At times one must have observed some kind of a fluid or gel released onto a tissue when used or in underpants. This is the vaginal discharge, basically the fluid that comes out of the vagina. Why is it important for the vagina to discharge this fluid? Similar to few other organs in the system, the vagina is a self cleansing unit. The discharge that is released helps in keeping the moisture level up in the vagina and helps clean itself, helps carry dead cells and bacteria . It also helps in preventing and fighting diseases. Vaginal discharge also helps track the menstrual cycle.
A normal vaginal discharge is said to be of a certain color, texture, odour and so on. It is expected to be somewhat thin, sticky and elastic or thick and gooey. For some, the volume of discharge is less, more for some. Few girls may even have to use a panty liner as the discharge volume is higher. For few it is white in colour, others clear or off-white. It differs from person to person.
It is quite normal for the discharge to change during the entire menstrual cycle. When the discharge does not follow the normal pattern, it is deemed to be problematic or perhaps being abnormal. What are those characteristics through which one can realize that the discharge is being unusual?
Few simple parameters that are self-observatory are:
- Odor: If the discharge is releasing some sort of unpleasant odour than usual
- Color: If the discharge begins to look greenish, grayish or anything like a pus
- Texture: If the discharge appears like a foam or a cottage cheese
- If there is presence of any itching, burning, swelling or redness
- Any sort of bleeding or spotting at times other than menstrual period
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The change in the discharge can be caused due to various reasons. It is easy to guess that such changes are usually due to the act of microorganisms – fungi and bacteria. Yeast infections and bacterial infections are the usual suspects. These include bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis (yeast infection). Sexually Transmitted Diseases are also the usual culprits
- Yeast infections – cause the discharge to turn into very white and thick discharge. Usually it does not affect the odour but can cause some serious itching and burning issues. Presence of yeast in vagina is normal but sometimes it can multiply by several folds. It is said that Stress, Diabetes, Use of Birth Control Pills, Pregnancy and prolonged use of antibiotics, for more than 10 days can cause increased yeast infection
- Bacterial infections – can cause the discharge to turn thin and grayish and have unpleasant and fishy odours. It is said that risk of bacterial infections occur when there tends to be multiple sexual partners or in cases of oral sex
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases – During Trichomoniasis, a very common sexually transmitted disease, not only does the discharge cause strong unpleasant odour but also turns yellow-green and becomes frothy. It also causes itching and pain during urination. Sharing towels and bathing suits is also said to cause infections. Another sexually transmitted disease known as Gonorrhea is also known to upset the discharge levels.
Any variation and problem with vaginal discharge is curable. However, diagnosis is very important. This is possible only when one visits a doctor. It is extremely important to contact one’s gynecologist as any unprotected sex might lead to possibilities of sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. STDs are known to cause changes in vaginal discharge. Therefore, visiting the doctor and divulging every information such as information about symptoms, menstrual cycle, sexual activity is extremely important. Other symptoms to watch out for to visit the doctor includes fever, pain in the abdomen, unexplained weight loss, fatigue and increased urination.
Certain homecare measures such as practicing good hygiene, using only breathable cotton underpants and no tight clothing is encouraged. Washing the vagina with a mild and gentle soap with warm water can help. Never use scented soaps, sprays or bubble baths. Always wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from getting into the vagina and causing an infection.To decrease yeast infections when taking antibiotics, eating live and active cultures of yogurt is also helpful.
In case you face any of these problems or observe symptoms that are troubling, make sure to contact the best experts led by Dr. Shwetha, at Janisthaa Fertility Centre and Hospital. Appointments can be taken online by visiting the website – http://jnaistha.local/ or by calling on +91 7619198083