Causes and Symptoms of Your Discharge

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Vaginal discharge, which appears as a white or clear fluid, is a common occurrence. Some individuals get discharge on a daily basis, while others only have it on occasion. The vaginal discharge is made up of fluid and cells that are lost, and is necessary to maintain a healthy vagina by lubricating and preventing it from infection. The uterine cervix and vaginal walls both have glands that produce a little amount of fluid that helps keep the vagina clean. Normal vaginal discharge is usually thin, transparent, or milky white in colour with no odour.

During some stages of the menstrual cycle (such as ovulation), breastfeeding, or sexual arousal, vaginal discharge thickens. This brief thickening of the vaginal discharge is natural and has nothing to do with vaginal infection symptoms and signs. Depending on the stage of your menstrual cycle, the volume, colour, and consistency of your discharge may alter. However, discharge is not the same as menstrual blood. Below are some types of vaginal discharge -

Mucus from the cervix

The cervix produces a transparent or gel-like fluid that changes throughout the menstrual cycle or throughout pregnancy.

Arousal fluid

Arousal fluid

This fluid is produced when a person experiences sexual arousal, wherein the glands in and around the vagina produce this hormone. The fluid lubricates the vagina and normally dissipates an hour after stimulation.

Seminal fluid

This is a type that is found in the sperm and other bodily secretions of a male. In case of an intercourse, it may look as vaginal discharge since seminal fluid can linger in the vagina for hours after intercourse.

Other causes of discharge include atrophic vaginitis, cervical polyp, cervicitis, foreign body (forgotten tampon), hormonal changes, and chemicals from detergents, softeners, ointments, lotions, and contraceptive foams, which may irritate the skin around the vaginal area.

Symptoms of abnormal vaginal discharge include itching, burning, irritation and redness, along with urinary discomfort. When there is a serious medical condition, the symptoms are seen in the vaginal discharge, such as

  • An increase in the volume of vaginal discharge
  • An atypical odour or consistency of the fluid
  • Pain, itching, or burning that accompanies vaginal discharge
  • Cloudy, crimson and yellow vaginal discharge

Type of Abnormal Discharge

Cause of Discharge

Symptoms of Discharge

Bloody or brown Irregular menstrual cycle, cervical or endometrial cancer Abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain
Cloudy or yellow Gonorrhoea Bleeding between periods, urinary incontinence, pelvic pain
Frothy, greenish or yellow vaginal discharge with a bad smell Trichomoniasis Discomfort and itching while urinating
Pink Shedding of the uterine lining after childbirth (lochia)
Thick, white, cheesy Yeast infection Swelling and pain around the vulva, itching
White, grey, or yellow with fishy odour Bacterial vaginosis Itching or burning, redness and swelling of the vagina or vulva

Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

Causes and Symptoms of Your Discharge

Any alteration in the usual bacteria balance in the vaginal canal might impact the smell, colour, or texture of the discharge. Here are a few factors that can throw the equilibrium off, being a cause for abnormal vaginal discharge -

Bacterial vaginosis is a bacterial illness that is extremely common. Although it generates no symptoms in some cases, it causes increased vaginal discharge with a strong, foul, and sometimes fishy odour.

Cervical cancer is spread by sexual contact, and is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This form of malignancy can cause a red, dark, or watery discharge with an unpleasant odour, even if there are no symptoms.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia can cause an abnormal discharge. It has a yellow, greenish, or hazy appearance.

Douching, creams, perfumed soaps and bubble bath are other reasons for disrupting the balance.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a sexually transmitted infection that affects the female reproductive system. Bacteria spreads up the vaginal canal and into other reproductive organs, causing this condition. It may emit a foul-smelling, thick discharge.

Trichomoniasis is a parasite ailment spread through unprotected sexual contact.

The thinning and drying out of the vaginal wall after menopause is known as vaginal atrophy.

A yeast infection is a fungal infection that causes burning and itching as well as a cottage cheese-like, white vaginal discharge. The presence of yeast in the vaginal area is natural, but in some circumstances, its growth can become uncontrollable.

Being aware of the causes and symptoms of vaginal discharge will help you identify the normal from abnormal, and take necessary aid for the latter. Here are some tips to prevent abnormal discharge –

  • Wash the outside of the vagina with a gentle, mild soap and warm water to keep it clean. It is not necessary to apply soap directly to the vaginal area.
  • Do not use scented soaps, feminine hygiene products, or douche. Steer clear of feminine sprays and bubble baths.
  • Always wipe from front to back after using the restroom to prevent bacteria from entering the vaginal canal and creating an infection.
  • Wear cotton underwear, and avoid wearing apparel that is too tight.