Vaginal Discharge and Your Health
Vaginal discharge is normally clear and its texture is similar to that of egg whites. If its appearance changes, it's likely that you have an infection and need to see a specialist.
Vaginal discharge is a part of feminine intimacy, and although it can be bothersome at times, it carries out important functions like cleaning and moistening the vagina, in addition to creating a protective barrier to fight and prevent different types of infections.
The amount, color, and texture varies from woman to woman, and all depends on hormonal changes and the way the cervix and vaginal glands work to transport this liquid outside the body.
As women, it’s really important to be aware that the presence of vaginal discharge doesn’t always indicate an infection and is something normal and nothing to be embarrassed about. To be clear, however, changes in the normal appearance of vaginal discharge may indicate a problem.
What types of changes in vaginal discharge should I be aware of?
The majority of changes in vaginal discharge are a sign that there is some type of infection, either fungal, viral or bacterial, or even a sexually transmitted disease. When these changes start to appear, they’re often accompanied by other symptoms, warning you that there is a problem.
It’s important to know which changes to vaginal discharge are taking place in order to treat the infection or illness as soon as possible.
Generally, vaginal discharge is considered abnormal when there is:
- A change in odor (especially if it is unpleasant).
- A change in color (especially if greenish, grayish or looks like pus).
- A change in texture (bubbly or similar in appearance to cottage cheese).
- Itching, burning, swelling or redness.
- Vaginal bleeding not associated with the menstrual cycle.
For a better idea of the health problems that vaginal discharge can indicate, we will go over the changes you may experience and the type of diseases responsible according to the color of the discharge and other symptoms.
Natural changes in vaginal discharge
In the first part of the menstrual cycle, just before ovulation, the vaginal discharge is clear and its texture is similar to that of egg whites. The presence of this discharge indicates fertility is at its peak.
Before menstruation, the second stage of the cycle, the discharge is thick, less abundant and sticky.
If the color has changed to white and is thick and lumpy, like sour milk, it’s likely that you’re suffering from a fungal infection caused by candida.
This type of change is often accompanied by vaginal itching and the discharge stops sticking to the vaginal walls.
Although infection can occur during any part of the cycle, it often increases during the pre-menstrual period.
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This type of discharge is caused by intestinal parasites, the most common being trichomonas that are sexually transmitted.
The infection causes a discharge that varies in color between green and yellow and is accompanied by a strong odor, vaginal itching, and pain during urination.
The problem often strikes in the days after menstruation, causing the vulva to become irritated and painful. In addition, coitus can cause a strong odor.
A gray discharge is caused by a type of bacterial infection generally attributed to the gardnerella microbe and is transmitted sexually.
This discharge is characterized by a strong foul-smelling odor, similar to fish, that is thick and abundant.
Gardenella is related to other anaerobic germs and causes what many experts consider an ecological catastrophe in the vagina which requires immediate medical attention.
Keeping these types of changes in mind is really important, especially if you are sexually active.
Changes in vaginal discharge can be a clear symptom of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that must be treated immediately before it becomes a major problem.
However, you shouldn’t make conclusions based on appearance alone, as the changes could be caused by other factors. It’s important to remember these changes that can alert you when it’s time to see your doctor.