Hi, ladies in the house! Today we will be looking at Vaginal discharge, a very interesting topic as it regards to your health. Vaginal discharges are normal and form part of the normal physiological function of your body to keep the Vagina healthy and comfortable. However, while Vaginal discharge is normal for all women, young and old, some vaginal discharge colours, odours and consistencies may be a signal of a serious infection or sickness as you will get to find out later in this article.
What is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is the fluid which comes out of the vaginal opening. It is produced by glands in the cervical and vaginal mucous membranes. Vaginal discharge is a normal function of the body to ensure that the health of the vagina is intact. Every normal lady or female should have vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge helps to clear dead cells and bacteria from the vagina to keep it moist, fresh, healthy and free from infection.
What Does Normal Vaginal Discharge Look Like?
The normal vaginal discharge varies in colour, amount, and texture at different stages of the menstrual cycle. It also has a slight smell which is normal. The colour may turn light yellow when it dries on your undies. The colour ranges from clear, pink, milky to white. Texture ranges from clear watery or mucoid, slimy to a thick discharge. When vaginal discharge is associated with bad or foul smell, itching, irritation, painful sex, etc it is no longer normal as you will see below.
What is the Normal Volume of Vaginal Discharge?
The volume of vaginal discharge is not fixed. It varies at different stages of the menstrual cycle. It may also be increased or decreased by certain factors. The volume of Vaginal discharge tends to be reduced in the early and late stage of the menstrual cycle but increases during the mid-cycle. Some certain conditions that can influence the volume of vaginal discharge are as listed below.
Causes of Normal Increase in volume of Vaginal Discharge
The Volume of Vaginal discharge has been found to increase normally:
- During ovulation
- In Pregnancy
- When you’re sexually aroused
- During and after work out or other physical activities
- After sexual intercourse
- In emotional stress
- If you are using Contraceptive pills
- When You have IUD in place
Normal Causes of Reduced Volume of Vaginal discharge
The volume of vaginal discharge decrease normally:
- During the Perimenopausal and Menopausal period due to low levels of estrogen
- When you’re on injectable contraceptive medications
- while breastfeeding
Vaginal Discharge Colours – What is normal and what is abnormal?
The colours of Vaginal discharge can go a long way to determining if the discharge is normal or abnormal. Though colour alone may not be enough in making the diagnosis of abnormal vaginal discharge, most times it gives a clear idea of what is going on down there. The following are the colours of Vagina discharge and what they mean.
Clear Watery Discharge
A clear watery discharge is completely normal and maybe be seen at any time of the month. It can become heavy following a walkout or other physical exercises.
Clear and Stretchy Discharge
A clear stretchy discharge is completely normal and healthy. It is normally seen during ovulation or mid-cycle. It resembles the raw egg white in consistency or texture. Note: If you notice this type of discharge, please avoid unprotected sex if you do not want to become pregnant.
A white discharge can be normal or abnormal depending on if it is associated with other symptoms. You are most likely to see White discharge at the start and end of the cycle. A milky white discharge without any other symptoms such as odour, itching, pain, soreness, irritation, smell or cheesy texture is normal but if any of these other things are associated with it, then it becomes abnormal.
Thick White Clumpy discharge
A thick white discharge can also be normal or abnormal. However, a thick white discharge that has a cottage cheese texture is a sign of vaginal yeast infection. So when the discharge becomes thick white and clumpy, it is no longer normal. A yeast is now growing down there.
A pink vaginal discharge is normally seen after childbirth (lochia) and it is absolutely normal. It comes from the shedding of the uterine lining after childbirth.
When the discharge is green in colour it is not normal. Whether deep or light green discharge, its abnormal. It is a sign an infection in the vagina and you may need to see your doctor.
A yellow discharge is usually not normal. It is a sign of bacterial infection or a sexually transmitted infection in the vagina as you will get to see later in this article.
A brown vaginal discharge can be normal or abnormal. It is seen normally in irregular menstrual cycles or during your periods. If it persists especially in menopausal women, it may be a sign of cervical cancer.
Any bloody discharge that is not your normal menses should be taken seriously. Just like in the case of brown discharges, when the vaginal discharge becomes bloody then something is definitely wrong. If this happens in women that have clocked menopause, the fear is that of cancer of the cervix. See your doctor immediately.
What is an Abnormal Vaginal Discharge?
As I already stated earlier, any discharge that is associated with an odour os foul smell, itching, irritation or discomfort, painful sex, soreness, lower abdominal pain, burning sensation during urination, and some changes in colour is abnormal. We have listed causes of Abnormal discharge below.
Common Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
1. Vaginal Yeast Infection(candidiasis)
Vaginal yeast Infection is also known as Vaginal Candidiasis. It is caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the Vagina usually when the normal balance of bacteria is altered with antibiotics or other factors. The most common cause of Vaginal yeast infection is Candida hence the name. It is not an STI.
Vaginal Yeast infection is characterized by a thick white cottage cheese like of thick white clumpy vaginal discharge that is usually odourless. Other associated signs include – Soreness of the vaginal area, irritation or burning sensation, painful sexual intercourse or painful urination.
2. Bacterial Vaginosis
This is a condition that occurs when there is an imbalance in the growth of the bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. It is not a sexually transmitted infection(STI). It was formally known as Gardnerella vaginitis. Bacterial vaginosis does not produce any symptom in most of the women affected. When it does, it is characterized by a thin, greyish-white discharge that has a foul fishy smell.
This a sexually transmitted infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoea. Like Bacterial vaginosis, Gonorrhea is asymptomatic in most women that have the condition. It is characterized by a yellowish discharge, itching, frequent urination, painful or burning sensation during urination, and soreness in the vaginal area.
This is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by a parasite known as Trichomonas vaginalis. It is characterised by a frothy, yellow or greenish vaginal discharge with a foul smell. Other associated symptoms include painful intercourse, painful urination, itching and irritation around the vagina.
It is a sexually-transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Most women affected by this infection will produce no symptoms at all. It may also cause increased vaginal discharge which could be yellowish and may be associated with increased urination, painful urination and burning sensation.
Other Rare But Serious Causes Of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease(PID)
This is an infection of the upper part of the female reproductive. PID may result from any of the organisms already listed above. It may cause increased volume of vaginal discharge, lower abdominal pain, fever, painful sexual intercourse and most times the patient may be very sick. It is very important because if not properly treated, the lady may end up with primary or secondary infertility as the case might be.
Cervical cancer is caused by a virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The virus itself may not produce any notable sickness but leaves the woman with a long-term complication os cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is associated with a bloody or brownish vaginal discharge that is foul smelling. If such discharges are seen in menopausal women, please see your doctor ASAP.
What is the Treatment Of Vaginal Discharge?
The treatment of vaginal discharge is dependent on the exact cause of the discharge. Though there are some over the counter medications (OTCs) readily available for treatment of some of the causes, it is usually best for you to seek the advice of your doctor or health provider when you experience an abnormal discharge. This is because what you think is simple might end up not being as simple as it first seemed to be.
How to Care for the Vagina – Some Tips for Good Vaginal Health
There is a delicate balance that keeps the millions of organisms inside the vagina from turning against you. You need to show the vaginal some love and try not to distort this balance that is keeping it healthy. Some of the things you do thinking you’re helping the vagina to look great and smell nice are actually causing it some harm. Below are some ways you can take proper care of the Vagina to prevent infection and smelling.
♠ Wash the genital area daily with a gentle, mild soap and warm water.
♠ Always wipe from front to back after using the bathroom or toilet to prevent infection. If you wipe from back to front, the danger is that you will transfer organisms from the anal area to the vagina leading to infection.
♠ Do not use perfumed soaps and coloured tissue papers.
♠ Do not douche.
♠ Use underwears that are made from cotton.
♠ Stay away from feminine sprays and bubble baths cos your vagina does not like that.
♠ Do not wear overly tight clothing like tight jeans and shorts especially when you are going to wear it for too long.
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