Vaginal health

The vagina keeps itself clean, but you should take care of yourself by: 

  • washing your vulva (the skin outside the vagina) briefly with warm, not hot, water (avoid soap - if you want to use a cleaning product, use QV or another soap substitute)
  • briefly with warm, not hot, water (avoid soap - if you want to use a cleaning product, use QV or another soap substitute) 
  • changing tampons and pads every 3-4 hours when menstruating
  • using lubrication if sex feels dry
  • using condoms to protect yourself from sexually transmissible infections.

What to look for

A healthy vagina makes a white, sticky fluid called discharge. Women often see it on their underwear or when going to the toilet. The amount varies from woman to woman and can also vary with both the time of the menstrual cycle and depending on whether hormonal contraception is used. Older women tend to have less vaginal discharge. Sometimes, a change in vaginal discharge can signal a problem. Changes to look for include:

  • a change in odour, especially a strong fish-like smell
  • a large increase in the amount
  • a change in colour
  • itchiness
  • a change in consistency.

See a doctor as soon as you can if any of these changes are associated with:

  • pain passing urine
  • uncomfortable or painful sex
  • bleeding between periods or after sex
  • pain in the lower abdomen
  • fever.