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Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

In most cases, vaginal discharge is something that’s completely normal. As a way in which your body ensures that the vagina remains clean, moist and free from infection, discharge can often differ in appearance. 

If vaginal discharge appears clear in colour and without odour, then this is considered to be normal. The amount of discharge may change with the menstrual cycle and will often increase around the time of ovulation. The discharge may change after a period or following exercise. 

Conversely, abnormal vaginal discharge can describe discharge that appears distinctive in colour, appearance, or gives off an offensive odour. This sort of discharge is an indication of a problem which could be caused by an infection or a potentially more serious problem and is something that should be assessed by an expert gynaecologist.  

Normal vs abnormal

As explained above, what separates normal vaginal discharge from abnormal vaginal discharge is how this bodily secretion looks and smells. The frequency at which your vagina discharges fluid can be determined by a number of factors. These can include whether you are using some form of birth control, are pregnant or are currently sexually active. 

  • Normal vaginal discharge: This can occur at any point throughout a woman’s life, and the intention of this is to ensure that the vagina stays clean and at a reduced risk of infection. White discharge can appear following menstruation and is considered to be completely normal if free from odour. Brown discharge can also appear straight after your period has ended and is usually seen as nothing to worry about. Discharge can also appear clear and watery after exercise, whilst stretchy and clear discharge is not a cause for concern as this normally means that a woman is experiencing ovulation. 
  • Abnormal vagina discharge: Discharge that appears green, yellow, thick or strong-smelling could be a sign of a number of infections, ranging from thrush to common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Brown or bloody discharge may, in some cases, be a sign of cervical or endometrial cancer. However, infection, benign changes to the cervix (e.g. cervical ectropion) and polyps affecting the lining of the womb or cervix are much more common causes. 

The right treatment for you

However embarrassing, if you are concerned that you may be experiencing abnormal vaginal discharge then it’s important to seek out the advice of an expert to ensure you have the correct assessment and treatment to resolve your problems. By booking in for a consultation with Mr Francis Gardner, you’ll benefit from the professional and expert opinion of one of the country’s leading Advanced Gynaecology practitioners. As an individual with a wide range of experience in diagnosing and treating various gynaecological conditions, Mr Gardner will ensure that your health concerns are managed in a sensitive and comprehensive manner. Get in touch today. 



During pregnancy, the female body undergoes many significant hormonal changes and this may result in an increase or decrease in discharge. It is not uncommon to experience discharge during pregnancy but spotting – or light bleeding – can be a sign of miscarriage, so it is advised to seek medical advice to rule out this possibility.


Although STIs are a leading cause of certain types of abnormal vaginal discharge, there are other ways in which infections can occur. Hormonal changes can make certain women more vulnerable to infections such as bacterial vaginosis. It is important to note that certain types of contraception may also make you more prone to infection. Medication such as antibiotics and steroids can also change the normal bacterial flora (the bacteria which normally live in the vagina), leading to the overgrowth of certain types of organisms which can lead to bacterial vaginosis or vaginal thrush (candidiasis). It is important to note that recurrent infections such as vaginal thrush can be a sign of a developing underlying condition such as glucose intolerance and diabetes.

It is important to maintain your personal hygiene at all times, and this is especially important when you suspect you have a vaginal infection. In this instance, you can manage this by washing regularly and avoiding the use of vaginal douches, perfumed soaps or other bathing products in this part of the body.

After an initial consultation, you may be required to undergo a series of tests and examinations to determine the cause of your abnormal vaginal discharge. This can include pelvic and vaginal exams, an STI test or, in rare instances, a biopsy if pelvic tissue appears abnormal at the clinical assessment.