How to tell if something’s wrong.
If you’ve ever wondered ‘should my discharge look or smell like that?’ you’re not alone.
Most of the time vaginal discharge is natural and helps to keep your vagina clean and healthy. The amount and texture of the mucousy liquid will fluctuate across your cycle.
Healthy discharge can:
- Be clear or white in colour (imagine the color and texture of an egg white)
- Have a slight odour (subtle, nothing too strong)
- Leave a white or yellowish mark in your undies (it’ll wash away don’t worry)
- Change across your cycle (from watery and clear to thicker and white or yellow).
If you’re pregnant you might have more discharge than usual, and as you near menopause you might have less.
Some change in discharge is totally normal. So how do we know when something's not right?
Signs that something might be up
Sometimes changes in your discharge can be a clue that something else is going on, like an infection.
Chat to your doctor if you notice the following signs of abnormal discharge:
- A change in colour to yellow, green, red, or grey
- A change in texture - discharge like cottage cheese - especially if you also have vaginal itching
- Foamy or frothy discharge
- A strong smell of fish, yeast or other strong smell
- Brown or blood-stained discharge
- Itching, swelling or burning sensations or other pain.
What does it mean?
Changes to your discharge can mean there’s something else going on, like:
- A yeast infection (imbalance of bacteria and easily treated)
- Vaginitis (painful inflammation that’s easily treated)
- Sexually transmissible infection (an infection you can get from sex and sharing sex toys - various treatments depending on the type).
If you’ve got some unusual discharge, your doctor can chat to you about all of your symptoms and work out a way to treat them.
This might include a physical examination, pH testing or a pap test.
Keeping your discharge healthy
Vaginas are self-cleaning! This means that cleaning with douches or soaps are unnecessary and can actually create an imbalance of pH and healthy bacteria.
To support healthy discharge and a healthy vagina, clean just the opening of your vagina and the labia (skin around the opening). Also avoid using scented products (soaps, tampons, douching products).
Wearing cotton undies and clothing that breathes will also help (especially if you live somewhere hot and humid).
Did you find this article helpful?
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