It's probable that inspecting your vaginal discharge is not usually at the top of your to-do list. Pay bills…check, call Mum…check, have a look at vaginal discharge… umm... not quite.
However, when something is up, you know about it. Whether it's itching, frothy or has an odd smell, an unusual discharge brings with it a great deal of speculation, worry and Googling of symptoms. The good news is that all kinds of fluids are deemed normal, but if yours is currently looking downright bizarre, that's where we come in.
Never fear, we're here to decipher all manner of vaginal discharge:
Any watery, white discharge is typically associated with ovulating, especially if there's quite a bit of the stuff. Ovulation is the perfect time to become preggers, we all know that. Well, the increase in discharge is your vagina preparing you for sex, and it even helps those little sperms make their way to the egg. Basically, it's your body's way of saying "FERTILISE ME, SOMEONE!"
If you are taking hormonal contraception, you may not experience much of this slippery discharge.
Bloody discharge is not like a period, but may be what is called 'breakthrough bleeding'. More often than not, this is due to a new form of contraception that your body is not used to yet. Give your hormones a couple of months to adjust and you should find everything returning as normal.
If you're particularly concerned or the bleeding has continued for months, this could be connected to something much serious. Whilst this is unlikely, bloody discharge can be linked to cervical cancer.
*Bloody discharge isn't to be confused with bloody urine, which is most likely a urinary infection.
Whilst ovulation discharge isn't something you will feel, a yeast infection can be the most annoying and uncomfortable scenario. It's usually white, thicker in texture and accompanied by that all-consuming itch. If you're thinking "but how exactly do I identify this clumpy texture?!" think cottage cheese (your Mum's Slimming World lasagne will never look the same way again).
With regards to the itching, this can be on the outside (labia) meaning easy access with the creams, or inner labia that usually requires a pessary and more white discharge (of the chalky kind) until it clears up.
Yeast infections are super easy to treat with over-the-counter medications, or if you're unsure about your symptoms, head to your GP.
An odour is NOT what you want down there. Even the smell of a meadow would be weird; pleasant, but weird. The strong odour you might be having is fairly fishy and easily noticeable, making this discharge particularly embarrassing. Funnily enough, you're really not alone. This is the most common infection in women between the ages of 15-44. So take that, thrush. Whilst the ins and outs of BV are still unclear, what the professionals do know is it's a bacterial balance, and easily cured. If you're concerned you have BV, you can get treatment online or head to your GP for further clarification.
Yes, you probably have either chlamydia or gonorrhoea, especially if this is accompanied with painful urinating. As 70% of women have no symptoms, at least in this case it's clear that you need the antibiotics (there's always a silver lining). Second silver lining is that bacterial infections are easily treatable with the right antibiotics; and next up is advising your sexual partners to get tested too.
This type of discharge is hard to ignore; it's not often you're frothing from somewhere. Like other STIs, Trichomoniasis often doesn't show any symptoms but if it does, you will find your discharge is an off-colour grey or green, frothy and has an unpleasant odour.
Good news is this is completely curable too with the right antibiotics.
Your discharge is never consistent, as certain times in your menstrual cycle, what you've eaten and new medication can all have an impact on your lady parts. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, however, make sure you seek advice from a medical professional, who will be able to direct you to the right treatment.