Vaginal discharge

Vaginal discharge is normal and most women and girls get it. It’s a fluid or mucus that keeps the vagina moist, clean and protects it from infection.

Check if your vaginal discharge is normal

Usually, vaginal discharge is not anything to worry about if it:

  • doesn’t have a strong or unpleasant smell
  • is clear or white
  • is thick and sticky
  • is slippery and wet

You can get vaginal discharge at any age.

The amount of discharge varies. You usually get heavier discharge during pregnancy or if you’re sexually active or using birth control. It’s often slippery and wet for a few days between your periods (when you ovulate).

When it can be a sign of an infection

If your discharge changes (for example, its smell, colour or texture) it might be a sign of an infection.

Discharge Possible cause
smells fishy bacterial vaginosis
thick and white (like cottage cheese) thrush
green, yellow or frothy trichomoniasis
with pelvic pain [or bleeding] chlamydia or gonorrhoea
with blisters or sores genital herpes

See a GP or go to a sexual health clinic if:

  • your discharge changes colour, smell or texture
  • you produce more discharge than usual
  • you feel itchy or sore
  • you bleed between periods or after sex
  • you get pain when peeing
  • you get pain in the area between your tummy and thighs (pelvic pain)

Sexual health clinics can help with abnormal discharge

Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.

Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you don’t need an appointment. They’ll often get test results quicker than GP practices.

Find a sexual health clinic

You can’t prevent vaginal discharge

Panty liners can help with heavy or excessive discharge or if you’re worried about any smell.

To help prevent irritation, soreness or dryness:

Do

  • wash gently
  • use water and an emollient, such as E45 cream, or plain soap

Don’t

  • use perfumed soaps or gels
  • use deodorants or scented hygiene wipes
  • douche

Call 111

If you can’t speak to your GP or don’t know what to do next.