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Vaginal Discharge

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Vaginal discharge is a very common biological phenomenon experienced by all women. It is quite normal to pass fluids from the vagina, especially during the menstrual cycle. If this a completely normal discharge, why is it the topic of discussion here? Well, at times this vaginal discharge can be a sign of something wrong or a matter of worry. Let us learn more about abnormal discharge causes and learn to differentiate it from the normal discharge.

Normal Vaginal Discharge

The vagina has an acidic pH that prevents growth of organisms. In order to keep it healthy and clean, the vagina secretes fluids that help maintain a balance between normal flora and infection causing organisms. Organs other than the vagina that secrete the fluid include the uterus and cervix.

Normal vaginal discharge is can be thick, sticky or thin in consistency. It is normally odorless and has a clear, white color. It may appear yellowish in color when it dries on your inner garmets. It can occur due to menstrual cycle, ovulation, emotional stress, pregnancy, use of birth control pills as well as during sexual excitement.

Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

At times, there are many changes occurring within the reproductive system or infections that causes one to undergo abnormal vaginal discharge. The normal discharge may undergo change in color, smell or consistency. One may even experience itchiness or irritation near the vaginal opening.

Signs and symptoms of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

Abnormal discharge is easily noticed. Some of the characteristic signs include:

  • Malodorous discharge
  • Causes itching in the vagina
  • Swelling
  • Appears foamy, frothy, stingy, clumpy, cottage cheese-like
  • Color may appear green, gray or yellow
  • Causes pain in the pelvic region
  • Rash or soreness near the vagina
  • Burning sensation during urination

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Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

Changes occurring in the normal flora of the vagina can lead to abnormal discharge. This can be caused by:

  • Use of antibiotics for treating a different infection
  • Excessive use of birth control pills
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Infection in the pelvic region after a recent surgery
  • Use of steroids

Other causes of abnormal vaginal discharge include:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Rectovaginal fistula
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vesicovaginal fistula

Risk factors for abnormal vaginal discharge include:

There are many infections of the vagina that can lead to abnormal discharge. These include:

  • Candidiasis

It may cause white discharge that appears thick, cottage cheese like.

  • Trichomoniasis

This infection can lead to a yellow, gray or greenish discharge that is frothy in nature.

  • Gonorrhea

An infectious disease that can spread to the pelvis if not treated early. It does not cause many noticeable symptoms, but leads to yellowish, cloudy discharge along with pelvic pain.

  • Chlamydia

Chlamydia infection leads to pus-like discharge that has a very unpleasant odor.

  • Thrush

This is a fungal infection that causes white, watery discharge with severe itchiness in the vagina.

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Who Suffers from Abnormal Vaginal Discharge?

Abnormal vaginal discharge is mostly caused by an infection. One the main reasons for infection near the vagina is poor hygiene or having multiple sexual (known/unknown) partners. Also, sex without protection can also lead to infection. Women on birth control pills or antibiotics are also at risk of developing a yeast infection. Diabetics are more likely to suffer from recurrent abnormal discharge. Women with HIV infection or poor immune levels are also prone to infections that affect the reproductive system organs.

Treating Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

Abnormal discharge is generally treated according to the problem. A bacterial or yeast infection can be treated using antibiotic or anti-fungal medications, ointments or gels. Other than that, one can prevent abnormal vaginal discharge by carrying out a few home remedies. That include:

  • Keeping the vagina clean with the help of mild soap and water
  • Do not douche after menstruation or intercourse. It may affect the normal flora, promoting infectious organism growth.
  • When wiping vagina clean, make sure you clean from the front to back. This will help prevent bacteria from gaining entry into the vagina.
  • Do not wear tight clothing or nylon underpants. Wear clean, cotton undergarments that allows skin to breath.
  • During menstruation, change pads at regular intervals. Avoid tampons.
  • Diabetics should keep their blood sugar levels in check.
  • Avoid having sex with multiple partnets as well as unprotected sex with unknown partners. This will help prevent infection with sexually transmitted diseases.

This was a bit about vaginal discharge. Passing fluids from the vagina is a healthy sign. However, anything that appears or smells different and causes pain in the pelvic region, needs examination by a doctor.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: February 23, 2015

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