How Normal Is Your Discharge?

It's probably not a topic you feel comfortable discussing with your besties, but it's an important one at that.

Woman standing in her pants

These days we’re pretty open when it comes to talking about our periods, our hair removal habits and even our sex lives but there’s one topic of female experience which is rarely discussed over the office water cooler: vaginal discharge.

But while it might not be your first choice of conversation starter, discharge can be an indicator of health problems, and knowing what’s normal – and more importantly what’s not normal – can be your first sign that something’s up down there.

So what should you look out for?

It smells

The main purpose of discharge is to clean your vagina so if you’ve noticed a nasty smell, you can bet that your body has been hard at work flushing out an infection like bacterial vaginosis or thrush. A healthy smelling vagina should have a slightly sour scent to it, whereas a strong fishy odour would suggest that an infection is present. Be sure to check in with your gyno for a diagnosis and a course of treatment – they’ll likely prescribe a course of antibiotics that’ll clear the infection right up.

It’s a weird texture

Knickers feeling a little sticky? There’s no need to worry; depending on where you are on your monthly cycle, discharge can go from a slightly tacky, paste-like consistency to a clear and stretchy texture. Cause for concern? Discharge that’s lumpy or has a cottage cheese-type consistency.

It’s a funny colour

For the record, normal discharge should be clear or whitish, while any sudden changes in colour can be a sign of infection. In particular, discharge which is a yellowy green colour and has a slightly frothy texture may be a sign of trichomoniasis, a common STD, so be sure to get a sexual health check if you’re carrying these symptoms.

There’s a lot of it

It’s completely normal for your daily discharge levels to fluctuate throughout the month. If you’re ovulating or aroused you’ll typically see a much higher volume of discharge, whereas just after your period you may experience little or no discharge at all. Ultimately though, extra discharge isn’t a cause for concern unless it’s accompanied by other symptoms.

Worried something’s up down there? Be sure to drop in with your gyno or GP for a check up.