Post-menopause, normal vaginal discharge generally declines because of the lower levels of estrogen. According to Dr. Jelovsek, M.D., it is rather uncommon for a woman to have a chronic yeast infection after menopause. However, it can happen. If a woman is taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), Jelovsek notes that the dosage might be too low if she is experiencing vaginal discharge. However, keep in mind that taking synthetic estrogen has been associated with increased risks of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease so take this into consideration before taking HRT and certainly before increasing your dosage.
If a woman develops diabetes, which sometimes happens during menopause, this can result in a condition called yeast vulvovaginitis, which is common after menopause.
A small amount of vaginal discharge is normal for all women. Estrogen prompts the production of mucous secretions that are produced by the cervix and then seep through the vaginal walls. Discharge is generally thin and clear or milky white. It is odorless and doesn’t cause burning or irritation. However, since estrogen dips drastically during menopause, the amount of discharge, as noted earlier, should be less than it was before menopause.
If your discharge is foul-smelling, or has a fishy odor, it is considered abnormal. If your discharge appears pus-like, or clumpy and white like cottage cheese, this is also abnormal. If discharge is thicker or heavier than normal or blood-tinged, yellowish, greenish or grayish in color this is cause for concern. Vaginal discharge can be a sign that there is inflammation of the vagina (vaginitis). This can be the result of irritation caused by a chemical or an infection. According to Merck.com, the vagina becomes drier and thinner after menopause, which increases the chance of inflammation, which can result in discharge.
Bacterial vaginosis can cause the fishy odor and a yellowish-, white- or gray-colored discharge. If discharge looks like cottage cheese, this is probably the result of a yeast infection called candidiasis. If a woman has a frothy discharge that is greenish-yellow and heavy this may be caused by a protozoan infection called trichomoniasis. The yellow or green discharge can also be the result of Chlamydia or gonorrhea. If your discharge is tinged with blood, this may be a sign of cervical, vaginal or endometrial cancer. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a yellow discharge is treated with prescription drugs; the cottage cheese variety is treated either via pills or prescribed vaginal creams. The fishy smelling infection is also treated by vaginal cream or oral medication.
Treating your discharge will depend on what is causing it. To diagnose your condition, your physician will look at a sample of the discharge under a microscope. Don’t douche or use feminine sprays because that will aggravate the condition. If you realize that the condoms your partner is using cause irritation, change brands. Certain soaps, powders and creams can be irritants.