Vaginal discharge

Vaginal discharge is normal – most women and girls get it. It's a fluid or mucus that keeps the vagina clean and moist, and protects it from infection.

Check if your vaginal discharge is normal

Vaginal discharge is not usually anything to worry about if it:

You can get vaginal discharge at any age.

The amount of discharge varies. You usually get heavier discharge during pregnancy, if you're sexually active or if you're using birth control. It's often slippery and wet for a few days between your periods (when you ovulate).

When vaginal discharge can be a sign of an infection

If your discharge changes – for example, in smell, colour or texture – it might be a sign of an infection. But do not self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.

Possible causes
Discharge Possible cause
Discharge

Smells fishy

Possible cause

Bacterial vaginosis

Discharge

Thick and white, like cottage cheese

Possible cause

Thrush

Discharge

Green, yellow or frothy

Possible cause

Trichomoniasis

Discharge

With pelvic pain or bleeding

Possible cause

Chlamydia or gonorrhoea

Discharge

With blisters or sores

Possible cause

Genital herpes

Non-urgent advice: Get help from NHS 111 if:

  • your vaginal discharge changes colour, smell or texture
  • you produce more discharge than usual
  • you feel itchy or sore
  • you bleed between periods or after sex
  • you get pain when peeing
  • you get pain in the area between your tummy and thighs (pelvic pain)

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Information:

Sexual health clinics can also help with abnormal discharge

Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.

Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment. They'll often get test results quicker than GP surgeries.

Find a sexual health clinic

Things you can do to help with vaginal discharge

You cannot prevent vaginal discharge, but it's normal and usually nothing to worry about.

To help avoid irritation, soreness or dryness:

Do

  • wash the skin around your vagina gently using warm water and mild, non-perfumed soap

Don’t

  • do not use perfumed soaps or gels

  • do not use deodorants or scented hygiene wipes

  • do not wash inside your vagina (douche)

Page last reviewed: 15 February 2024
Next review due: 15 February 2027