At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 182
▲ WO M E N ' S H E A LT H
who have chlamydia and gonorrhoea have no
visible symptoms at all.
SORT IT You can't treat these infections
yourself and, if left alone, they can cause
serious health problems including infertility
and ectopic pregnancy. But you can protect
yourself from these and other sexually
transmitted infections by using a condom.
You and your partner should be checked
before embarking on a sexual relationship.
If you suspect you have been infected,
you'll need to visit your GP or local
genitourinary medicine (GUM)/sexual
health clinic for diagnoses - a course of
antibiotics should clear it up within a week.
THICK AND WHITE
This is often caused by thrush, which threequarters of women will have in their lives,
according to the NHS. Almost all women
have candida albicans growing harmlessly in
the vagina, but sometimes this yeast grows
more than usual, leading to thrush (vaginal
candidiasis). As well as a cottage-cheese type
discharge, you may feel itchy, sore and get
pain when urinating or having sex. It can
be caused by perfumed soaps, antibiotics,
pregnancy, tight underwear or the
contraceptive Pill; some people are naturally
more prone to repeat infections.
SORT IT Avoid using perfumed products
on or around your vagina, wear cotton
underwear and avoid latex condoms, which
can irritate the vagina. Thrush usually
responds to over-the-counter creams, tablets
or pessaries. Your GP can also prescribe a
course of anti-fungal treatment. Some
women also find applying plain live yoghurt
can help relieve symptoms.
If this is the first time you've had thrush,
you're over 60 or under 16, pregnant or
breastfeeding, talk to your GP. You should
also see a professional if you have repeat
bouts of thrush, or there's pain or bleeding.
Natural discharge should smell a bit musky.
If it's got a horrid whiff, it can be a sign of
infection, or a forgotten tampon. It can be
very easy to forget your last tampon during
your period, and if left in the vagina, it can
cause infection and a pungent discharge.
SORT IT Remove the tampon immediately
and keep the area clean, but avoid harsh
cleansers. Seek help straight away if you have
other symptoms, such as a high temperature,
vomiting, diarrhoea or a red sunburn-like
rash, which could indicate toxic shock
syndrome, a serious and life-threatening
infection. Otherwise, book an appointment
with your GP if the smell continues for
several days after you removed the tampon,
or if your discharge smells for no obvious
reason, as you may require antibiotics.
182 | FEBRUARY 2018
SOME WOMEN FIND APPLYING PLAIN
LIVE YOGHURT CAN HELP RELIEVE
SYMPTOMS OF THRUSH
This unpleasant smell is usually a sign of
bacterial vaginosis (BV), the most common
cause of vaginal discharge in women
of childbearing age; in the UK, 12% of
pregnant women were affected. It's caused by
an imbalance of vaginal bacteria and causes
a fishy odour and grey discharge. Although
it's not known why it occurs, smoking,
multiple sexual partners, scented products
and douching are thought to contribute.
A thick, yellow-green frothy discharge
that smells fishy may indicate trichomoniasis
(trich), which is an STI caused by a parasite,
although half of women with trich will
have no symptoms. The infection is usually
transmitted during unprotected sex.
SORT IT Although you can't self-treat if you
have an infection, you can try to prevent
bacterial imbalance by avoiding perfumed
products and strong washing powders. These
infections need treating with antibiotics. If
left unchecked, BV can increase your chance
of developing pelvic inflammatory disease
and pregnancy problems, including
miscarriage and premature labour.
WORDS: KIRSTY WARING, IMAGES: GETTY IMAGES
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