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Vaginal Discharge: Causes, Types, and Treatment

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  • Overview
  • What causes abnormal vaginal discharge?
  • Different Types of Discharge
  • When should you visit a gynecologist for vaginal discharge treatment?
  • What is the treatment for abnormal vaginal discharge?
  • How can you prevent

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Vaginal discharge is a normal and regular occurrence in females. In most cases, it is nothing to worry about. In fact, vaginal discharge plays an important role in housekeeping function in the female reproductive system and prevents infections. Vaginal discharge is made by glands inside the vagina and cervix and serves the purpose of flushing out dead cells and bacteria, keeping the vagina clean and healthy.

Some types of vaginal discharge may occur due to an infection. If the color, odor, or consistency of vaginal discharge seems fairly different than the normal, and is accompanied with other symptoms like vaginal itching or burning, it may be an indication of a vaginal infection or other health condition. Consult your gynecologist for timely treatment and diagnosis of abnormal vaginal discharge to avoid further complications.

What causes abnormal vaginal discharge?

As discussed earlier, vaginal discharge is completely normal. But some changes can occur if the normal healthy bacteria balance in the vagina is disrupted. Common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge include-

  • Douching

  • Use of scented soaps or lotions, bubble bath

  • Feminine intimate hygiene sprays

  • Allergens in certain soaps or bubble baths

  • Use of certain antibiotics or steroids

  • Pregnancy

  • Unifies the texture of the vaginal skin

Other health related causes of abnormal vaginal discharge include-

  • Bacterial Vaginosis

  • Vaginitis

  • Yeast infections

  • Diabetes

  • Cervical cancer

  • STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) such as Chlamydia or gonorrhea

  • Various STIs (sexually transmitted infections)

  • Pelvic infection (usually after a surgery)

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID

  • Trichomoniasis

  • Vaginal atrophy

Read ahead to learn more about what different types of vaginal discharge might mean and when should you see your gynecologist.

Different Types of Discharge

vaginal Discharge infographic
  • Thick white vaginal discharge- Thick, white vaginal discharge is common at the beginning and end of the menstrual cycle. Normal white vaginal discharge is not accompanied by itching or any other symptoms. If itching or other uncomfortable symptoms are present, thick white vaginal discharge can indicate a yeast infection.

  • Clear, stretchy vaginal discharge- Clear, stretchy vaginal discharge is actually the fertile mucous and is a sign of ovulating.

  • Clear, watery vaginal discharge- Clear and watery vaginal discharge can occur at different times of the menstrual cycle and can be heavy after exercising or strenuous activities.

  • Yellow or green vaginal discharge- Green or yellow colored vaginal discharge may indicate an infection. Thick or clumpy discharge like cottage cheese which has a foul odor is a common sign of vaginal infections.

  • Brown vaginal discharge- Brown vaginal discharge may occur right after periods, and is just the leftover blood after the periods end. If there are no other symptoms like itching or pain along with brown discharge, it is typically normal.

When should you visit a gynecologist for vaginal discharge treatment?

A female should visit a gynecologist for vaginal discharge treatment if following symptoms are observed along with abnormal vaginal discharge-

  • fever

  • fatigue

  • unexplained weight loss

  • pain in the abdomen

  • increased urination

  • rashes or sores in the vagina or vulva

What is the treatment for abnormal vaginal discharge?

Abnormal vaginal discharge is often a sign of an infection or underlying medical condition. After proper diagnosis, the gynecologist may prescribe medications or ointments to treat the condition. Along with medication, maintaining personal hygiene and following the gynecologist’s advice is very important. Keep your vagina clean and dry and avoid scented soaps or other intimate products for the vagina.

How can you prevent

  • Avoid douching

  • Wear breathable cotton underwear

  • Do not use scented and foaming washes and soaps for your vagina or vulva.

  • Use condoms for sex, especially with new sexual partners

  • Limit your sexual partners

A healthy vagina is less likely to catch an infection and would prevent uncomfortable conditions like abnormal vaginal discharge, painful sex, pain while urinating, etc.

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