Vaginal discharge serves an important housekeeping function in the female reproductive system. Fluid made by glands inside the vagina and cervixcarries away dead cells and bacteria. This keeps the vaginaclean and helps prevent infection.
WHAT IS NORMAL?
Most of the time, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. The amount can vary, as can odor and hue (its color can range from clear to a milky white-ish), depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. For example, there will be more discharge if you are ovulating, breastfeeding, or are sexually aroused. The smell may be different if you are pregnant or you haven't been diligent about your personal hygiene.
WHEN IS IT ABNORMAL?
None of those changes is cause for alarm. However, if the color, smell, or consistency seems significantly unusual, especially if it accompanied by vaginal itching or burning, you could be noticing an infection or other condition.
What causes abnormal discharge?
Any change in the vagina's balance of normal bacteria can affect the smell, color, or discharge texture.
Antibiotic or steroid use
Bacterial vaginosis, a bacterial infection more common in pregnantwomen or women who have multiple sexual partners
Birth control pills
Chlamydia or gonorrhea (STDs), sexually transmitted infections
Douches, scented soaps or lotions, bubble bath
Pelvic infection after surgery
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Trichomoniasis, a parasitic infection typically contracted and caused by having unprotected sex
Vaginal atrophy, the thinning and drying out of the vaginal walls during menopause
Vaginitis, irritation in or around the vagina
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 medicationsinserted 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 or tinidazole
HOW CAN IT BE PREVENTED?
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
Use barrier contraceptive like condoms ,avoid unprotected sex.
Think twice before using over the counter medicines.
What should I do if I have abnormal vaginal discharge?
discharge is perfectly normal but if your discharge looks unusual and you experience other symptoms such as itching and swelling of the vagina, fever, fatigue, pain in the abdomen, unexplained weight loss, or increased urination, you should consult your doctor.
What does a lot of vaginal discharge mean?
In the majority of cases, excessive vaginal discharge is merely the body's reaction to certain physiological changes. The amount of discharge varies during your menstrual cycle. It's normal for vaginal discharge to increase with ovulation, breastfeeding, exercise, sexual arousal, the use birth control pills and emotional stress. A lot of discharge is often observed in early pregnancy. Although in most cases excessive discharge is normal, sometimes it can indicate serious problems such as a vaginal infection or a cervical or vaginal tumor.