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Is vaginal discharge normal after a hysterectomy?

Dr. Hugo D. Ribot, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Depending on a patient's age, it can be normal to have some vaginal discharge even after a hysterectomy. With normal or physiologic discharge, it should be odorless, white to very slightly off-white, and asymptomatic.

It is important to understand that different patients produce different amounts of vaginal secretions. To a significant degree, in patients who still have their uterus and cervix, the cervix produces a significant quantity of mucus that can vary depending on what time of the month it is, whether the patient is pregnant, and other factors.

As a general rule, the overall amount of vaginal secretions tends to be less after hysterectomy than before, since the cervix is most often removed at the time of surgery. 

A patient can still develop a vaginal infection after hysterectomy, such as candida (yeast), bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis. These often result in an increased amount of vaginal discharge. This should be evaluated by the patient's health care provider, especially if there is itching, odor, or any irritation. One should also never use a vaginal douche, as this can cause a change in the chemical and microbiologic balance of the vagina, leading to infection and/or irritation.

A special consideration should be mentioned regarding the 4-6 weeks immediately following a hysterectomy, especially when the cervix has been removed. In this case, there will be a certain number of sutures (stitches) at the uppermost part of the vaginal canal which take a while to dissolve. Until they have completely dissolved, they may cause some additional slightly yellowish discharge. This should not be associated with irritative symptoms and will resolve on its own with time alone.

Women may have discharge and spotting up to six weeks after a hysterectomy. Discharge or bleeding after six weeks may be the sign of an infection.

Minimal vaginal discharge is normal after a hysterectomy. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.