is a part of life – not a sign of being


Let’s address a common misconception. Vaginal discharge is not a sign that someone is dirty. It’s completely normal and healthy. It’s actually produced by the vagina as part of keeping itself clean and is a really important indicator for understanding a person’s vaginal health. The colour and texture of discharge can indicate everything from what stage somebody is in their menstrual cycle, to whether or not they have an infection.

Vaginal discharge isn’t a sign that someone is horny either – it’s not the same as the fluid produced during sex when someone is feeling turned on. (Fun fact: The lubricating arousal fluid comes from special, pea-sized ducts called Bartholin’s glands, which are located near the vaginal opening, either side of the labia.)

If you have a vagina and you haven’t started your period, you might not get discharge yet. If you do get discharge, it’s just usually a sign that your period will start soon.

of women aged 18-24 wished they had learnt about vaginal discharge earlier.*

*The ‘Different Is Normal’ research by Canesten and sexual health charity Brook - Survey of 1,000 UK women aged 18-24. October 2020. Commissioned by Bayer, conducted by 3Gem

Lots of people get embarrassed about discharge, because it’s not talked about very much, but there is nothing shameful about it.

As long as it’s not a sudden change, discharge is normal, even if…

…there is a little or a lot of it.
It’s totally OK to be at either end of this spectrum.

…the texture changes.
Changes are based on factors like the menstrual cycle and age.

…it has a light smell.
A light smell is normal. Any strong, unpleasant smell should be checked by a doctor.

What’s normal for you?

If you experience vaginal discharge, it’s important to notice what it looks and smells like normally, so you can look out for any changes that could be a sign of a health problem.

Here are some photos showing realistic representations of vaginal discharge. There is much more variation in real life – these are just a few examples of what discharge can look like.


Healthy discharge – the colour and texture varies depending on the stage of the menstrual cycle.


Reddish brown period blood. If you’re on your period, you’re likely to have little discharge. Note – bleeding outside of your period is unusual and you should tell your doctor.


White discharge with a cottage cheese texture may indicate thrush.


Greenish discharge can be a symptom of a STI, like trichomoniasis or gonorrhoea.


Grey discharge with a strong, fish-like scent can be a sign of BV.

There's been a few times where I've felt a hot blob of something fall into my pants and thought my period had arrived. It was just my vag on a super cleaning cycle.

-J, 30

Canesten Thrush External Cream 2% w/w cream contains clotrimazole. Always read the label.