What You Need To Know About Vaginal Discharge
- Published on August 12, 2022
Table of Contents
Vaginal Discharge: An Overview
It is common for menstruating women to expel fluid from their vagina before or after their menstrual cycle. It might look worrisome, but it is completely normal.
Often vaginal discharge serves to lubricate the vagina and clean out dead cells and bacteria from the uterus, cervix, and vagina. The amount, odour, texture, and colour can vary for each female, depending on the time you are experiencing vaginal discharge.
What is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is normally a white fluid or mucus discharged from the vagina in menstruating women. The discharge is made up of the dead skin cells, bacteria, and mucus of the cervix and vagina.
As women grow older and reach menopausal age, vaginal discharge decreases in amount and frequency. Young women and girls can experience up to 2 to 5 ml of vaginal discharge daily.
However, if you are experiencing additional symptoms during vaginal discharge like itching near the vaginal opening, green vaginal discharge, bad-smelling discharge, abdominal pain, and pelvic pain, then we recommend you visit a doctor.
Vaginal discharge symptoms
If you are also suffering from vaginal discharge, these are some other symptoms you might also experience:
- Vaginal rash
- Itching near the vaginal area
- Burning during urination and near the vaginal area
- Very thick mucus texture of discharge
- Bad smelling discharge
- Green or yellow discharge
What causes vaginal discharge?
It is important to differentiate between normal vaginal and abnormal vaginal discharge to understand the causes of vaginal discharge.
Normal vaginal discharge helps keep your vagina clean by removing dead skin cells and bacteria. It is white with a mucus-like texture. It is odourless and does not cause irritation or burning sensation in your vagina.
If you observe more vaginal fluid than you usually do, and it is causing an itching or burning sensation in your vagina, then it might be a sign of abnormal vaginal discharge.
Some of the vaginal discharge causes are as follows:
- Yeast infections – Yeast infections are usually caused by a specific type of bacteria called candida. This bacterium is always present in the human body, but it begins to grow rapidly in the case of infection. Yeast infections usually produce a thick white vaginal discharge which can be itchy and cause pain during sexual intercourse.
- Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) – Bacterial Vaginosis is a common infection which can occur if you are sexually active with a new partner. BV induces a very foul-smelling and watery vaginal discharge. If left untreated, it can put you at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) – Sexually transmitted infections like Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia can induce abnormal vaginal discharge. The discharge will be green and yellow. You might also experience other symptoms like abdominal pain, heavy bleeding during menstruation, bleeding after sexual intercourse, and burning while urinating.
- Vaginal atrophy – The thinning and drying of the vaginal wall due to less amount of estrogenic hormone in the body is referred to as Vaginal Atrophy. It is more common in menopausal women and causes vaginal discharge and burning. It can sometimes also lead to tightening of the vaginal canal.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – Sexually transmitted infections like Chlamydia often cause pelvic inflammatory disease. It infects a woman’s reproductive organs, including fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and ovaries. This disease also induces heavy vaginal discharge and pain in the lower belly.
Types of vaginal discharge
Each cause leads to a particular kind of vaginal discharge. Based on the type of vaginal discharge, the cause of it can be identified.
If you are mindful of the type of vaginal discharge, it would be easier for you to handle the condition better and opt for an efficient treatment plan.
Let’s look at the types of vaginal discharge to make it easier for you to diagnose your situation and take the necessary treatment steps.
- White vaginal discharge – White vaginal discharge is completely normal and indicates that the dead skin cells and bacteria from your vagina and cervix are being removed.
- Thick white vaginal discharge – If the vaginal discharge is white but thicker than usual, it might be because of a yeast infection. It can also cause itching near the vaginal area.
- Gray or yellow vaginal discharge – Gray and yellow vaginal discharge with an extremely bad fishy odour indicate a yeast infection. Some of its other symptoms are itching, burning, and swelling of the vagina or vulva.
- Yellow cloudy vaginal discharge – Cloudy yellow vaginal discharge is a symptom of Gonorrhoea. We recommend you visit a doctor as soon as possible to get it checked.
- Yellow and greenish vaginal discharge – If you are observing a yellow and greenish vaginal discharge which is also frothy in texture, then it can be a sign of Trichomoniasis. Also referred to as Trich, it is a sexually transmitted disease.
- Brown and red vaginal discharge – Dark red and brown vaginal discharge is usually caused due to an irregular menstruation cycle or during pregnancy.
- Pink vaginal discharge – Pink vaginal discharge is not discharged but shedding of the uterus lining after pregnancy and childbirth. Sometimes it can also signify implantation bleeding.
Treatment of vaginal discharge
Vaginal discharge treatment will depend on the other symptoms you experience with it, and its colour and texture. When you visit a doctor, they may ask you to provide them samples which will then be reviewed under a microscope.
Make sure you provide the doctor with all the information correctly. Some common questions they may ask you are:
- How often do you experience vaginal discharge?
- What is the texture of the discharge?
- What is the colour of the discharge?
- Does the colour change frequently?
- Is there any smell to your vaginal discharge?
- Do you experience itching and burning with your vaginal discharge?
Other physical exams can include pelvic exams, pap smears and pH tests. This will also allow the doctor to understand the condition closely and suggest treatment accordingly. In some cases, doctors also examine a scrap from your cervix to check for cervical cancer.
Once the cause has been identified, you will be suggested some antibiotics to cure the condition. You can also take some home care measures to manage the condition better.
Here are some tips you can follow:
- Avoid using soap on your vagina as it disturbs the pH balance of the vaginal area
- Do not use perfumes near the vaginal area
- Avoid scented tampons and douching products
- Do not wear wet underwear for long
- Do not wear tight clothes for long; let your intimate area breathe
- Visit a doctor for routine check-ups, especially if you are sexually active
White vaginal discharge is very common in menstruating women. Do not be alarmed if you have normal vaginal discharge. However, keep an eye on it and get immediate help if you start experiencing abnormal discharge along with other symptoms. There are many treatment plans and preventive care out there to make it easier for you.
To get the best treatment for vaginal discharge, visit Birla Fertility & IVF now and book an appointment with Dr. Meenu Vashisht Ahuja.
1. Is vaginal discharge normal?
White vaginal discharge is completely normal, and a lot of menstruating women experience it. You only have to worry if your vaginal discharge changes colour frequently. We advise you to visit a doctor in such a situation.
2. If my vaginal discharge changes, do I have an infection?
Yes, if your vaginal discharge changes colour and texture, you might have yeast or bacteria infection. Visit a doctor at once to know your situation better.
3. Why do women get vaginal infections?
Women get vaginal infections for various reasons like yeast infection, bacteria infection, pelvic inflammatory diseases, etc. However, you do not have to worry excessively if you catch vaginal infections. With some precautionary steps, they can be treated easily and quickly.
4. Is Vaginal Discharge during the menstrual cycle normal?
Yes, vaginal discharge during menstruation is normal and might change slightly in colour. All you have to do is observe your discharge closely and visit a doctor if you see an abnormal discharge. From there on, your doctor will advise you accordingly.
Dr Meenu Vashisht Ahuja
Dr Meenu Vashisht Ahuja is a prominent gynaecologist and fertility specialist with 17+ years of training and work experience across India. She has extensive experience in the field of infertility and IVF and has been associated with the best IVF centers in Delhi. Currently, she is working as a visiting consultant specialist at multiple fertility centers across Delhi.
Over 17+ years of experience
Rohini, New Delhi
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