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There are several problems that can occur with your va-jay-jay – from mysterious bumps to fishy discharge and unexplained pain. Check this list of symptoms to decide when you need to see a doctor.
Our Expert: Dr Regina Zuzarte-Ng, obstetrician and gynaecologist at GynaeMD Women’s Clinic
When You’ve Got Weird Discharge
1. Itchiness and cottage cheese-looking discharge
Why it happens: This is most likely caused by a yeast or fungal infection, commonly known as thrush.
What you can do about it: Over-the-counter or pharmacist-dispensed antifungal creams and vaginal pessaries can treat the problem. Taking probiotics can also help.
When you should see a doctor: If the infection doesn’t go away despite treatment or if you keep getting these infections repeatedly.
2. Watery white, grey, or yellow discharge with a fishy smell
Why it happens: Most likely bacterial vaginosis (BV) – a vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of abnormal bacteria, which can be caused by anything that changes your natural pH balance (like douching, sex or antibiotics).
What you can do about it: Avoid scented soaps and bubble baths.
When you should see a doctor: While BV can sometimes clear up on its own, always see a doctor and get treated with medication (oral or vaginal). This is especially important if you’re pregnant as it can trigger pre-term labour, or if you’ve recently undergone gynaecological surgery.
3. Frothy, yellow or greenish discharge with a foul smell
Why it happens: Could be trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted infection by a parasite known as trichomonas vaginalis)
What you can do about it: Talk to your doctor, who will examine your vaginal discharge for evidence of the parasite and also screen for other sexually transmitted infections.
When you should see a doctor: Trichomoniasis is easily cured by antibiotics, which you and your sexual partner will need to take. You will also need to refrain from sex during treatment.
4. Bleeding/spotting outside of your period
Why it happens: There are many reasons why this can happen, including rough sex, hormonal imbalance; abnormal growths such as fibroids, endometrial polyps and ovarian cysts; ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage; infections of the vagina or cervix or cancer.
What you can do about it: Make a note of when it occurs. Spotting is totally normal if you’re on a low-dose birth control pill, but bleeding after sex could be a symptom of cervical cancer.
When you should see a doctor: Any persistent spotting should definitely be brought to your doctor’s attention.
5. Cloudy or yellow discharge
Why it happens: This could either be an infection but it can also be physiological (of normal occurrence), as the vaginal/cervical mucus changes consistency during the menstrual cycle.
What you can do about it: Monitor the discharge throughout an entire menstrual cycle.
When you should see a doctor: If the discharge is foul-smelling, and accompanied by pelvic / abdominal pain or itchiness.
Next: When you notice a bump