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Vaginal Discharge

AMBULATORY CARE:

Vaginal discharge

is normal. It is usually clear or white and odorless. Vaginal discharge is your body's way of cleaning your vagina so it is healthy. Irritation, itching, burning, or a change in the amount, smell, or color may indicate a problem.

What causes changes in vaginal discharge:

  • Chemicals in douches
  • Feminine hygiene sprays
  • Certain harsh soaps
  • Antibiotics
  • Diabetes, pregnancy, or an infection

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have swelling, burning, itching, or irritation in or around your vagina.
  • You have an increase in the amount of discharge.
  • The color or smell of your discharge changes.
  • Your discharge looks similar to cottage cheese.
  • Your discharge is bloody and it is not your monthly period.
  • You have pain during sexual intercourse.
  • You have trouble urinating, or you urinate often and with urgency.
  • You have abdominal pain or cramps.
  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have low back pain or side pain.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Keep your vagina healthy:

  • Always wipe from front to back after you use the toilet. This prevents spreading bacteria from your rectal area into your vagina.
  • Clean in and around your vagina with mild soap and warm water each day. Gently dry the area after washing. Do not use hot tubs. The heat and moisture from hot tubs can increase your risk for another yeast infection.
  • Do not wear tight-fitting clothes or undergarments for long periods. Wear cotton underwear during the day. Cotton helps keep your genital area dry and does not hold in warmth or moisture. Do not wear underwear at night.
  • Change your laundry soap or fabric softener if you think it is irritating your skin.
  • Do not douche or use feminine hygiene sprays or bubble bath. Do not use pads or tampons that are scented, or colored or perfumed toilet paper.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about birth control options if necessary. Condoms have latex and diaphragms have gel that kill sperm. Both of these may irritate your genital area.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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