When do I need to see a doctor about unusual discharge?
Here’s a handy key to work out whether your discharge is healthy or whether you should seek advice from your nurse, doctor or sexual health professional:
Normal: It’s totally normal for a healthy vagina to have a scent. Products claiming to ‘clean’ your vagina and improve its scent are unnecessary and the perfumes in them can even be harmful for your vagina’s natural pH balance. Washing with water is sufficient.
When to see a doctor: If your vagina suddenly changes scent or starts to smell strongly. Watch out particularly for a ‘fishy’, strong odour which could be an indication of infection.
Normal: Healthy vaginal discharge should be clear or whitish. It may look more yellowish when dry, and you might get brownish discharge towards the end of your period.
When to see a doctor: If your discharge ever suddenly changes in colour, or if it is very yellow or greenish, grey or pink.
Normal: The amount of discharge can vary from lots to very little. It varies from person to person and depending on your menstrual cycle and whether you are aroused. It can also increase during pregnancy.
When to see a doctor: Sudden, persistent changes in volume could be an indication of an underlying issue, especially if you have any other symptoms such as bleeding between periods or pelvic pain.
Normal: This will also change depending where you are on your menstrual cycle. The texture can vary from being clear and stretchy to being paste-like.
When to see a doctor: You should see a doctor if you experience discharge with a lumpy or cottage-cheese like or a frothy consistency, as this could be a sign of infection.
You should also see a doctor if you experience unexplained or unusual vaginal bleeding, itching, swelling or lumps/ bumps of the labia, painful urination, stomach/pelvic pain, pain during sex or bleeding after sex or if your discharge changes after the menopause.