Monday, 9 January 2012

Menopause, changes in the vagina and false allegations of cheating

I’m writing this post as a public service and hope thereby to prevent pointless break-ups in relationships due to false allegations of cheating.

What would you do if you suddenly had a malodorous yellow discharge? You know you’ve not been cheating, so that horrid DISEASE must come from HIM. You’d rush out and confront him – possibly even tell him to take his cheating ways and go! BIG MISTAKE!

One of my male friends was confronted by his girlfriend over his alleged cheating. He walked immediately and did not take her back after the doctor proved no STD (sexually transmitted disease) was involved. He felt trust between them was broken irrevocably.

One of my female friends broke up her 10 year relationship because she simply was not going to stand being cheated on! I met her boyfriend – he was tall, handsome and quite fragile emotionally. Poor them!  The relationship never recovered.    

I cannot blame the ladies in question since nobody talks about changes in the vagina and its mucus and it’s very hard to find information on menopausal changes when you use key words like “vagina” + “yellow mucus”.  The content addresses STDs and imbalances in the microflora of pre menopausal women. Key words including “menopause” will be more likely to gain information of use to menopausal and post menopausal women, as will “cervical atrophy” and “vaginal atrophy.” However, the message seems less clear than in the case of younger women.

Note: Cervical or vaginal atrophy is the broader medical condition causing malodorous yellow discharge and changes in mucus are usually the first sign of this. It occurs in distressing degree in 40% of women, so it’s better to run to the doctor at the first sign of mucus change.  

Here’s the potted explanation for the yucky, smelly yellow discharge that can occur in menopausal women:  

Lower levels of oestrogen lead to changes in the vagina. Less glycogen is released from the walls of the vagina and thus lactic acid producing bacteria are less likely to grow. Since the bacteria are not there to release lactic acid, the pH of the vagina increases. Consequently, the vagina is not protected against the growth of many other types of bacteria. Additionally, the cervix produces mucus with different characteristics and perhaps a different colour – possibly yellow (but with no bad smell).  

My mucus turned yellow about 14 months before my ovaries shut down. After about 6-8 months, I started to notice smells and differences in consistency. One week it was smelly feet smell, the next sweaty penis and some other smells that were bad and not similar to anything I knew. I spent a lot of time online researching and thinking on where the infections could be coming from – I was sure it was not an STD because I could trust Awesome, but I was terrified it could be.   

Note: If you suspect you have an STD, stop having sex and immediately see your doctor for tests. The tests are free in Australia with a Medicare card and they are as easy as self-swabbing, peeing in a bottle and a blood test.     

When I mentioned my concerns to Awesome – he was on guard. He asked if I was worried about him (cheating) – I said no, just worried he might catch something from me. He is a logical fellow – he knew it was not an STD, so he remained supportive.

My doctor was very helpful – he gave me a kit to swab the inside of my vagina (at the top near the cervix). That test revealed “normal” vaginal microflora. After questioning me about my last period etc (which was over 2 years previously) and about other changes he concluded I had cervical atrophy due to oestrogen decline and prescribed an oestrogen cream.   

I used the cream as prescribed and also used yogurt to re-establish a good crop of lactic acid producing bacteria. My vulva and vagina are back to some semblance of normality and there is no yellow malodorous mucus!!

The lessons:
  • If you suspect you have a sexually transmitted disease – or indeed any disease of the private parts, talk to your doctor before jumping to conclusions.
  • If you are in menopause and you experience changes in your vaginal mucus, talk to your doctor – there are simple tests and easy, cheap solutions.  
Hibiscus, Brisbane 2011


  1. Giving your man respect and appreciation is the best antidote for divorce. Men need respect even more than they need sex.
    John Wilder

  2. Too true! Very good advice. I read your post on the importance of respect and liked it very much. Thanks for commenting! :-) C

  3. Following on from John's advice:

    Another lesson:
    Always, always, show respect!

    :-) C

  4. thanks, im going through this right now.... i needed this information..

  5. Glad I could help. I will write a new article on changes and remedies since this time. For a while things went great, now I'm struggling with new vaginal issues and have some new wisdom. I'd suggest if your private parts work, you enjoy them while you can! :-) C

  6. I am almost 50 and have been peri-menopausal for a couple of years now. My periods are hit and miss and I have a constant yellow vaginal discharge which, apart from being a bit inconvenient, causes me no other problems. This is the first time I've seen any mention of it being related to the menopause. Most medical sites focus on it being a sign of an STD or other vaginal problems. I know for sure its not an STD and have never suspected cheating but I was worried it could be some other kind of infection but had no idea how I might have picked it up. Your post suggests it's just natural due to hormonal changes and has put my mind at rest.
    Thanks again.

  7. Hello - I am glad to be of help! This was the reason to share. I suffered oh so much from this pesky issue, especially since it was accompanied by a bad smell. You should be aware that you may be more susceptible to infection as the pH in your vagina will change. I found probiotics such as yogurt useful. The yellow discharge arises from cervical atrophy and is cervical mucus. It is fixed by topical oestrogen cream available on prescription. However, I've found it only occurs irregularly now as I travel on into post menopause. Best of luck! C :-)

  8. Hello Candice. I am experiencing this horrid, malodorous mucus as a result of going through Menopause I feel. I'm going to get it checked out tomorrow, as the smell bothers me, and I hope it isn't apparent to others. Your blog and website have really reassured me. Thank you. Jessica. Somewhere in England...

  9. Hello Jessica - I am glad that I have been of some help. I always feel an experience is not wasted if it can be leveraged to help someone else.

    Doctors can provide an easy test and the estrogen cream really helps. However, the cream can eventually cause irritation and then more bacteria move in to occupy the irritated skin.

    I feel the yellow mucus is the cervix calling out for help and of course one does not want the wrong bacteria multiplying on one's body! Hence, I feel a very active management program is important.

    However, it may take some time for you to get this under control - you need to learn what to do and any inflammation in the vagina takes time to settle down.

    I now rinse the outside with warn salty water acidified with vinegar after each shower, use coconut oil and vitamin E to moisturise (the outside) and apply yoghurt every now and again. All these things tend to diminish the growth of unwelcome microbes and also promote healing. I also insist on my partner being very clean and take care that my underwear is very clean and germ free.

    After more than a year I feel I have the problem mainly under control.

    Good luck with this - if you have any learnings, please feel free to drop a note onto my blog.

    Thanks :-) C

  10. Hi ! I am in my perimenopause stage, i am experiencing this.Before and after my period there is spotting.After this spotting i am experiencing ovulation w/ light yellow color sometimes it smells like sweaty penis,sometimes smells of blood,then smells like egg.It does not small sour as it used too.I have a bf but then this happened before i met my bf.I noticed that when we have sex regularly the discharge don't smell that bad.I wonder why? Thank you for your article about this matter

    1. Thank you for your comment. I expect sex must somehow balance your micro flora. Lucky you! šŸ˜Š

  11. HI , I'm in perimenopause stage and the color of my vagina changes , sometimes getting real red, I also have white discharge, but not all the time, my boyfriend accuses me of cheating on him, which I have never done. I'm sitting at my desk for almost 8 hours, however my OBGYN thought the change in color could not come from that. Has anybody else gone through something similar?

  12. I've have the same issue of redness. It's taken me ages to work it all out and the solution. Obviously your issue is not a major infection because your doctor would have tested and found that. So assuming that your tissues are now more delicate and less protected by natural secretions I suggest it might be caused by 1. Abrasion from sex with him 2. Irritation from almost anything such as soap, shampoo, laundry detergent etc. 3. A mild infection of everyday microbes, possibly from him. You need to keep an eye on the situation and work out how to keep things in top working condition.

    As for the insulting accusation - men can be clueless so don't become offended immediately. You need to calmly stand your ground and explain that this kind of thing happens due to hormonal changes. Take him to the doctor if necessary. Tell him just how hurtful his thoughtless accusation was and hope for an apology.

    ...and yes - I've had to deal with such hurtful accusations as well. We all need to be very careful not to jump to such harmful conclusions.

  13. Ladies I too suffered with redness, lacerations, discharge due to the change. I found using Probiotic with 10 billion cultures in it has been very helpful. Our vaginal lacks them during this change.

    Keep yourself clean all the time; the discharge is causing the irritation, use femini wipes as soon as you feel a little discomfort. Carry them in your purse.

    Also lots of lubricant, DON'T USE anything containing glycerine or you will burn. The Thrive Market carries a natural lubricant containing all.

    Were going through a Huge hormonal change. I am using essential oils and boy what a difference.

    As for you men, they are clueless and need to be educated. I hope him going to the Dr. With you, as suggested helps. also ask him to read about the symptoms and outcomes of a menopausal women. May be he will get it.

    If you're interested in the essential oils I'm using please As.

    Good luck!

    1. Corrections: the lubricant has Alo Vera in it. If your interested in essential oils, just ask.

  14. Thanks to all, you ladies. I just took a stab at Googling this discharge and really appreciate you all for sharing. Thank you all.

  15. Thanks to all, you ladies. I just took a stab at Googling this discharge and really appreciate you all for sharing. Thank you all.

  16. This is Candice -

    Thank you Ladies for contributing to this post! :-)

    I support etandme's suggestion for education of men about menopause. Not only do they need to avoid making hurtful and clueless accusations, but they may need to change their love making style to be more gentle.

    I wish you all the best outcomes!

    xxx C

  17. My boyfriend still accuses me of cheating on him. He says the color of my vagina some days changes and it looks darker after I come home from work. I sit on a desk for most of the time. He says my vagina looks mangled on some days and thinks only having sex could cause this. I have never cheated and cannot explain this change of color. I'm sitting a lot and wear nylon panty hose. The obgyn said sitting wouldn't cause a change in color. I have no infection, but I'm premenopausal. This is causing a lot of friction in our relationship. The color is normal when I leave but some days darker and mangled when I get home

  18. ive gone through my menopause over 5 years ago, but the last two years, my vaginal odour has changed. Ive searched and searched for a solution, i had a test at the doctors as it changed to yellow in colour and sometimes smells like sweaty feet. My test came back with no infection etc, i knew it was nothing to do with my partner.

    i'm so glad that i came across this page as i will follow some of the tips. I have just started using vaginal hormone pessaries it does help with dryness but hasnt got rid of the smell. So glad i am not alone as my friends dont suffer like this

  19. I've been searching for answers and I suppose maybe I found some. About 6 months ago I was having a lot of yellowish greenish mucus on a daily basis. I didn't notice any strange odors, but it was concerning. Every time I used the bathroom there would be a long string of snot-like mucous hanging out of me, tinged slightly yellow/green. This went on for several weeks and after lots of google searches found a product called RepHresh (its a suppository that helps balance your vaginal pH.) I also took lots of probiotics (lactobaccillii). About a week ago the mucus was back. I started my searches over again, and am so frustrated that the color and texture of the discharge points to an STD. I have been married for 21 years and I fully trust my husband. Also, I do not have any itching or odor, just the mucus. I checked my vaginal pH a few days ago and it was very high. I thought maybe I had BV (although the symptoms don't really match....but the elevated pH made me think is was).

    I am only 42 and should not be in perimenopause yet, but it has been almost 3 months since my last period. And my last 2 periods were super close together (like I only had a week off between them) which is VERY unusual for me. I am typically very consistant. I don't think I have any other syptoms of menopause like hot flashes, etc. Although I have been dealing with severe dry eyes...

    Could my issues be related to perimenopause? Could my estrogen be low causing my vag pH to be high? I think a high pH makes you more suseptible to infections and yeast, correct?

    I was getting ready to try boric acid suppositories, but I don't know that is the right direction. I was reading that extra virgin coconut oil suppositories can be helpful. Have you heard of this? Could this help or will I always have issues until the estrogen level is dealt with?

    Lastly, I thought menopause caused progesterone production to slow down which caused estrogen dominance. Am I way off base? I may be getting all my research mixed up. I have been all over the place.

    Thanks in advance for any insight.