Vaginal discharge serves an important housekeeping function in the female reproductive system. Fluid made by glands inside the vagina and cervix carry away dead cells and bacteria. This keeps the vagina clean and helps prevent infection.
Most of the time, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. The amount can vary, as can odor and color (which can range from clear to a milky whitish), depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. For example, there will be more discharge when you are ovulating, breastfeeding, or sexually aroused. It may smell different when you are pregnant, or you've been letting your personal hygiene slide. None of those changes is cause for alarm. However, if the color, smell, or consistency seems quite different than usual, especially if you also have vaginal itching or burning, you could be dealing with an infection or other condition.
What causes abnormal discharge?
- Antibiotic or steroid use
- Bacterial vaginosis, a bacterial infection more common in pregnant women or women who have multiple sexual partners
- Birth control pills
- Cervical cancer
- 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
- Yeast infections
Types of discharge:
- Thick, white discharge represents normal discharge. If you have other symptoms, such as itching, burning, and irritation consult a doctor right away.
- Yellow discharge is abnormal discharge. It is a sign of bacterial infection or sexually transmitted infection.
- Brown discharge may be caused my irregular period cycles. Sometimes brown discharge arises as a woman goes off or on her period. If brown discharge keeps appearing this could be a sign of cervical cancer.
- Green discharge is not normal. It is a sign of bacterial infection or sexually transmitted infection.
- Yeast infection discharge is a thick, white, cottage cheese like discharge, along with itching, redness, irritation and burning.
Tips to take heed:
- Keep the vagina clean by washing with a gentle, mild soap and warm water on the outside. There is no need to put soap directly in the vagina. Essence of Nature offers a vaginal wash, “WET” that is pH balanced for the vagina.
- Never use fragranced soaps and feminine products or douche. Also avoid feminine sprays and bubble baths with fragrances.
- 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.
Stay aware of changes in your body any abnormal behaviors. Seek medical attention; don’t prolong your doctor’s appointments; it can make matters worse.