What does bad smelling lump mean?

Discharge, more morbid

Diseased discharge(pathological genital fluorine): Increased, mostly bloodless discharge of secretion from the vagina. This is not a disease in itself, but a symptom that has many causes. About 25% of all women will suffer from abnormal discharge at some point in their life. Once the cause has been found and the right treatment initiated, the discharge will in most cases go away after a short time.

Leading complaints

  • Increased discharge, possibly unpleasant ("fishy" or putrid) smelling or discolored
  • Itching in the vagina.

When to the doctor

In the next few weeks at

  • increased, but normal smelling and not discolored discharge.

The next day if

  • the discharge smells unpleasant or is bloody.

The illness

Discharge is normal as long as it is colorless, odorless and has a glassy and slimy texture. Shortly before ovulation, it becomes thinner for a few days. Discolored, fishy smelling or dry, crumbly discharge is always a sign of illness.


The causes are infections in younger and sexually active women and inflammation in older women, e.g. B. by vaginal dryness and tumors.

Discharge from the vagina (vaginal discharge):

  • Infections caused by fungi (Candida), bacteria (such as chlamydia), viruses, or protozoa (such as trichomonads)
  • Mechanical irritation from foreign bodies in the vagina such as a forgotten or too late changed tampon or pessary in adult women and foreign bodies such as marbles or buttons in girls
  • Chemical irritation from vaginal douching with soap solutions or disinfecting substances
  • Spotting when there are changes in hormone levels for various reasons
  • Dehydration and irritation of the vagina from lack of estrogen in women during or after the menopause
  • Increased production of estrogen and progestin, for example during pregnancy
  • Contraceptives such as an IUD or foam suppository
  • Chronic stress.

Discharge from the cervix (cervical discharge):

  • Infections (gonococci, chlamydia)
  • Functional hormonal or psychological causes such as ovulation or increased secretion of glandular secretions (hypersecretion)
  • Organic changes in the cervix caused by tumors, polyps or a ruptured uterus.

Discharge from the body of the uterus (corporal discharge):

  • Tumor (myoma, carcinoma)
  • Inflammation of the uterus (pyometra)
  • Tissue remnants after miscarriage
  • Polyps
  • Endometritis.

Discharge from the fallopian tubes (tubular discharge, very rare):

  • Adnexitis
  • Fallopian tube cancer (large amounts of thin discharge).

Discharge from the vaginal vestibule (vestibular discharge):

With increasing sexual arousal, the vaginal wall is supplied with more blood and secretes larger amounts of a watery mucus which, as a lubricant, facilitates coitus (not pathological).

Risk factors

Women with a weakened immune system, diabetes mellitus and pregnant women are particularly at risk. Likewise, the risk of a vaginal infection with discharge is greater with antibiotics and repeated cortisone treatment.

Diagnostic assurance

The anamnesis usually already gives clues to the cause of the discharge: amount, consistency, smell and color, itching (possibly also in the partner), menstrual cycle, taking medication (especially antibiotics, hormones), use of tampons, lubricants, sex toys such as Vibrators or love balls, but also use of intimate sprays.

Important information about the cause is the appearance and smell of the discharge. If an infection is suspected, the doctor takes a swab of the vaginal secretions; often a brief inspection of the material under the microscope provides initial clues about the pathogen. To rule out a tumor, the doctor will take a smear from the cervix (cervical smear) and possibly perform a vaginal specimen. A vaginal ultrasound follows.


Treatment for the abnormal discharge will depend on the underlying disease. Infections are treated with antimycotics (against fungi) or antibiotics (against bacteria). Symptoms caused by a hormone deficiency after the menopause can be alleviated with an ointment containing estrogen (e.g. Linoladiol®, OeKolp®).

Your pharmacy recommends

What you can do yourself

Self-help measures should not be used instead of treatment with antimycotics or antibiotics, but as a supplement.

  • Intimate hygiene: Water is enough to clean the external intimate area. Aggressive soaps, intimate sprays or vaginal douches should be avoided.
  • Lactic acid treatment with special lactic acid suppositories or with tampons with yoghurt. This brings the vaginal flora back into balance.
  • When there is a lack of estrogen during menopause, estrogen-containing creams are helpful.
  • If you have frequent discharge, you should generally avoid the use of tampons.
  • Underwear made of cotton instead of those made of synthetic fibers, as otherwise the exchange of air is impeded and the growth of bacteria and fungi in the external genital area is favored.


Dr. med. Astrid Waskowiak, Dr. med. Arne Schäffler in: Gesundheit heute, edited by Dr. med. Arne Schäffler. Trias, Stuttgart, 3rd edition (2014). Revision and update of the sections “The disease”, “Confirmation of diagnosis” and “Your pharmacy recommends”: Dagmar Fernholz | last changed on at 10:05

Important note: This article has been written according to scientific standards and has been checked by medical professionals. The information communicated in this article can in no way replace professional advice in your pharmacy. The content cannot and must not be used to make independent diagnoses or to start therapy.