It’s White, Clumpy, and Crazy Itchy
It’s Probably: A yeast infection, one that's caused by an overgrowth of the yeast that normally helps balance the bacteria in your vagina. “There’s usually a lot of cottage-cheese looking discharge," says Dweck. "And while it doesn’t have an odour, it’s accompanied by killer itching of the outer or inner labia." A yeast infection is incredibly common and can be caused by a ton of things, such as taking antibiotics or sitting around in your damp gym clothes. “Yeast love warm, moist environments,” says Dweck. Pick up an OTC anti-yeast cream, or ask your doctor about an anti-fungal prescription that ends the infection without any mess.
It’s Yellowish-Green and Possibly Stings a Little
It’s Probably: Chlamydia or gonorrhea, two common bacterial STDs, says Dweck. Other signs of either infection include pelvic pain and burning while urinating—but scarily, most women have no symptoms. Once your doctor diagnoses chlamydia or gonorrhea, they’re easily cured with antibiotics. Thing is, you have to get your guy to see a doctor, as well. “Both partners need to be cured, or you’ll keep passing either infection back and forth to each other,” says Dweck.
It’s Grayish, Thin, and Has a Strong Odour
It’s Probably: Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). “The odour is the defining trait—it’s kind of a foul, fish-like smell," says Dweck. We know—not something you want a whiff of when you take off your undies. BV is also very common (it’s the most common vaginal infection among women ages 15 to 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and is easily cured with prescription meds once your doctor diagnoses it. It’s a bit of a mystery why some women develop BV, but it generally means that something has upset the bacterial balance in your vagina, though experts aren’t always sure what.
It’s Frothy, Has an Unpleasant Odour, and Is Tinged Gray or Green
It’s Probably: Trichomoniasis. It’s the most common curable STD in the country, according to the CDC, yet you don’t have to have sex to catch it. “Trichomoniasis is caused by an organism that can live on towels, vibrators, and other inanimate objects,” says Dweck. Equally as alarming, most men and women who have it don’t show symptoms—but if left untreated, it can make it easier for a woman to contract HIV and affect her baby’s health if she is pregnant, reports the CDC. The good news is that it can be treated and cured with a prescription pretty quickly.
It’s Probably: Breakthrough bleeding, which often happens during the first few months after a woman goes on the Pill, as her body adjusts to the new hormones. If it's dark red or brownish-coloured discharge, it could simply be leftover blood from your period that took its time leaving your vagina. In rare cases, bloody discharge can signal something more threatening—for example, a precancerous cervical lesion. “Let your doctor know, so she can check you out and rule out a serious issue,” says Dweck.
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