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Vaginal discharge: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About vaginal discharge

Vaginal discharge, refers to the secretions from vagina, is normal and varies during menstrual cycle. It is present especially in women of childbearing age.

The amount and consistency of discharge varies with every phase of menstrual cycle. The amount of both in turn, depend upon the hormone levels in the body.

Vaginal discharge that is abnormal in colour, odour, or consistency may indicate an underlying problem like an infection.

Vaginal discharge: Incidence, age and sex

Vaginal discharge is mainly seen in women of child-bearing age. It is a normal physiological phenomenon but may also occur with variance in colour, discharge and consistency in case of sexually transmitted diseases and certain gynaecological problems.

Signs and symptoms of vaginal discharge: Diagnosis

The vaginal discharge can be normal or abnormal and may be established on the basis of its consistency, colour and odour. The vaginal discharge may vary in consistency (thick or thin or watery), colour (clear, cloudy, white, yellow, green) and odour (normal smell, odourless, foul odour). In cases of abnormal discharge, there also may be accompanying vaginal pain or discomfort and itching.

Causes and prevention of vaginal discharge

Vaginal discharge depends upon the hormone called oestrogen which is produced in women by the ovaries. It can increase when there is emotional stress, ovulation (the production and release of an egg from your ovary in the middle of the menstrual cycle – by 14th day if the cycle is regular at 28 days), pregnancy and sexual excitement. At these times, the discharge is normal.

Abnormal vaginal discharge may occur due to various disorders like atrophic vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis, cervical or vaginal cancer, chlamydial infection, lichen planus, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, and vaginal yeast infection.

Genital area should be kept clean and dry, to prevent any kind of vaginal infection. It is best to wear cotton underwear and not underwear made of silk or nylon, because these materials are not absorbent and may increase sweating in the genital area.

Vaginal discharge: Complications

One may not seek medical attention for abnormal vaginal discharge, considering that it is normal. In that case, the underlying disease is left undiagnosed and may deteriorate further.

Vaginal discharge: Treatment

The treatment of abnormal vaginal discharge depends upon the underlying cause. Use of an over-the-counter yeast infection treatment cream is recommended for yeast infection. It is best to eat yogurt with live cultures or Lactobacillus acidophilus tablets when on antibiotic treatment to avoid yeast infection. Bacterial vaginal infections which lead to smelly discharge, are treated with antibiotics. Conditions (as discussed above) in which there is abnormal vaginal discharge need to be detected and treated accordingly.