What's in this article?
Abnormal Vaginal discharge is the most common complaint among all women. It is the fluid that is produced by the glands in the lining of the vagina and the cervix. A small amount of vaginal discharge, which is milky white and clear with no odor, is usually normal.
Vaginal discharge is a common symptom in women. It is normal especially in child bearing age. Vaginal discharge can be commonly understood as discharge of secretions from the cervical glands of the vagina; normally these emission are clear or white or in a simple words during vaginal discharge glands in the cervix produces clear mucus. These secretions may turn white or yellow when exposed to air.
The vaginal secretion, which flows out of the vagina every day helps to maintain your vagina healthy and clean. However, it becomes abnormal vaginal discharge when the amount and appearance of discharge changes.
Abnormal vaginal discharge is a highly common phenomenon that can be identified through three main symptoms: excessive vaginal discharge, changes in discharge color and odor, itching, irritation, soreness or burning sensation of vagina and vulva.
If you have an abnormal discharge then there will be an increase in the amount and thickness of discharge, white and clumpy (like cottage cheese), grayish, greenish, yellowish, or blood-tinged discharge, mucus and pus mixed in with discharge or frothy smell.
Abnormal discharge may be caused by the inflammation of vagina, usually known as vaginitis, which occurs due to an infection or chemical irritation. It mostly occurs in young girls with a discharge that may contain blood due to a foreign object in the vagina.
Irritation may result from spermicides, vaginal lubricants, diaphragms, and latex condoms. Also, certain detergents, natural allergens, soaps or lotions may cause a chemical irritation of the vaginal area.
The vagina becomes thinner and dryer after menopause where an inflammation of vagina may occur, thus increasing your chances of having excess vaginal discharge.
A change in appearance and odor can be caused by bacterial vaginosis. With this bacterium, normal vaginal discharge may turn into a white, gray, or yellowish cloudy discharge with a strange (fishy) odor.
5 Signs and Symptoms of Causes of Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge may range in color from clear to gray, yellow, greenish, or milky-white and may have an unpleasant smell. The symptoms and character of vaginal discharge depend upon the specific condition that is the cause of the discharge.
- Bacterial vaginosis: Not all women with bacterial vaginosis will have symptoms, but bacterial vaginosis typically produces a discharge that is thin and grayish-white in color. It is usually accompanied by a foul, fishy smell.
- Trichomonas: Trichomonas infection produces a frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor. Associated symptoms can include discomfort during intercourse and urination, as well as irritation and itching of the female genital area.
- Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea may be not produce symptoms in up to half of infected women, but it can also cause burning with urination orfrequent urination, a yellowish vaginal discharge, redness and swelling of the genitals, and a burning or itching of the vaginal area.
- Chlamydia: Like gonorrhea, Chlamydia infection may not produce symptoms in many women. Others may experience increased vaginal discharge as well as the symptoms of a urinary tract infection if the urethra is involved.
- Vaginal yeast infection: A vaginal yeast infection is usually associated with a thick, white vaginal discharge that may have the texture of cottage cheese. The discharge is generally odorless. Other symptoms can include burning, soreness, and pain during urination or sexual intercourse.
Vaginal Discharge in pregnancy
The quality and quantity of vaginal discharge change during pregnancy. More discharge is produced during pregnancy.
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is due to miscarriage, preterm labor, and premature rupture of membranes or low birth weight.
What are the causes vaginal discharge?
The vaginal walls and uterine cervix contain glands that produce a small amount of fluid that helps to keep the vagina clean. This normal vaginal discharge is typically clear or milky white in color and does not have an unpleasant odor.
A number of different infections can cause a change in the amount, consistency, color, or odor of vaginal discharge. These include:
- Bacterial vaginosis is a condition is caused by an imbalance in the growth of the bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. It is not known exactly why this imbalance in bacterial growth occurs. This condition was formerly known as Gardnerella vaginitis after one type of bacteria that commonly cause the condition.
- Trichomoniasis (trich) is infection by a single-celled parasite known asTrichomonas vaginalis. The infection is transmitted by sexual contact.
- Gonorrhea is the sexually-transmitted disease (STD) resulting from infection by the bacteria known asNeisseria gonorrhoeae.
- Chlamydia is another sexually-transmitted infection (STD) due to the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Although infected women may not have symptoms, a vaginal discharge may occur.
- Yeast infection (candidiasis) occurs when there is an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina, often due to antibiotic use or other factors that affect the natural balance of bacteria in the vaginal area.Candida species are the type of yeast most commonly responsible
How is abnormal discharge treated?
How you are treated will depend on what’s causing the problem. For example, yeast infections are usually treated with antifungal medications inserted into the vagina in cream or gel form. Bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotic pills or creams. Trichomoniasis is usually treated with the drug metronidazole (Flagyl) or tinidazole(Tindamax).
Here are some tips for preventing vaginal infections that can lead to abnormal discharge:
- Keep the vagina clean by washing regularly with a gentle, mild soap and warm water.
- Never use scented soaps and feminine products or douche. Also avoid feminine sprays and bubble baths.
- After going to the bathroom, always wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from getting into the vagina and causing an infection.
- Wear 100% cotton underpants, and avoid overly tight clothing.