What is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is a regular occurrence as the glands within the vagina and cervix naturally produce fluid or mucus to cleanse the area, ward off infections, and maintain vaginal hygiene.
You may observe varying types of vaginal discharge throughout your menstrual cycle, which is normal. The colour, texture, and quantity of release can change during different stages of your cycle. Some days, it may appear milky white, while others might be clear, watery, thick, sticky, or slippery.
Nevertheless, if the natural equilibrium of vaginal flora is disrupted, it can lead to changes in vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge can be altered under various circumstances, including:
- Commencing a new form of birth control
- Experiencing sexual arousal
- Taking antibiotics or steroids
- Using new scented soap, bubble bath, or engaging in douching.
Alternatively, these changes in vaginal discharge may indicate an underlying health issue, which we will discuss further. You should consult a physician if you observe differences in colour, odour, or texture that deviate from your usual experience.
Furthermore, if you experience additional symptoms like a burning sensation or itching, seeking medical guidance is essential, as these symptoms could indicate an infection, such as yeast or bacterial infection.
What can Vaginal Discharge be a symptom of?
Vaginal discharge can be indicative of various underlying conditions, with some of the most common ones being:
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV):
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by disrupting the normal bacterial flora in the vagina. This result is a discharge that may be white, grey or yellow, often accompanied by a distinct fishy smell. The cause of the disruption is unknown.
If the discharge appears thick and white, resembling the texture of cottage cheese, it may indicate a potential case of thrush.
Chlamydia is a frequently transmitted sexually transmitted infection acquired through unprotected sexual activity. In women, it doesn't consistently display noticeable symptoms, but increased vaginal discharge and the presence of pelvic pain or bleeding may occur.
Gonorrhoea is typically transmitted through sexual contact between partners, although newborns can contract it during birth if the mother is infected. During the initial stages, it often exhibits minimal or no symptoms. However, as the infection progresses, individuals may notice an uptick in vaginal discharge and experience a burning or itching sensation during urination.
This infection occurs due to excessive yeast proliferation in the vaginal area. Typically, symptoms are mild and may involve itching and a burning feeling. A typical indicator is a thick, white, and odourless discharge, often resembling the texture of cottage cheese.
This is a rare cause of abnormal vaginal discharge, but if it is brown or has blood in it and you don't usually spot between your periods, it could be a sign of cervical or endometrial cancer.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
When experiencing substantial discharge accompanied by an unpleasant odour, additional symptoms like lower abdominal and pelvic discomfort, pain or bleeding during or after sexual activity, and pain during urination may indicate Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
If your vaginal discharge appears yellowish-green, has a frothy texture, and emits a strong odour, it might be a symptom of this sexually transmitted infection.
However, it's essential to note that these conditions do not encompass all potential causes of unusual vaginal discharge. If you have concerns, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional.
What should you do if you have Vaginal Discharge?
If you suspect that there's a factor contributing to your unusual vaginal discharge, it's advisable to seek medical attention. When you consult a doctor, they will discuss your symptoms and assess whether there's an underlying cause for the observed changes.
This assessment may involve inquiries about your sexual health and medical history.
Providing your doctor with comprehensive information is essential to aid in identifying the issue. You should be able to share details about the specific changes in your discharge and any accompanying symptoms you may be experiencing.
How to get rid of smelly Vaginal Discharge?
The odour you've detected might not necessarily stem from an infection or any other underlying condition; sometimes, it can occur temporarily. There are several steps you can take to address and eliminate an odour:
- Maintain regular hygiene practices.
- Opt for loose-fitting clothing.
- Choose cotton underwear.
- Avoid using harsh soaps or other products in the vaginal area.
- Change your clothes after exercising.
- Consider using over-the-counter products designed to balance vaginal pH levels.
We previously mentioned that certain soaps or products on your vaginal area can disrupt the delicate bacterial balance. If you notice changes in your vaginal discharge after using a new product, discontinuing its use might help resolve the issue.
It's important to note that antibiotics and steroids can also impact vaginal discharge. If you've started a course of these medications and notice changes, the issue should typically be resolved once you've completed the treatment.
If you have any concerns or are uneasy about the changes you're observing, seeking medical advice is a prudent course of action. You are the best judge of your body, so if something doesn't feel right, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
How can Mobi Doctor help?
You can see a doctor about your vaginal discharge at a time that suits you. Our doctors at Mobi Doctor are available seven days a week and can offer you the advice, diagnosis and treatment you may need. They can also refer you to a specialist for further investigation or treatment.