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This is a topic that always stirs a controversy among women of all ages, the formal and informal healthcare practitioners as well as intimate partners of affected women.

This discharge is usually the product of secretions from the cervix as well as transudates from the vaginal mucosa that is then seen/noted at the vulva.

Every woman has a discharge that is normal for her in terms of the quantity, odour, consistency etc at the different times in her menstrual cycle. The problem arises when there is a departure from the normal for her.

Having stated the above, there should not be itching, bad odour and colour changes. These are symptoms that should not be waived, as there may portend serious underlying diagnosis.

Abnormal vaginal discharge may be the pre-eminent symptom for a variety of pathologies ranging from hypersensitivity to hygiene products and toiletries, to an infection like Chlamydia, to an inflammation like a vaginitis or cervicitis and even to a cancer like cancer of the cervix.

It is especially important that the woman pays attention to what is ‘her normal’ as this is the history that she will be able to give to the healthcare professional to help make an assessment that there is a departure from the normal.

It is a given that a clinical examination should be done, especially a pelvic examination. Many women seem to dread the pelvic examination, and all effort should be made by the doctor and chaperone to put the girl child or woman at ease when this is to be carried out.

Investigations usually will include a swab that will be sent for microscopic analysis, among other investigations.

All information garnered from the careful history, examination and investigation are harnessed to arrive at a diagnosis and the appropriate treatment offered.

This wouldn’t be complete without saying that recurrence is pretty common and can be distressing to the affected woman and intimate partner.

If you are affected by abnormal vaginal discharge, recurrent or otherwise; have a frank discussion with your doctor to arrive at the right diagnosis and of course best treatment option for you.     

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