Women's Health and Equality Queensland


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Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge is fluid that comes out of your vagina. It helps keep your vagina clean and is a normal part of having a vagina. There are different types of discharge from healthy everyday discharge that changes with your cycle, to discharge that could indicate you may have thrush or an infection and should see a health professional.

Discharge that changes with your cycle

Cervical mucus is fluid made by the cervix, and travels down the vagina. It is designed to either help or inhibit sperm travelling up to the uterus. It changes in colour and consistency throughout your 28 Day cycle. At ovulation (around day 14 of your cycle) the fluid will be clear and copious, with an egg white type consistency. This helps the sperm swim up the vagina, through the cervix and into the uterus to find a freshly released egg. At other times of your cycle, you are likely to find you have less cervical mucus and that it is thicker and more likely to be white or cream in colour rather than clear. This thick mucus helps prevent the sperm from entering the uterus when you are not fertile.

Discharge because you are aroused

Your body will respond to sexual stimuli by increasing fluid production in the vagina. This arousal fluid is often copious, clear and slippery. This fluid is great when you are having sex or masturbating and helps make sexual interaction way more enjoyable. It is a bodily reflex so it can also sometimes happen if you want it to or not. If you aren’t producing much arousal fluid or “getting wet” it could be because you aren’t sufficiently turned on and you may need to have longer foreplay tailored to your needs. Certain medications can cause a lack of arousal fluid, such as the contraceptive pill, or life stages such as menopause when hormone levels decline.

Discharge you should treat

If your discharge is milky white and slightly chunky, this can be a sign of Thrush. 75% of women experience thrush at some point in their life. It is caused by too much growth of the naturally occurring candida albicans, or often just called a yeast infection. The discharge is usually white, thick, chunky and sometimes itchy. Treatment can include over-the-counter creams or boric acid. 

Grey, thin and watery discharge, often with a strong, often fishy smell, can indicate Bacterial Vaginosis which is a common bacterial infection. Though it isn’t an STI, it is often associated with sexual activity and an imbalance in the normal vaginal bacteria. Bacterial Vaginosis can sometimes self-resolve though treatment options include antibiotics, vaginal cream, or boric acid. If you are pregnant make sure you chat with your healthcare professional as it can be associated with early onset of labour.

Slightly yellow-ish discharge can be completely normal as this can occur as discharge is exposed to air. If the discharge is dark yellow or green then you should go and see a health care professional as it could be a sign of infection or an STI.

Pink or red discharge is from small amounts of blood and is often called spotting. This can be completely normal and some people regularly experience spotting at ovulation or before their period.  It is also possible to get spotting after sex, particularly if there is an absence of arousal fluid. If pink or red discharge is new for you and it happens more than once it is best to see a health professional and make sure everything is okay.

It is important to see a health professional if you have any abnormal changes to your discharge.

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