6. Vaginal Infections and Discharge
Having vaginal discharge is a normal and regular occurrence in women of all ages. However, discharge that is abnormal in colour, consistency, odour or accompanied by other symptoms may indicate an infection or underlying condition.
Vaginal discharge is usually white or clear and watery. During ovulation, some women produce a discharge which is clear and stretchy like mucus. Towards the end of their periods, it is also normal for women to experience brown or bloody discharge.
Discharge is considered abnormal if it is:
- Yellow or green in colour
- Thick in consistency (similar to cottage cheese)
- Accompanied by an unpleasant smell
- Accompanied by itchiness
- Accompanied by fever and/or pain
Abnormal vaginal discharge is normally caused by an infection. A white and thick discharge accompanied by vaginal itchiness or swelling is a sign of vaginal yeast infection or candidiasis, a common condition.
A yellow or green discharge with a foul smell is a sign of trichomoniasis, a sexually-transmitted infection. It may be accompanied by pain and vaginal itchiness.
Increased vaginal discharge which has a foul and fishy odour may be caused by bacterial vaginosis, a common bacterial infection which also occurs during pregnancy.
These common vaginal infections can be easily diagnosed by a doctor and treated with medication, creams and ointments. However, abnormal discharge can also be a symptom of sexually-transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and HPV.