posted by: Jonathan Shaw
Our most common symptom in the clinic is vaginal discharge. We give our tips below on how to think about discharge, and when to seek help.
Yes. All women have a level of vaginal discharge at all times. This is influenced by things such as your period cycle, contraception, and the amount of sex you’re having. Discharge can also be caused by some STIs, but more commonly by infections which aren’t sexually transmitted.
A key sign for us which we ask all women about is whether you have noticed an obvious change in your natural discharge. This change can be that there is more of it, or that it has a different smell or appearance. The discharge may also start to irritate your skin or have some blood in it. These changes in discharge can be a sign that you need help.
Not always. If your discharge is thick, white and causing itch or irritation this is most often due to thrush. Thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection and can be treated by simple over the counter treatments at a local pharmacy. Especially if you have had thrush before, and know the symptoms you get with it, there is no harm in trying a product like Canesten Duo from a local shop.
An obvious smell to a discharge is commonly seen with bacterial vaginosis (BV). This is also not a sexually transmitted infection, but does need effective antibiotics to treat it which have to be prescribed by a doctor or nurse. There are a number of BV therapies available on pharmacy shelves but there is no evidence that these treatments are able to treat BV. A smelly discharge should always be reviewed by one of our clinics or your GP if it lasts longer than a few days, and especially if it starts to irritate your skin.
Most likely yes, and we would always support you to access that. Especially if you have recently had a new partner, or have had sex with someone with symptoms or an STI, you should look to get tested. However if you don’t feel you are at risk of an STI, and your symptom is simply itchy discharge you can feel safe in trying thrush treatment. If it doesn’t work of course please come to see us in clinic.
Yes. We are aware it is getting harder to see us at some of our clinics with busy sit and wait services and longer waiting times for appointments. At Devon Sexual Health we are always looking to give confidence to people to manage their own sexual health. This can be via our services but also by a local pharmacy or your GP. Please use our triage system (“how can we help you?”) to find the right service for you.
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How to access our service:
We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.
If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with symptoms of coronavirus is available at nhs.uk/coronavirus .
Advice from our service:
We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.
We are currently prioritising these groups for coil and implant (LARC) fits:
More details on LARC fittings at our service are found here
Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here
For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.
Information is now also available to advise on sexual contact during a time of social distancing here.
Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available: