal discharge.

“In traditional Chinese medicine, there is a mechanism for non-infectious vaginal discharge called damp and also spleen qi (pronounced chee) deficiency.

“Damp is excess fluids in the body, or inflammation. Spleen qi is responsible for management of fluids in the body, and when it’s weak, vaginal discharge can result.

“These causes of vaginal discharge are most closely linked with digestive problems.”

Does stress affect vaginal discharge differently for younger vs. older women?

“Stress-induced infectious vaginal discharge can occur at any age, and risk is increased with unprotected intercourse,” says Dr. Riobe.

“Stress hormones cause suppression of the immune system. The weakened immune system increases the possibility of infection.”

Stress’s Effect on the Immune System

Why does stress compromise immune function?

If you have to fight danger or escape from danger, which body systems do you need?

• Musculoskeletal
• Neuronal
• Cardiovascular
• Respiratory

Chronic stress triggers the same biochemical changes that acute (sudden) stress does.

Shutterstock/Cory Thoman

The body cannot tell the difference between the acute dangers our ancient ancestors faced in the wild, and the ongoing pressure-cooker lives that people face in industrialized societies (e.g., workplace issues, traffic jams, mounting bills, worrying about kids doing drugs).

Chronic stress puts the body in a never-ending state of “fight or flight.”


The body is always in a preparatory state for that fight or escape from the perceived threat.

You don’t need your immune system to fight or escape from a threat.

The immune system becomes dismantled while more relevant systems gear up for the fight or flight (fast resting heart rate, high blood pressure, accelerated breathing, nervous twitches).

An actual physical fight never comes, of course, so the body remains on perpetual standby – meaning, a perpetually compromised immune system – leading to digestive troubles and creating the perfect storm for vaginal infection leading to more discharge.

“Stress hormones also suppress the ovarian function leading to reduced ovarian hormone levels which can also cause discharge,” says Dr. Riobe.

Again…do you need your ovaries to fight or flee from danger?

“Another possible mechanism is nutrient deficits which are needed by the liver to remove inflammation from the body.

“If the liver is missing key nutrients to perform its function, toxic inflammation will remain in the body causing discharge as well as other problems related to inflammation.”

Dr. Riobe has helped thousands of patients overcome difficult illnesses by addressing root causes, not just masking symptoms. She has over 15 years’ experience using integrative techniques to treat diverse patients.
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. 


Top image: Shutterstock/Prostock-studio