In many cases, vaginal discharge is normal. Any significant change in the colour, odour, consistency or amount of discharge, however, can indicate that it may be time for an STI test. There are signs to look out for which may suggest either abnormal or normal reasons for variations in discharge. If you are worried that yours is abnormal and you may have been at risk of an STI, it is always a good idea to get tested.

What is vaginal discharge?

Vaginal discharge is a fluid produced as part of a natural process in which the vagina cleanses itself. The body keeps the vagina healthy by producing mucus to remove old cells from inside. The type and frequency of discharge vary from woman to woman [1]. Whilst discharge can be entirely normal and healthy, unusual vaginal discharge can signal an imbalance of bacteria caused by an STI.

What are the non-sexually transmitted causes of discharge?

Menstrual cycle

Vaginal discharge often differs with phases of the menstrual cycle. For example, you may notice thinner discharge, similar to egg whites, between days 14 and 25 of your 28-day cycle (prior to ovulation). Following this, discharge may again become white or yellowy in colour, cloudy and possibly sticky [2].

You may wish to record how your discharge changes each month. Knowing your normal pattern throughout your cycle will help you to spot any abnormalities.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

BV is a condition caused by several different organisms. One of the most common causes of BV is Gardnerella which is a species of bacteria. BV can produce off-white or grey-ish discharge. Other symptoms of BV include a strong ‘fishy’ odour, irritation and redness around the vagina [3].


Thrush is a yeast infection caused by a fungus. It often produces a thick, white discharge, similar to cottage cheese. Discharge may be accompanied by an itching or burning sensation. Symptoms for thrush often resemble an STI, so getting tested is important to determine which is causing you discomfort. Learn more here.

Which STIs might cause unusual discharge?

Many people with STIs will not show any symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, the infections which most commonly cause an abnormal discharge are:


Although Chlamydia often shows no symptoms, it can produce an unusual discharge or mucus which may be thicker than usual, different in colour or foul smelling [4].


Symptoms of Gonorrhoea include a creamy, greeny-yellowish discharge, pelvic pain, frequent urination and a burning sensation when urinating [5].


Infection with Trichomonas may produce a frothy vaginal discharge with an unpleasant ‘fishy’ odour. The colour may be white, grey, yellow or green [6].


Mycoplasma is a bacterial infection which may cause symptoms such as an unusual discharge, lower pelvic pain and pain during sex.


It may not produce symptoms in the early stages, but Ureaplasma can lead to a watery discharge with an unpleasant odour and lower abdominal pains.

What should I get tested for?

An unusual discharge may be the symptom of a non-sexually transmitted infection or an STI. You know your body better than anyone else so if your discharge seems strange, it’s always a good idea to get tested. It is the only way to know whether your discharge is the symptom of an STI.

Designed by our medical team, the Better2Know Comfort Screen is a urine-only test, ideal for anyone who is experiencing unusual discharge or genital discomfort.

Our Comprehensive Screen tests for the same STIs as the Comfort Screen, with an additional High Vaginal Swab. This can detect the presence of any non-sexually transmitted infections which may be the cause of your discharge or soreness.

Contact us today to book your confidential test.


[1] Monistat: Vaginal Discharge 101

[2] Medical News Today: Everything you need to know about ovulation

[3] Cleveland Clinic: Bacterial Vaginosis

[4] Healthline: Female Chlamydia Symptoms to Watch For

[5] Healthline: Gonorrhea

[6] Healthline: Trichomoniasis

Contact Better2Know
0207 099 0955

Lines are open 24/7. Click to call.

Or click to Book Online now