What is Normal Vaginal Discharge?
Every woman experiences white vaginal discharge: a thin light fluid secreted by glands in the cervix and the vagina to wash out old cells from its lining, keeping the organ clean, lubricated and free of infection. The amount of discharge varies depending on the time in the woman’s menstrual cycle. It is most commonly experienced during ovulation or just prior to/after menstruation.
It is usually not profuse and quite bright, and has no smell. Physiological discharge in women should not cause irritation to the skin or mucosa.
What Are the Signs of a Problem with Vaginal Discharge?
- Change in odor, especially an unpleasant odor
- Change in color, especially greenish, grayish, or anything looking like pus
- Change in texture, such as foamy or looking like cottage cheese
- Vaginal itching, burning(during urination or intercourse), swelling, or redness/rash
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting that is not a menstrual periodThick, white, clumpy discharge like wet toilet paper may indicate a vaginal yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis). The symptoms of a yeast infection include itching, painful sex and irritation, and aches around the vulva. It can be treated with antifungal medications in creams, ointments, tablets, and suppositories.
- White or yellow discharge with a fishy smell may be an indication of bacterial vaginosis. The symptoms include itching and burning, redness, and swelling of the vulva and vagina. It can be treated with antibiotic pills or creams.
- The frothy white, yellow, or green discharge could be indicative of trichomoniasis when accompanied by an itching sensation while urinating. Treatment typically involves antibiotics.
- Cloudy white or yellow discharge may be indicative of gonorrhea. Many people with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. If present, they may include bleeding between periods, increased urgency or frequency of having to pee, and lower abdomen pain.
How to maintain perineal hygiene?
- Shower regularly, particularly after exercise.
- Avoid using scented gels, soaps, or douches. Keep your vagina free from feminine sprays and bubble baths.
- Avoid douching, which can destroy the good bacteria that help prevent vaginal infections.
- Wear cotton underwear, which absorbs moisture and may prevent a yeast infection, and avoid extremely tight clothing.Practice safe sex by using a condom, limiting the number of sexual partners, and getting tested regularly for STIs.
- Use unscented soaps, tampons, and pads. Scented or strong products may disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina, which can increase the risk of infection.
What Should I Do If I Notice a Change in My Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is a normal, usual, and regular occurrence, and it is a reflection of your health. However, certain types of discharge may indicate an infection (vaginal or yeast infection). If vaginal discharge is accompanied by pelvic pain, a foul smell, irritation, or redness, make sure to talk to your doctor right away, who can help you treat it. This is especially important if you've had sex because it could be a sign of an STD. Most causes of vaginal discharge can be treated.
Dr. Ramani GSV