Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal Discharge:

 Changes That May Be Signs of a Problem
Is vaginal discharge normal?
Yes. Glands inside your vagina and cervix make small amounts of fluid. This fluid flows out of the vagina each day, carrying out old cells that have lined the vagina. This is your body’s way of keeping your vagina healthy and clean. The discharge is usually clear or milky and doesn’t smell bad.

The color and thickness of the discharge change with your monthly cycle. The discharge is thicker when you ovulate (when one of your ovaries releases an egg), when you breastfeed or when you’re sexually excited.

 What changes may be a sign of a problem?
Changes that may signal a problem include an increase in the amount of discharge, a change in the color or smell of the discharge, and irritation, itchiness or burning in or around your vagina. This is called vaginitis. A discharge that’s stained with blood when you’re not having your period could also be a sign of a problem. If you have any of these signs, you should talk to your doctor.
Return to top

Tips on preventing vaginitis
•After using the toilet, always wipe from front to back. This may help prevent getting bacteria from your rectal area into your vagina.
•Wear cotton underpants during the day. Cotton allows your genital area to “breathe.” Don’t wear underpants at night.
•Avoid wearing tight pants, pantyhose, swimming suits, biking shorts or leotards for long periods.
•Change your laundry detergent or fabric softener if you think it may be irritating your genital area.
•The latex in condoms and diaphragms and the sperm-killing gels that are used for birth control can be irritating for some women. If you think one of these things is a problem for you, talk to your doctor about other types of birth control.
•Avoid hot tubs.
•Bathe or shower daily and pat your genital area dry.
•Don’t douche.
•Avoid feminine hygiene sprays, colored or perfumed toilet paper, deodorant pads or tampons, and bubble bath.
Return to top

What can cause these changes?
These changes can occur if the normal balance of healthy bacteria (germs) in your vagina is upset. Many things can disturb the balance of a healthy vagina, including douching, feminine hygiene sprays, certain soaps or bubble baths, antibiotics, diabetes, pregnancy or infections.
Return to top

How can douching be harmful?
The chemicals in douches may irritate your vagina and change the normal balance of germs in your vagina. Douching can also spread an infection into the uterus, increasing your risk of getting pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of the fallopian tubes that can cause you to be unable to have children.

Douching isn’t necessary to keep your body clean. Smells you may notice usually come from outside the vagina (vulva). Keeping this area clean with gentle soap and water can prevent smells.
Return to top

What is a yeast infection?
Small amounts of yeast fungus are often found in a healthy vagina. But if too much grows, it can cause a yeast infection. Possible signs of yeast infections are listed in the box below.

Yeast infections usually aren’t caught from a sex partner. You may be more likely to get a yeast infection if you are using antibiotics, are pregnant, have diabetes, or stay hot and sweaty for long periods. Some women get frequent yeast infections for no obvious reason.
Return to top

Signs of yeast infections
•White, cottage cheese-like discharge
•Swelling and pain around the vulva
•Intense itching
•Painful sexual intercourse
Return to top

How are yeast infections treated?
Yeast infections are usually treated with a medicine you put into your vagina. Yeast infections can also be treated with oral medicine.

If you have yeast infections often, your doctor may suggest you use a medicine you can buy without a prescription. But if you have any questions about what’s causing your vaginitis, you should call your doctor. Many other things besides a yeast infection can cause vaginitis.
Return to top

What is bacterial vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is usually caused by Gardnerella vaginalis bacteria. Why some women get this infection isn’t clear. It’s probably not caught from a sex partner. Possible signs are listed below.

Bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotic medicine, usually a pill.
Return to top

Signs of bacterial vaginosis
•A white, gray or yellowish vaginal discharge
•A fishy odor that is strongest after sex or after washing with soap
•Itching or burning
•Slight redness and swelling of the vagina or vulva
Return to top

What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is caused by an organism called Trichomonas vaginalis. You can be infected but have no signs for a long time. Possible signs of trichomoniasis are listed in the box below.

Trichomoniasis is usually caught by having sex without a condom with someone who is infected. It’s usually treated with oral antibiotics.
Return to top

Signs of trichomoniasis
•A watery, yellowish or greenish bubbly discharge
•An unpleasant odor
•Pain and itching when urinating
•Most apparent after your period
Return to top

What about other infections?
Two sexually transmitted infections, chlamydia and gonorrhea, can also cause vaginal discharge. These are infections of the cervix caused by bacteria. Sometimes the only symptom may be an increase of vaginal discharge. Both of these infections can be treated with antibiotic shots or pills.
Return to top

Should my sex partner be treated?
Sometimes. Talk to your doctor if you’re sexually active. You may also need to avoid having sex or use condoms until you’ve been treated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *