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Investigating and treating cases of vaginal discharge

Women often experience problematic discharge. Suneeta Kochhar outlines investigations and possible diagnoses.

It is common to see women of child-bearing age presenting with vaginal discharge in general practice and genitourinary medicine clinics.

Eliciting a history of the presenting complaint is key, especially as the woman may have specific concerns regarding the cause of the vaginal discharge.

Questions should explore when the discharge started, its colour, when it is present, if it varies according to the menstrual cycle, its consistency and whether there is a smell associated with it. It is helpful to clarify 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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