Vaginal discharge is secretions produce by the glands in the cervix and vagina which helps to clean the vagina. Normal secretions are often clear, milky white and odourless.
Every woman, after the onset of puberty, will experience vaginal discharge and the amount and type experienced by each woman can vary greatly. Discharge can also be affected by where you are in your menstrual cycle as well as pregnancy.
Usually during the middle of your menstrual cycle, around day 14-16, you may notice an increase in your vaginal discharge, which looks and feels like egg white consistency. This is associated with ovulation (when an egg is release from your ovary).
Occasionally, this can be accompanied with slight bleeding/spotting (mid cycle bleeding), which is harmless. This phase is also known as the ‘fertility window’ where you can get pregnant. Hence, keeping track of your vaginal discharge can be one useful way of tracking when you ovulate.
So when should you worry?
In general, when there is a change in the colour, consistency or smell of your normal vaginal discharge, it usually indicates the presence of an infection; such as candidiasis (yeast/vaginal thrush), bacteria vaginosis, trichomoniasis, Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, etc.
It is important to note that not all vaginal infections are sexually transmitted. Examples of non-sexually transmitted infections include candidiasis and bacterial vaginosis, which can manifest in any women regardless of whether you are sexually active.
On the other hand, infections like trichomoniasis, Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are considered sexually transmitted infections.
Why is it important to get it treated or checked?
Besides causing other symptoms such as itchiness, pain, bleeding after sex or bleeding between your periods, it is crucial to have any abnormal vaginal discharge checked and treated. This is important because an untreated infection may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can further progress on to other issues such as long term pelvic pain and infertility.
If you have any concerns about your vaginal discharge, are worried it isn’t normal or have noticed a change in your normal discharge patterns then see your doctor or visit our clinics for further advice and assessment. The doctor will decide whether tests such as blood tests or swab tests are necessary. If an infection is detected, don’t panic. The majority are easily treatable!