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Everything you need to know about vaginal discharge

We’ve teamed up with a selection of experts to answer some of the most-searched questions around periods and reproductive wellbeing for our content series, The Drop.

Here, we chat to Dr. Nitu Bajekal, consultant gynecologist and women’s health expert, all about vaginal discharge.

What is vaginal discharge? Is it normal?

Vaginal discharge is normal. It is a fluid or mucus that lubricates the vagina, keeps the vagina moist, prevents infection, and keeps it clean. It’s really important to avoid using feminine wipes, feminine washes, or harsh chemicals in that area. These strip the vagina of the good, healthy bacteria that protect it from infections.

What do different discharge colours and textures mean?

Vaginal discharge can change in consistency, texture and colour throughout the menstrual cycle and as you get older. It also depends whether you’re having a natural menstrual cycle, or whether the cycle is affected by hormones that you may be taking (such as the pill or a coil) as these can cause changes in vaginal discharge.

Discharge is usually clear, slippery and egg white around ovulation. This is a sign that you are ovulating. Sometimes it might be a little bit blood tinged. This excessive slippery discharge is to allow the sperm to penetrate the cervical mucus and fertilize the egg.

Just before or after your period, you may notice that your vaginal discharge is quite thick and sticky.

When should I be concerned about discharge?

Please seek medical advice if:

  • You notice curdy white or itchy discharge.
  • If your discharge has a persistent or offensive smell.
  • If you have persistent bloodstained discharge, even if you’ve had a recent cervical smear.
  • If you are at risk of having been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection and your discharge is profuse, grey, or green.
  • If your discharge has changed in its nature quite significantly. This can sometimes indicate an STI and it will need to be treated early, as delay can cause problems with pelvic pain and infertility.

What else can cause changes to discharge?

You may notice an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy.

If you’ve had surgery to the cervix, you may notice bloodstained discharge for a few weeks. But, at any other time, bloodstain discharge should not be overlooked. Please always seek medical advice.

We hope this blog has helped you to get a better understanding of discharge. You can follow Dr. Nitu Bajekal on Instagram here or find her website here. Drop us a comment below if you enjoyed the blog or follow us on socials here for more period talk.

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