Behind the PID Discharge Symptoms: What it Indicates

Dinesh Patel
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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Pid discharge

Normal vaginal discharge, typically clear or milky white, is common among women. But what happens when this discharge isn’t normal?

Should you be concerned about an unusual color, consistency, or odor? The answer is, most likely, yes. 

Changes in vaginal discharge can indicate an infection, like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.

PID is a prevalent infection of the female reproductive organs, and one of the hallmark symptoms of PID is abnormal vaginal discharge. 

This article will explore PID discharge, its symptoms, and what it looks like. 

Symptoms of PID discharge

The discharge associated with PID often differs from normal vaginal discharge in several ways. 

Women with PID may experience:

  • Abnormal consistency: Discharge associated with PID may be like mucus or pus 
  • Unpleasant odor: PID discharge often has a foul or fishy smell
  • Increased volume: Women with PID may notice an increase in the amount of vaginal discharge compared to what is normal for them
  • Accompanied by other symptoms: PID discharge is typically accompanied by other symptoms like pelvic pain, irregular bleeding, or painful urination

Brown discharge in PID

If left untreated, PID can lead to many complications, such as ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus, typically in one of the fallopian tubes.

PID is one of the major causes of ectopic pregnancy, and one of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy is a brown, watery discharge. 

Ectopic pregnancy happens 6 or 10 times more in PID. So, if you notice any symptoms of PID, like pelvis pain, pain while urinating, heavy periods, or abnormal discharge, seek prompt medical treatment to avoid any complications.  

So, if you experience additional symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, dizziness, or shoulder pain along with brown watery discharge, it may indicate an ectopic pregnancy. 

Getting medical treatment as soon as possible is important if you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms. 

Diagnosing PID through vaginal discharge

Diagnosing PID through vaginal dischargeSource: Konstantin_Postumitenko_from_Prostock-studio
woman suffering from Pid discharge

Vaginal discharge can serve as a diagnostic indicator for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) through several key observations:

Appearance of cervical discharge

Most women with PID exhibit abnormal cervical discharge, often described as mucopurulent, meaning containing both mucus and pus. 

This distinctive discharge is a common symptom of PID.  

Microscopic evaluation

Examination of the discharge under a microscope, specifically through a wet prep of vaginal fluid, can reveal the presence of white blood cells. 

Elevated levels of WBCs in the vaginal fluid indicate an inflammatory response, which is characteristic of PID.

Only 60% of PID shows elevated white blood cells, which makes this method less reliable for diagnosing PID.

Detection of coexisting infections

Additionally, a wet prep of vaginal fluid can identify other infections, such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) and Trichomoniasis

These infections may coexist with PID or mimic its symptoms, highlighting the importance of comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.

PID discharge after treatment

Various antibiotics in packetsSource: Denisfilm_From_Getty_Images
Various antibiotics in packets

Treatment for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease commonly involves a regimen of antibiotics. 

To completely clear the infection, it is important to do the full course of antibiotics—2 weeks. 

While undergoing the treatment, people may encounter side effects like nausea, diarrhea, or a vaginal yeast infection.

Vaginal yeast infection can be determined if your vaginal discharge tends to become thick, white, and clumpy and exhibits a slight change in smell compared to normal discharge. 

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Besides a side effect of antibiotics, there are other causes of yeast infection. To know what can cause this infection, read Exploring the Possibility: Can Semen Cause Yeast Infections?

Additionally, individuals experiencing this infection may notice a creamy, whitish coating in and around the vaginal area.

If you experince these side effects, contact your medical professional, and do not stop taking the antibiotics without talking to them.

PID discharge color

Depending on the severity and any accompanying infections or complications, PID discharge can vary in color. 

  • Yellow or greenish: The discharge may have a yellow or green tint, indicating the presence of infection and possibly pus
  • Brownish: In cases where PID leads to complications like ectopic pregnancy, the discharge may appear brownish, particularly if there is bleeding
  • Creamy or whitish: Antibiotic treatment of PID can cause side effects like yeast infection, which can cause cottage cheese-like discharge and is usually white


PID, a common infection affecting the female reproductive system, often presents with abnormal discharge as a primary symptom.

PID discharge has an abnormal consistency, like mucus and pus, and an unpleasant or fishy odor with a yellow or greenish color. 

Additionally, PID can cause complications such as ectopic pregnancy, resulting in brown watery discharge. 

Diagnosis of PID often involves examining cervical discharge for characteristic mucopurulent appearance and elevated white blood cell levels.

Treatment consists of a course of antibiotics. However, it’s essential to be mindful of potential side effects, such as vaginal yeast infections. 

This infection can cause a creamy, clumpy discharge.

Awareness of changes in vaginal discharge, seeking timely medical evaluation, and adhering to prescribed treatments are essential steps in managing PID discharge. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does PID discharge look like?

PID discharge can vary in appearance, often exhibiting an abnormal consistency. It may appear thicker than normal vaginal discharge and can resemble mucus or pus. Additionally, PID discharge normally is yellow or greenish. But in complications like ectopic pregnancy, the discharge comes as brownish. 

What does PID discharge smell like?

PID discharge typically has a distinct odor, often foul or fishy. This odor can be quite noticeable after sexual intercourse or during menstruation. The presence of this unpleasant odor, along with other symptoms, can help healthcare providers differentiate PID discharge. 

Can vaginal discharge help in diagnosing PID?

Yes, vaginal discharge can play a role in diagnosing PID. Microscopic evaluation of discharge for white blood cells is one of the methods to diagnose PID. If the white blood cells are elevated, it may indicate an infection in the reproductive tract, a common PID symptom. 

How is PID treated?

PID is usually treated with a course of antibiotics. The specific antibiotics prescribed may vary depending on the severity of the infection and any coexisting conditions. People must complete the course of antibiotics as their healthcare provider prescribes, even if symptoms improve before the medication is finished. 

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