Fire down below? Discharge? Lumps? Soreness? Itching? Time to check out TheSite.org's guide to vaginal health.
A small amount of clear or slightly milky vaginal discharge is normal. It acts as a lubricant and keeps the vagina healthy. There may be more discharge on certain days of the menstrual cycle. If there is much more discharge than normal, or it is discoloured or smelly, then it could be thrush (candida), gardnerella, or a sexually transmitted infection. Infections that cause a change in discharge:
- Gardnerella - a greyish, foamy discharge, with a strong fishy smell
- Candida (thrush) - a thick creamy whitish discharge, with a yeasty smell
- Chlamydia - increased vaginal discharge
- Gonorrhoea - yellow or greenish discharge with a strong smell
- Trichomonas (TV) - a frothy discharge, sometimes a yellowy-green colour
Gardnerella (bacterial vaginosis) is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that naturally live in the vagina. After a swab test to confirm the infection, it can easily be treated with antibiotics.
Soreness and itching
This can be sometimes caused by perfumes, strong soaps, nylon underwear, and tight fitting trousers. Use a mild, unperfumed soap when you wash, and steer clear of vaginal deodorants and talcs - they can irritate the area and make things worse. Women and girls who use tampons during periods have to remember to change them frequently and shouldn't forget to remove the last one when the period is over. Anyone who suffers from skin conditions like psoriasis may find that they can affect the groin area too. It could also be caused by thrush or sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, genital herpes, warts, pubic lice, gonorrhoea, or trichomonas.
Lumps and bumps
Common causes of lumps and bumps are ingrowing hairs, acne spots, and blocked glands. Sexually transmitted diseases such as warts, scabies, syphilis, and herpes blisters may be the reason too. If you think you might have a sexually transmitted infection, sort it out straight away. Go to a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic, available at most large hospitals. GUM clinics give free and confidential advice and treatment. Or you can make an appointment to see your GP. You reduce your risk of infection by avoiding unsafe sex and using condoms.
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