A gynaecologist’s guide to abnormal vaginal discharge


It’s time to talk gynea stuff, and for the next installment of our new gynea series we discuss vaginal discharge – what is normal and what is not so normal

Call them what you will – ‘women’s issues’, ‘intimate health problems’, ‘gynae things’, whatever, all women will experience at least one or two intimate conditions at some stage in their life.

Here is what is helpful to know about some of the most common intimate issues, today we discuss what is and isn’t normal about vaginal discharge.

Discharge – what’s normal, what’s not?

It might not be the stuff of dinner party conversations but vaginal discharge is generally a healthy and entirely normal bodily fluid.

What exactly is it? Fluid made by glands in the cervix, vaginal opening and vaginal walls that carries away dead cells and bacteria to keep the vagina clean and healthy.

This discharge can be affected by stress, taking the contraceptive pill, your menstrual cycle and can change in colour or smell.

vaginal discharge is generally a healthy and entirely normal bodily fluid

A white vaginal discharge is usually normal unless it is thick and cottage-cheese like and you are also experiencing itching. This is usually sign of a yeast infection.

A clear and watery vaginal discharge is unlikely to be cause for concern and if it is clear and stretchy this is normally a sign you are ovulating.

Brown or bloody vaginal discharge can occur at the end of your period but in rare cases it can be a sign of endometrial or cervical cancer.

A yellowy or green vaginal discharge that also smells unpleasant is not normal and could be a sign of trichomoniasis (generally sexually transmitted).

What can help:

You can’t prevent discharge but you can be aware of what is normal or not for you.

Using panty liners might help if it is particularly heavy or excessive but avoid using them too often as they can cause more irritation.

Read More: A gynaecologist’s guide to an irritated vulva

If you are concerned about your discharge do see your GP who will ask about your menstrual cycle, sexual activity and then might do a pelvic examination.

At home, avoid so-called ‘feminine hygiene’ wipes and similar products as they can exacerbate discharge by removing helpful bacteria. Wear breathable natural fibre underwear and practice safe sex.

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