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Yellow, smelly vaginal discharge. Diagnosed with PCOS and IBS, no STI. Advice wanted.

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 540 Questions
Dear Doctor,
I have an ongoing problem that has been making me feel rather self-conscious for a while (I actually can't remember but far longer than a year) and no doctor seems to have addressed it. It regards problems of vaginal discharge (yellow and smelly) and a wet (different, odd) smell from a clear discharge/fluid found on underwear.

It started with finding my underwear wet, I was worried I had an incontinence problem as this was a thin watery discharge, unlike a normal healthy vaginal discharge. My doctor told me this was unlikely as I didn't feel I needed to rush to the loo (at the time smell was not an issue) and gave me tablets for BV. This didn't solve the problem.

Over the last year I was diagnosed with PCOS (had a scan - small normal cysts, nothing to worry about) and went for private tests. I asked the doctor whilst there about the smell with watery discharge and she examined me said it was fine (although I think it looks rather red), took a swab (which came back as fine) and said that going back on the pill for PCOS would also help the discharge problem. It hasn't. I have to constantly wear pads/liners. My clothes all smell around the crotch. Not really sure how to describe the smell, but it isn't pleasant. It's making me feel really unclean - now both a yellow smelly discharge and this "wet problem" on underwear (which is not the same as when I sweat down there or any sexual related wetness). It's been going on a long time and I'd like some suggestions before I go back to the doctor. I do not drink enough fluids if this helps. I suffer from PCOS and IBS. I am not sexually active and haven't been for a long time (2 years+). I was regularly tested (negative) and 99% of the time used condoms (I was with a stable partner). I am almost certain I do not have an STI. If you could advise me before going to my doctor again and being fobbed off (!) that would be great. It's becoming tiresome (liners, clothes) and making me feel "dirty" and affecting my self-confidence for future sexual relations and feeling of "dirtyness" despite washing before (Muslim) prayer.

I am 23 years old, no longer sexually active, have lost weigh recently I'd average somewhere around 63 kilos (never weighed much more than 70kg), 1.63m. PCOS, IBS. Not had more than one or two known cases of thrush ever. On combined pill - sometimes my pill taking is "sporadic".

Problem for 1-2 years. Year before this problem was in Italy - had a random smear came back negative, changed pills a lot up until now (combined to XXXXXXX pill back to combined due to varying doctors "opinions" due to cancer in family, headaches at time, and PCOS), had urine infection cleared up with antibiotics, one occasion of losing control over bladder in such time period.

Thank you for your time
Posted Fri, 4 May 2012 in Vaginal and Uterus Health
Answered by Dr. Sujeet N Charugulla 1 hour later
Hello and thanks for your query.

I shall make an effort to provide you with good professional recommendations specific to your questions.

You indeed have a long history despite your young age, for the present concern. I can understand that doctor's opinions have not been the same and you certainly have been through many prescriptions and tests.

Firstly, PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) needs a close look, they do grow in size gradually and needs repeat scans as and when. This is important in the overall health of the ovarian hormonal levels and their influences on the uterine endometrium with regards to the periodical secretary changes.

Secondly, your erratic Mini-pill intake would have had compounded the discharge concern already present. I am sure you would have been briefed about the side effects of the mini-pill when started on it.

Thirdly, with all the factors running behind, the UTI (urine examinations until a year or two till normal reports constantly come up.

Yes, the bladder control would be compromised during such infections and the urine might add to the vaginal secretions in causing that odoured secretion.

Regular smears, urine tests, scans would be necessary as per your gynecologist. I would advise you in here to stick to one XXXXXXX gynecologist who has seen you and whom you like the most, instead of taking second and third opinions always. Not to discourage you, but you need real medical care now.

A stepped approach looking at all your issues one by one might require your patience more than anything. You can take fluids and water with free intent. In fact you should take more citrus drinks; it helps for your UTI.

Let me know if I have missed out any other concern in your question.

Yet again, I duly appreciate your query to me, I do hope that you have found something useful to help you and I shall be glad to answer any further apprehensions.


Dr Sujeet N Charugulla,
Consultant Physician.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Yellow, smelly vaginal discharge. Diagnosed with PCOS and IBS, no STI. Advice wanted. 24 minutes later
Dear Dr. Charugulla,

I'd like to thank you for your reply and for your time. But I find that with the NHS this isn't simple - getting "real medical care now" worries me in this light. I shall go to the doctors but as far as they're concerned I have PCOS and nothing was mentioned about monitoring it (essentially "deal with it" - it was me that had to push for tests, pay over £200 for private tests etc., get a second opinion because quite frankly I've lost faith in them, you constantly have to push and I'm not the medic).

I really wouldn't know where to start in dealing with this.... I'll go to the GP and mention your advice, my background and the discharge and take it from there. I don't have a gynecologist - they are only available privately or for specific outpatient hospital visits such as the scan I had for PCOS.

Many thanks for your time.
Answered by Dr. Sujeet N Charugulla 32 hours later

Thanks for the reply. Sorry for the delayed response.

I can fully understand your situation, as I had worked in NHS myself earlier though under a consultant. Yes, I am afraid that the overburdened NHS is not an ideal place. What you have realized - that GP would be your best bet is true, in fact I too believe in that and primary care is the strongest point of NHS and not tertiary care. And you need tests that can very well be done with specialist nurses and GP practices.

Hope I have answered your queries. Please accept my answer in case you have no follow up queries.

I wish you the best of health always.

Dr Sujeet
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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