In rare cases, abnormal vaginal discharge may be due to non-infective causes such as cervical cancer.
Certain vaginal infections may give rise to characteristic abnormal vaginal discharge. However, it is important to remember that multiple infections can coexist and at times, diagnosis based solely on the characteristic of the discharge may not always be reliable. Whitish, thick, clumpy or cottage cheese like discharge associated with a burning or itching sensation and/or soreness likely indicates a yeast infection.
Bacterial vaginosis may be associated with a grey, thin, watery discharge with a fishy or foul-smelling odour. see vaginal odour
Abnormal discharge which is associated with abdominal pain or fever can be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a serious infection of the womb and fallopian tubes caused by chlamydia and gonorrhoea. If left untreated, one can become severely unwell. There is also a risk of scarring leading to infertility.
This is best done when you are not having your menses.
A speculum is inserted to open up the vaginal canal and a Q-tip like swab is used to collect a small sample of discharge from high up inside the vagina near the cervix (entrance to the womb). There may be some mild discomfort during the swab test.
The treatment of abnormal vaginal discharge is targeted at the underlying infection. Medications in the form of vaginal pessaries, oral tablets or topical gels/creams may be prescribed.
Avoiding triggers that may disrupt the natural vaginal pH and flora – these include feminine douche washes, petroleum jelly or oils for lubrication, perfumed feminine hygiene products.
Wearing cotton underwear and reducing wearing tight-fitting clothing for prolonged periods of time will allow the genital region to stay dry as well.
The correct and consistent use of condoms during intercourse will also protect against sexually transmitted infections.