It’s a topic most ladies are reluctant to talk about- but so important to know! Let’s get you clued up girls!
It is normal for the vagina to produce a discharge – it actually plays an important role in keeping things clean and healthy! Glands inside the vagina produce fluid which helps to get rid of dead cells and bacteria. This discharge varies in colour, texture and smell depending on where in your menstrual cycle you are. A normal discharge may be thick and sticky or thin and watery, usually has a mild odour and is clear to milky looking. If you pay attention you will be able to get to know what is normal for you at the different times in your cycle.
Now that you know what’s normal, when should you worry? If your discharge has changed significantly from its normal colour or smell, or if you are experiencing itching, burning or pain you will need to see your doctor.
There can be many reasons behind an unusual discharge:
- Antibiotic use- this disrupts the delicate balance in the vagina and can give you Thrush (a fungal infection)
- Bacterial Vaginosis- a bacterial infection common in pregnancy when your immune system is low
- Diabetes-high blood sugar can put you at risk of bacterial or fungal infections
- Hormonal contraceptives like the pill or injection
- Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea
- Cervical cancer
- Using douches, scented soaps
Some conditions have a telling set of symptoms:
- A thick, white and cheesy discharge with itching and burning when you wee – Thrush
- A green, very smelly and frothy discharge-Trichomoniasis (an STD)
- A bloody / brown discharge- hormonal imbalance with irregular periods, or rarely something more serious such as cancer of the cervix
- Yellow, cloudy- Gonorrhoea
- Grey and fishy- Bacterial Vaginosis
Keeping your vagina healthy is easy- always use a condom to prevent STD’s, wash regularly with mild soap and water (NO douches etc unless prescribed by your doctor), use a probiotic if using antibiotics or steroids and always wipe front to back after going to the bathroom to prevent transferring bacteria.