Vaginal discharge is often a normal and regular occurrence. There are various types of discharge which can indicate an infection. Abnormal discharge might be green or yellow, chunky in consistency or foul smelling.
Yeast or bacterial infection causes abnormal discharge. If you notice any discharge looks unusual or smells foul then you must see doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Types of vaginal discharge
There are various types of vaginal discharge. These types are based on their consistency and color. Some types of discharge are normal. Others indicate an underlying condition requires treatment.
A bit of white discharge especially at start or end of your menstrual cycle is normal. If discharge is accompanied by itching and has a thick, cottage cheese like consistency or appearance, its not normal and needs treatment. This type of discharge might be a sign of yeast infection.
Clear and watery
A clear and watery discharge is normal. It can occur at any time of month which may be due to heavy after excerise.
Clear and stretchy
When discharge is clear one but stretchy and mucous like then rather than watery which may indicate that you are ovulating. This is normal type of discharge.
Brown or bloody
Brown or bloody discharge is normal, especially when it occurs during or right after your menstrual cycle. Late discharge at the end of your period will look brown instead of read. You might also experience small amount of blood discharge between periods. This is called as spotting.
If spotting occurs during normal time of your period and you have recently had sex without protection which could be a sign of pregnancy. Spotting during early phase of pregnancy might be a sign of miscarriage so it must be discussed with your gynecologists.
At rare cases, bloody or brown discharge might be a sign of endometrial or cervical cancer. This could be other problems such as fibroids or any other abnormal growths. This is important to get a pelvic exam and Pap smear. Your gynecologist must check for cervical abnormalities during these procedures.
Yellow or green
A yellow or green discharge specially when its thick, chunky or accompanied by an unpleasant smell, isn’t normal. This type of discharge might be a sign of infection trichomoniasis. Its commonly spread through sexual intercourse.
Causes of vaginal discharge
Normal vaginal discharge is healthy body function. Its your bodys way of cleaning and protecting vagina. For instance, it’s normal for discharge to increase with sexual arousal and ovulation. Excerise, use of birth control pills and emotional stress which may also result in discharge.
Abnormal vaginal discharge, however, is usually caused by an infection.
Bacterial vaginosis is a common bacterial infection. It causes increased vaginal discharge that has a strong, foul and sometimes fishy odor, produces no symptoms in many cases. Women who receive oral sex or who have multiple sexual partners have an increased risk of this infection.
Trichomoniasis is another type of infection. Its caused by a protozoan or single celled organism. Infection is spread usually by sexual contact but it can also be contracted by sharing towels or bathing suits. It results in green or yellow discharge which has a foul odor. Pain, inflammation and itching and common symptoms, though some doesn’t experience any symptoms at all.
A yeast infection is one of the fungal infection produces white, cottage cheese like discharge addition to burning and itching sensations. Presence of yeast in vagina is normal but its growth can multiply out of control at certain situations. Following may increase your likelihood of yeast infections:
- use of birth control pills
- antibiotics, especially prolonged use over 10 days
Gonorrhea and chlamydia
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which can produce an abnormal discharge. It’s often yellow, greenish, or cloudy in color.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection which often spread by sexual contact. It occurs when bacteria spread up in the vagina and into other reproductive organs. It may produce a heavy, foul-smelling discharge.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) or cervical cancer
The human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is spread through sexual contact which can lead to cervical cancer. There may be no symptoms, this type of cancer can produce a bloody, brown, or watery discharge with an unpleasant odor. Cervical cancer can easily be screened for with yearly Pap smears and HPV testing
When to seek medical help
If you have unusual discharge with certain other symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. The symptoms to watch out for include:
- pain in the abdomen
- unexplained weight loss
- increased urination
If you have any concerns regarding whether a discharge is normal, make an appointment to see your doctor.
What to expect at a doctor’s appointment
When you see your doctor for abnormal vaginal discharge, you must get a physical exam, including pelvic exam. Your doctor also ask your several questions about your symptoms, your menstrual cycle and your sexual activity. Doctor cant diagnose problem immediately then you may order some tests. Your doctor may want to take scraping from your cervix to check for cervical cancer or HPV. Your discharge might also be examined under microscope to pinpoint an infectious agent. Once doctor tell you cause of discharge then you will be given treatment options.
Home care for vaginal discharge
To prevent infections, practice good hygiene and wear breathable cotton underwear. Don’t use douches as they can make discharge worse by removing useful bacteria. Practice safe sex and use protection to avoid STIs.