What is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is a combination of fluid and cells continuously shed through your vagina. The fluids produced in the vaginal glands and cervix carry dead cells and bacteria. They serve to keep your vagina clean and help prevent infection.
Vaginal discharge is most often a normal and regular occurrence. The production of vaginal discharge can vary (different smells and colours — usually clear or milky white), depending on the stage of your menstrual cycle.
Your vagina may produce more amounts of fluids when you are ovulating, breastfeeding, or sexually aroused. Your vaginal discharge might smell differently when you are pregnant or you do not maintain the hygiene of your vaginal area.
There is nothing to worry about when you have a vaginal discharge as it is a regular occurrence. However, if the color, smell, or consistency is different than usual (abnormal), particularly if you also have symptoms of itching or burning in the vaginal area — this could mean that you have an infection or other problems.
You can consult a gynecologist to identify the main cause and determine the best treatment using Smarter Health’s services.
Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Any change in the vagina’s balance of normal bacteria can affect the smell, color, or discharge texture. Several factors that can upset that balance include:
- Birth control pills
- Yeast infections
- Cervical cancer
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Antibiotic or steroid use
- Pelvic infection after surgery
- Vaginitis, irritation in or around the vagina
- Chlamydia or gonorrhea (STDs), sexually transmitted infections
- Douches, scented soaps or lotions, bubble bath
- Vaginal atrophy, the thinning and drying out of the vaginal walls during menopause
- Trichomoniasis, a parasitic infection typically contracted and caused by having unprotected sex
- Bacterial vaginosis, a bacterial infection that commonly occurs in pregnant women or women who have multiple sexual partners
When to See a Doctor for Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
To identify the cause of vaginal discharge, a gynaecologist will review your medical history and ask a number of questions regarding symptoms experienced. These questions may include:
- When did the abnormal discharge begin?
- What color is the discharge?
- Is there any smell?
- Do you have any itching, pain, or burning in or around the vagina?
- Do you have more than one sexual partner?
- Do you use douche?
Your doctor may take a sample from the discharge or perform a pap smear test to collect cells from the cervix for further examination.
Symptoms of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Symptoms of abnormal vaginal discharge can be indicated from the color and texture, such as:
- Bloody or brown. This may be due to irregular menstrual cycles or less frequent, cervical or endometrial cancer, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and pelvic pain.
- Yellowish. This may indicate gonorrhea, bleeding between menstrual periods, urinary incontinence, and pelvic pain.
- Foamy, yellow or green discharge with a foul smell. This may indicate trichomoniasis with symptoms of pain and itching when urinating.
- Pink. This may indicate shedding of the uterine lining after childbirth or postpartum bleeding (lochia).
Treatment for Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
The treatments recommended by your doctor may vary, depending on the cause of your abnormal vaginal discharge
Abnormal discharge caused by yeast infection can usually be treated with medications inserted into your vagina. Yeast infections can also be treated with oral medications.
If you have frequent yeast infections, your doctor may recommend that you take over-the-counter medications. If you have any further questions about the causes of vaginal discharge, do not hesitate to ask your doctor. There are many factors apart from a yeast infection that may cause vaginal discharge
Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with antibiotics (usually given in pills form)
Trichomoniasis can usually be treated by taking oral antibiotics.
Should Your Sexual Partner Also Undergo Treatment?
In certain conditions, it is advised that your partner also goes through similar treatment. Talk with your doctor regarding the procedure. You may also need to avoid having sex or using a condom until the treatment is complete.
Abnormal vaginal discharge can be completely treated properly. However, abnormal vaginal discharge may recur if there is a trigger. Most cases of vaginal discharge experienced are caused by yeast infections. Vaginosis may also recur in the future.
In order to prevent the appearance of abnormal vaginal discharge in the future, you can talk to your gynecologist. Moreover, you may need a longer treatment.
Treatment Cost for Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Treatment costs required for abnormal vaginal discharge may vary — depending on the treatment plan recommended by your doctor.
For more details regarding the cost estimation for vaginal discharge treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
To prevent infections or abnormal vaginal discharge, you can do the following:
- Avoid using sprays to clean your vagina, deodorant pads or tampons, and bubble baths.
- Change your detergent if it can cause irritation.
- Avoid bathing in hot tubs.
- Take a shower daily and gently dry your vagina
- Avoid using douches.
- Wear breathable cotton underwear during the day.
- Avoid wearing tight pants, swimwear, cycling shorts, or leotards for long periods of time.
- Always wipe from the front to the back after using the bathroom. This is done to prevent bacteria from entering your vagina
- Latex and spermicide in condoms can cause irritation. You should talk to your doctor about finding other types of contraception.
Home Remedies for Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding home-care treatment for vaginal discharge. To prevent infections, practice good hygiene and wear breathable cotton underwear for optimal circulation. Do not use douches, as they will only make vaginal discharge worse by eliminating useful bacteria.
If you want to have sex with your partner, be sure to practice safe sex and use protection to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.
To lower your risk of getting yeast infections when taking antibiotics recommended by your doctor, it is recommended that you eat yogurt. If you know you have a yeast infection, you can treat it with an over-the-counter yeast infection cream or suppository.
Have questions about abnormal vaginal discharge? Write in the comment section below or contact a gynecologist using Smarter Health’s teleconsultation services.
Smarter Health is ready to help you find hospital recommendations, specialist doctors, book doctor appointments, and calculate the estimated treatment cost whenever you need it.