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Treating vaginal discharge

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A thorough patient history is key to finding the c A thorough patient history is key to finding the cause of vaginal discharge

Women of child-bearing age presenting with vaginal discharge is a common consultation in general practice. Some women may present to a genitourinary medicine clinic. It is important to consider whether a sexually transmitted infection may be responsible in a woman presenting with vaginal discharge.

Clinical assessment
Eliciting a history of the presenting complaint is key; the woman may have specific concerns regarding the aetiology of the vaginal discharge. Further questioning should elicit when the discharge started, its colour, when it is present, does it vary according to the menstrual cycle, whether there is a smell associated with it and what its consistency is like. It is helpful to ascertain how the discharge has changed from what is usual for the woman. Systemic review may reveal itching, urinary symptoms, abdominal pain, bleeding, dyspareunia and/or fever.1


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