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Vaginal Discharge & How To Deal With It

Learn all about discharge, what it’s telling you, and how to check if all is well.

Talking about vaginal discharge is a topic that has in the past been taboo and for some is still an uncomfortable conversation to have. But it’s such an important indicator of women’s health and your fertility and we think it’s good to know the facts. Whether you’re wondering how to manage your discharge on a day-to-day basis, or need to know when vaginal discharge is not okay, we’ve got you covered.

What is vaginal discharge?

Vaginal discharge - even the word can make us run for cover, and it’s a topic that’s not often discussed in any great detail, strange really when it’s such an integral part of our reproductive health.

Firstly, for those of you new to it, and even for those of you who’ve had discharge for many years, let’s be clear, it’s completely normal and will change throughout your reproductive life.

So, what does discharge even do?  Well, discharge is essential for keeping your vagina and vulva clean, lubricated, and even more importantly protected from possible infections. Vaginal discharge is made is made up of mucus found in the uterus, cervix, and vagina and how much, or how little you produce will be based on hormone levels (predominantly oestrogen) in your body. No wonder the amount of discharge you produce can vary from day-to-day or even month-to-month!

The colour, consistency and amount of vaginal discharge produced can vary throughout a woman's menstrual cycle. You’ll most likely notice clear and stretchy discharge leading up to the days when you ovulate. Why? As if our vaginas weren’t magical enough, they also tell us (through our discharge) when we’re fertile, which is super helpful if you want to conceive.

Once ovulation has taken place discharge will become creamier in colour, and thicker in consistency. And yes, even though you may not be able to see it, you do still release discharge when on your periods.

Vaginal discharge will also change during pregnancy, often with an increase noticed towards the third trimester. And during the perimenopause your discharge may start to vary in colour and texture, so it’s good to keep an eye on what’s going on down there and knowing what to expect throughout different life stages.

Knowing more about it can help you when it comes to dealing with discharge in your everyday life.

When is vaginal discharge not okay?

Even though discharge is always changing, for the most part there is nothing to be alarmed by and it rarely requires medical attention.

However, vaginal discharge is pretty clever and will let you know if all is not well down there! Sometimes a change in colour, texture and odour can indicate an underlying problem such as a yeast infection, Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) and even a good indication you may have an STI. In these cases, the discharge may have a strong odour, appear clumpy or be accompanied by an itching or burning sensation.

For yeast infections you can often purchase over the counter treatment from your local chemist, that will treat the infection very effectively. However, if you are in pain, especially around the pelvic area, or the discharge is green, yellow, or frothy you should speak to your doctor or sexual health provider.

It’s a sad truth that for some of us, despite our best-efforts vaginal infections can reoccur time and time again, and whilst improving your personal hygiene can help, if this is you, our advice would be to have a chat to your doctor who may be able to offer you a longer term solution to the problem.

Dealing with vaginal discharge

So how do you deal with vaginal discharge? Honestly if you’re happy to just leave it be, then other than having to wash it out of your underwear you’re good to go!  But if you find it leaves you feeling a little uncomfortable reach for pantyliners, they help absorb any excess discharge so you can feel fresh as a daisy and confident throughout the day.

It’s a fact that everyone who has a vagina will at some time in their lives experience discharge, and just like anywhere else on the body, hygiene is key to keeping your vagina and vulva clean and to help prevent any bacterial infections.

Here’s our top tips for a cleaner and fresher smelling you.

  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing, this area needs to be able to breathe.
  • Cotton underwear may not be sexy, but it can prevent excessive sweating, which is one of the prime causes of yeast infections.
  • Always wipe from front to back after using the toilet, this can prevent bacteria from the rectal passage passing into the vagina.
  • Ditch the perfume – heavily fragranced shower gels or soap can lead to irritation.
  • Be kind, gently pat the area dry after you have showered or bathed.
  • Avoid douching – the vagina is pretty good at keeping itself clean and douching can often strip the vagina of it’s natural pH levels, increasing the risk of infections.

Is it normal for discharge to smell?

We all have our own unique scent and whilst discharge does have a slight (not unpleasant) odour, once mixed with the natural secretions found around the entrance to the vagina and the groin, such as urine and sweat it’s no wonder it can sometimes become a little smelly.  This is why personal hygiene is so important and should be part of your daily routine. 

Foul or fishy smelling discharge can sometimes be a sign of something more serious or unusual such as:-

  • A yeast infection or an STI
  • A forgotten tampon left in for longer than 8 hours, and yes, we know this happens, so it’s a good one to watch out for.
  • Eating strong smelling foods such as garlic and onions, can leave your discharge smelling pungent, it’s not an infection, but it can be overwhelming.
  • Cervical and vaginal cancers can include symptoms of a very strong - and foul smelling discharge.

Our mantra is; if in doubt speak to the professionals - your doctor or sexual health clinic will be able to help and offer you support if you feel your discharge is not as it should be.

Everything you need to know about pantyliners

If you're happy to let your discharge flow and don’t immediately break into a cold sweat or panic when your underwear gets a little damp, we salute you.

But if you want a little protection on a daily basis then pantyliners are for you.  They are literally smaller, discreet thinner pads, but their absorbency and function are quite different to a period pad.

They come in a variety of sizes and formats from small and petite, for teens who may be new to discharge, to everyday essential liners that are great for when you need daily protection.  We’ve even got an Organic pantyliner too! And to make life easier for busy mums pre and post birth, who  may be dealing with discharge and light bladder leaks there’s even a maternity liner.

Pantyliners are also a great bridge between your period and the other days in your menstrual cycle, acting as a ‘catch-all’ for spotting, mid-cycle bleeding, light urine incontinence even sweating as well as other bodily fluids.

And for the times when a period pad is just not needed, pantyliners, are perfect for when your flow is too light for a pad or tampon. They cover you (and your panties) on those light flow days at the start and end of your period, and for any other kind of fluids you may experience throughout the month.

Remember, vaginal discharge is a natural and normal part of being a woman. By understanding what's normal and what's not, you can take the necessary steps to maintain good vaginal health. Different textures, smells and different colours of vaginal discharge can indicate your fertility or the presence of an infection, so paying attention to your discharge is important.

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Frequently asked questions

How long does it take discharge to go away?

Vaginal discharge is a totally normal phenomenon, and a great indicator of your vaginal health. It will be with you throughout your reproductive life, and even though it may vary in how much you produce and how it looks, it will always be present.

What age does discharge start?

Discharge can be noticed from the age of 8 upwards and will continue to be noticed for many years to come.

Can you get rid of discharge?

Vaginal discharge is a completely natural part of the female reproductive system, so you can’t get rid of it, or prevent it. Keeping up with good intimate hygiene such as washing regularly, drying properly, avoiding irritating products like douches and wearing breathable cotton underwear, will minimise your risk of infection and strong-smelling discharge.

Can discharge go away on its own?

Your discharge may come and go depending on where you are in your cycle, but it never goes away completely, it may just be harder to see if it’s clear and runny. Healthy discharge is completely normal, so there is nothing you can do to make it go away. Pantyliners can help manage excessive discharge.

Why am I still discharging after treatment?

If you have had treatment for an infection, it may take time for your discharge to return back to normal. Treatment for STIs and other vaginal infections may take over a week to respond to medical care, and can often require repeat treatments, so you may still experience symptoms after the initial medication has been offered.

What does a yeast infection look like?

Yeast infections can cause cottage cheese discharge, characterised by a thick, white, clumpy appearance. Other symptoms of yeast infections include redness, itching and burning.

Is it normal to get more discharge on the pill?

For many, hormonal contraceptives such as the pill, implant and injection can thicken vaginal discharge to make it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and fertilise an egg. Because of this, creamy white vaginal discharge may be noticed throughout the month.

What colour is abnormal discharge?

Dark yellow, green, or grey discharge are symptoms of infection. The texture of your discharge can also indicate your vaginal health. If your discharge is chunky, frothy or foamy, you may have an infection. Normal, healthy discharge is white, off-white, or clear.


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