Vaginal discharge

What is vaginal discharge?

Vaginal discharge is a combination of fluid and cells that are shed continuously through the vagina and some amount is entirely normal. The fluid formed within glands inside the vagina and cervix clears away dead cells and bacteria. This keeps the vagina clean and protects against infection.

The color and consistency of vaginal discharge may vary from whitish and sticky to a clear and watery discharge dependent on the time in the menstrual cycle.

What causes abnormal vaginal discharge?

Any change in the balance of normal protective vaginal bacteria can alter the odour and colour of vaginal discharge

Thrush infection and bacterial vaginosis are common and not sexually transmitted infections.
Sexually transmitted infections include chlamydia and gonorrhea and trichomonas vaginalis

Other causes

  • Cervical polyps
  • Cervical cancer
  • Menopause

What tests are available?

Swab tests are obtained from the vagina and cervix for laboratory testing.

How is abnormal vaginal discharge treated?

Treatment will depend on the cause of the discharge.

Antifungal treatment including cream and tablets are used to treat thrush infection

Antibiotics or cream is used for treatment of bacterial vaginosis alongside lifestyle advice to avoid soaps and shower gel/bubble baths.
Sexually transmitted infections are treated with antibiotics or antivirals depending on the particular infection.

Vaginal discharge due to the menopause is managed with local estrogen cream or pessaries

Your individual treatment will be discussed at the consultation.