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:
- does not have a strong or unpleasant smell
- is clear or white
- is thick and sticky
- is slippery and wet
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.
|Smells fishy||Bacterial vaginosis|
|Thick and white, like cottage cheese||Thrush|
|Green, yellow or frothy||Trichomoniasis|
|With pelvic pain or bleeding||Chlamydia or gonorrhoea|
|With blisters or sores||Genital herpes|
Non-urgent advice: See a GP or go to a sexual health clinic 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)
Sexual health clinics can 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.
Things you can do to help with vaginal discharge
You cannot prevent vaginal discharge.
Panty liners can help with heavy or excessive discharge or if you're worried about any smell. But do not use them all of the time because they can cause irritation.
To help avoid irritation, soreness or dryness:
wash the skin around your vagina gently using plain water
do not use perfumed or non-perfumed soaps or gels
do not use deodorants or scented hygiene wipes
do not wash inside your vagina (douche)
Page last reviewed: 25 January 2021
Next review due: 25 January 2024