I might be going ahead of myself here when I use the argument that women should be able to talk freely about the problems they face in the 21st century. Not saying it is wrong, just that there are still things that even the most confident of women cringe before talking about. One of them, which this blog is about is vaginal discharge.
Many of us feel awkward because there are just too many taboos surrounding talking about your vagina, that vaginal discharge is territory better left unchartered. However, in order to make sure that we identify any health problem that we have before it becomes way too serious, the conversation needs to begin. Thus, here’s blog to help you understand kinds of vaginal discharge and whether you need to be worried or not.
What is Vaginal Discharge?
Our vagina (not vulva) has a self-cleaning mechanism which renders the need to clean it with water, unnecessary. This cleansing is done by discharging a fluid-like substance that carried unnecessary bacteria and other foreign particles out of the body. This fluid-like substance is what we call vaginal discharge. The vaginal discharge fluid is produced inside the vagina and the cervix and helps prevent infections in the reproductive system of the females. Depending on the phase of your menstrual cycle, the consistency and color of the discharge can vary.
Being a cleansing mechanism for the vagina, most of the time vaginal discharge is normal. Ovulation, breastfeeding, pregnancy, and sexual arousal can cause abrupt changes to the vaginal discharge. However, none of this is a cause for concern as long as the fluid remains between the clear to a milky-white range. Yet, there are a few signs that you need to look out for. Sometimes you might see your vaginal discharge might take a different color. Each of these changes that you might notice signify something out-of-the-ordinary is happening in your reproductive system. Below are some of these color changes of the vaginal discharge and what they signify.
Clear to Milky-white Discharge
Like I said earlier, this is the sign of a normally functioning vagina. Prior to and during ovulation, the vaginal discharge starts getting released more than it usually does. This is mainly an indication by your ovaries of the upcoming ovulation. Thus, it is an important indicator for women who are planning on getting pregnant and a warning for others of the possibility of the same. Unless you feel itching, burning or some other form of irritation accompanying the discharge, there is no cause for concern here. Keep an eye out for the odor as well. A bad odor is a sign of some sort of infection or other irregular feature in your system.
Brown or Bloody Discharge
If it’s about to be that time of the month, or if you have just gotten off your period, this is just a sign of the residual blood leaving your body. No cause for concern if this kind of vaginal discharge is visible around this time. However, if a brown or blood-stained vaginal discharge has become a regular feature then you need to see a gynecologist. By regular feature I mean if this is happening mid-menstrual cycle.
The possible reasons for you to see this kind of a discharge is very wide. This can be because of an infection in the vagina, an ovarian cyst, a lost tampon, breakthrough bleeding on the pill, polyps in the uterus or pregnancy. This makes it even more important for you to go see a gynecologist to be certain of what it is that is causing this irregular occurrence. Even if you see a blood-stained discharge, mid-cycle for the first time, don’t leave yourself in the dark. The sooner you have the answers, the better.
Yellow or Green Discharge
When the clear or milky-white vaginal discharge comes in contact with air it takes on a light yellowish tinge. It becomes a cause for concern when this discharge takes on a deep yellow or green, thick discharge. They can be an indication of an infection or a sexually transmitted disease. A yellow or a greenish-yellow vaginal discharge can be indications of STDs like trichomoniasis orgonorrhea and need your immediate attention. It needs to be noted that this can be an indication of chlamydia as well, but it is not always indicated with symptoms as clear as that, so, you can never be sure whether you have it or not. If the micro-organisms inside your vagina have contracted an infection, then that can lead to a greenish, frothy discharge.
These kinds of bacterial infections are not as serious as an STD but that is no reason to not see your gynecologist as early as possible. The good news is, these can be easily treated.
A yeast infection in your vagina is indicated by a discharge that is lumpy and white, almost cottage-cheese like vaginal discharge. Heavy growth of fungus in your vagina is one of the major causes of yeast infections which lead to this kind of a discharge. The discharge is accompanied by itchiness, redness, burning and irritating sensation which are some more indicators of this kind of an infection. Again, this is not something very alarming as these infections are not contagious.
The gynecologist will recommend an anti-fungal cream or pills that can treat this very easily. Some precautions to prevent this kind of infection all together includes not using scented bathing soaps, ensuring that moisture is not collected around the vagina, and wearing 100% cotton underwear. It is recommended that you go commando whenever you can. If this kind of vaginal discharge is seen often, then you need to get in touch with your gynecologist about the same.
Watery or Lighter-than-usual Discharge
When you are at the beginning of your next menstrual cycle, the vaginal discharge can take either watery or lighter form. However, regular or mid-cycle watery discharge can be an indication of Herpes. However, if herpes is the case then vaginal discharge is not your problem. The blisters cause on the inside release watery substance when they burst. If you see something along those lines, let it be the reason to pay the gynecologist a visit. On the other hand, a lighter discharge can be an indicator of the end of your reproductive cycle. If you are in your 40s (even 30s in some cases) then a lighter, watery, vaginal discharge can be an indication of perimenopause, the phase of transition to menopause. Either way, if this is accompanied by other signs of irritation, then you should see a gynecologist immediately.
Women in India need to realize the importance of regular visits to the gynecologists. While these indications can help you assess the need for the same, regular check-ups always give you an edge over any health problems you might face in the future. As you have noticed already, vaginal discharge is not simply a cleaning mechanism for your vagina but also an indicator of the health of your lady-parts. It is very important to stay vigilant and live hygienically to prevent any problem related to your reproductive organs. There is a chance that you might not have any vaginal discharge at all and that is a completely normal sign as well. As long as you don’t notice anything out-of-the-ordinary, things will be happy and healthy.