Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

If the discharge contains blood, see chart 40

A thin, clear or whitish discharge from the vagina is normal. This discharge varies in consistency and quantity with the stage of the menstrual cycle, during sexual arousal, and during pregnancy. An abnormal discharge is usually caused by infection and should be investigated by your doctor.

  • What are the characteristics of your discharge?

    • Thick and white
      • Possible cause A vaginal yeast infection is a likely cause of your discharge, particularly if it is associated with genital irritation (see Vaginal thrush).

        Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor if this is the first time you have had this symptom. Otherwise, try using an over-the-counter product recommended by a pharmacist.

    • Normal appearance but heavier than usual

      Do any of the following apply?

      • You are taking oral contraceptives
        • Possible cause These forms of contraception may cause an increase in normal vaginal secretions.

          Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor if you are concerned or if you develop genital irritation.

      • You have an IUD
        • Possible cause These forms of contraception may cause an increase in normal vaginal secretions.

          Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor if you are concerned or if you develop genital irritation.

      • You are pregnant
        • Possible cause Increased vaginal secretion is normal in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.

          Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor if you are concerned or if you develop genital irritation.

      • None of the above
        • Possible cause Cervical ectopy may be the cause of your increased discharge.

          Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor.

    • Greenish yellow

      Do you have either of the following symptoms?

      • Fever
      • Lower abdominal pain
      • Neither
        • Possible cause A vaginal infection such as trichomoniasis is a possible cause.

          Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor or go to a clinic specializing in sexually transmitted infections.

    • None of the above
      • If you cannot identify a possible cause for your discharge from this chart, make an appointment to see your doctor.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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