Typical vaginal discharge is clear or white and has no odor, so when it changes color, consistency or amount, there might be an issue. For instance, greenish vaginal discharge can indicate the sexually transmitted disease (STD human papillomavirus (HPV), which also results in warts in the vaginal area. Another STD that may cause green vaginal discharge is trichomoniasis, in which the discharge is thin and foamy in addition to being green or yellow. Lichen sclerosis is a skin disorder that often results in pain during urination, itchy skin and green vaginal discharge. In some cases, bacterial vaginosis also results in abnormal discharge that is green, yellow or gray, along with a foul odor and vaginal itching.
The main symptom of HPV in women is the presence of warts near the vagina or anus, though many patients never notice any symptoms. Green vaginal discharge is another possible symptom of HPV, which usually is caused by cervical dysplasia, in which precancerous cells grow along the cervix and may eventually lead to cervical cancer. While HPV is not curable, patients are advised to a see a doctor to remove the precancerous cells so they can avoid cervical cancer.
Another STD often resulting in green vaginal discharge is trichomoniasis, in which a parasite causes vaginal itching, abnormal discharge and painful sexual intercourse. Many women notice their discharge is green, foamy and foul smelling, indicating an infection. It can be treated with antibiotics but, if medication is not started soon enough, pelvic inflammatory disease and even infertility may result. Thus, women who notice green vaginal discharge are encouraged to see a doctor right away.
Lichen sclerosis may also lead to abnormal discharge, though the majority of the symptoms involve skin irritation. For example, the skin on the vulva often becomes thin and crinkled and tends to itch and, eventually, shrink. It may hurt to urinate or have intercourse. The treatment usually involves topical steroids that can clear up the condition and relieve symptoms, allowing the vaginal discharge and the skin to return to normal over time.
Bacterial vaginosis may result in vaginal discharge that is yellow, gray or green. Most women with this condition also notice itching, a foul smell and burning during urination. Antibiotics can usually get rid of the infection, returning the discharge to a normal white or clear color. The condition is most likely to occur in women who smoke, have multiple sexual partners or have used antibiotics recently, because bacterial vaginosis is caused by the overgrowth of certain bacteria. There are few complications resulting from this condition, though it can lead to pre-term birth or infection in pregnant women when left untreated.