I have been randomly getting brown vaginal discharge for a while. It doesn't smell but sometimes comes and goes. I haven't had a period for three months, but they have never been normal and I'm definitely not pregnant. I've been on the same contraceptive pill for four years. Is this normal?
Vaginal discharge is perfectly normal, and the amount of discharge can vary from woman to woman. The vagina is never totally dry, and to keep itself moist, clean and healthy it produces discharge even when a woman is not sexually aroused. Throughout each month the appearance of vaginal discharge will change from quite thick and white, to thin, stringy and clear.
If your discharge changes or smells, it's a good idea to get it checked out. In order to find out what could be causing the unusual vaginal discharge and your missed periods, you would need to get some medical advice.
If your discharge is unusual, smelly or causes you to itch, it may be a sign of infection and is worth getting checked out. If you have had sex without a condom, then you may have been at risk of an infection.
There are many different types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and they can be spread in different ways, not just through penetrative sex. However, there are also some infections that are not necessarily sexually transmitted at all.
It may be that the unusual discharge you are experiencing is unrelated to an STI. However it would still be a good idea to visit a doctor (GP) or nurse to find out what else could be causing it. They would also be able to give you medical advice about your missed periods. You can get medical advice from a Brook centre, youth clinic, family planning clinic or your GP.
People who have an infection sometimes get symptoms to show that something is wrong. But often they don't. Where there are symptoms, these may include unusual discharge from the vagina or penis, heavy periods or bleeding between periods, pain or burning sensation when passing urine, rashes, itching or tingling around the genitals or anus.
If you are worried that you may have an infection, you can get advice and testing at a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic. Services are located attached to or within local hospitals, and are usually separate, discreet departments. GUM consultations are free and confidential, which means that no one will be told about your visit, unless you want them to be.
It's common to feel nervous at the thought of being tested for an infection, but it's important to remember that most infections are easily treatable. Delaying treatment could mean that an infection gets worse and other problems could occur.
Tests for infections vary. Some involve taking swabs from the cervix or tip of the penis. Others involve taking a urine or blood sample. Before being tested it is usual to see a health adviser who will discuss any concerns, and reassure you about what the tests will involve.
Health advisors at GUM services are very used to seeing young people, and answering any questions they might have. If you are worried you may have been at risk of infection, health advisors will see it as a positive thing that you are looking after your sexual health by going for testing.
If you choose to visit a Brook Centre and you haven't been to one before, set your mind at rest by finding out what to expect when you get there.
Answered by YouthNet in association with Brook