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Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharges are any fluid or material that leaves a female’s body through the vagina. Some vaginal discharge is normal for all women, especially those in their reproductive years (ages 16 to 45). When the amount, quality or consistency of vaginal discharge changes, it may be a sign of disease. The fluids, chemicals and organisms of the vagina have a natural balance. In the balance situation, they help to clean the vagina and protect it from outside organisms. Any change to that natural balance can affect the characteristics of vaginal discharge. Changes may originate from both internal factors (such as hormonal changes & stress) or external factors (such as infection & poor hygiene).

Normal Discharge

Normal vaginal discharge is clear or white with no bad odor. It has regular fluctuations that result from hormonal. The normally clear and thin fluid becomes a bit thicker and heavier at the time of ovulation. Sexual excitement increases vaginal discharge. It also changes during pregnancy, at menopause and when a woman uses birth control pills.

Unusual Discharge (Vaginal Infection)

Change in the color, odor or consistency of vaginal discharge may indicate an infection. Yeast infections, where the volume of regular vaginal yeast increases, cause a thick, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese. Other vaginal infections (sometimes grouped as vaginitis) like trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis can cause other changes to vaginal discharge, such as changes in amount, color and odor.

Sexually transmitted diseases may also be associated with unusual vaginal discharge, but frequently have no symptoms. In addition, altered vaginal discharge may be the result of personal behaviors or habits that can affect the vaginal environment. These include douching and wearing tight clothing that restricts air flow to the vagina.

If your vaginal discharge is abnormal in color such as green, has a foul smell, changes consistency, or is significantly increased or decreased in amount, you may be developing a form of vaginitis.

1. Bacterial vaginosis (bacterial vaginosis) causes an abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor. Some women report a strong fishlike smell, especially after intercourse. The discharge is usually white or gray, it can be thin. You may also have burning during urination or itching around the outside of the vagina, or both. Some women with bacterial vaginosis have no symptoms at all.

2. Yeast infections or candidiasis cause a thick, whitish-gray "cottage cheese" type of vaginal discharge and may be itchy. You may have intense itching in your genitals. Painful urination and intercourse are common. You may not always have a vaginal discharge. Men with genital candidiasis may have an itchy rash on the penis. Most male partners of women with yeast infection do not experience any symptoms of the infection.

3. Trichomoniasis causes a frothy vaginal discharge that may be yellow-green or gray, itching and irritation of the genitals, burning with urination (sometimes confused with a urinary tract infection), discomfort during intercourse, and a foul smell. Because trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease, symptoms may appear within 4-20 days after exposure. Men rarely have symptoms, but if they do, they may have a thin, whitish discharge from the penis and painful or difficult urination.

4. Pain itself is not a frequent symptom (except for the itching) and should prompt you to see your health care provider.

5. If you have a condition called vulvodynia, you may have burning, stinging, irritation, or rawness of your genitalia but no infection or skin disease of the vulva or vagina. You may have pain, off and on. This is a different condition that requires further diagnosis with your health care provider.

Symptoms Of Vaginal Discharge

Symptoms that may accompany vaginal discharge include painful urination, itching, pelvic pain or rash. Sudden change in vaginal discharge should be reported to a physician, preferably a gynecologist. If there is infection, it can be treated and the vaginal discharge should return to normal levels Girls may begin to notice some vaginal discharge up to a year before their first menstrual period. Those not yet nearing puberty who experience vaginal discharge should see a physician immediately, because discharge is rare in healthy prepubescent girls.

Summary Of The Symptoms for Vaginal Discharge include:

1. Itching

2. Rash

3. Pelvic pain

4. Unusual odor

5. Pain or burning during urination (dysuria) or bowel movements (dyschezia)

6. Fever

7. Warts or lesions

8. Non-menstrual vaginal bleeding

Prevention Of Vaginal Infection

The following tips may help you prevent a vaginal infection.

1. If you think your frequent vaginal infections may be related to using a diaphragm, spermicidal foam or jelly, or condoms, discuss other birth control options with your doctor.

2. Wipe from front to back after using the toilet, to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the vagina.

3. Wash the vaginal area once a day with plain water or a mild, nonperfumed soap. Do not use bubble bath. Rinse well and dry thoroughly.

4. Change tampons at least 3 times a day during your period, or alternate tampons with pads. Remember to remove the last tampon used during your period.

5. Wear cotton underwear and avoid clothes that fit tightly, such as tight-fitting jeans. Cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing help prevent the vaginal area from staying warm and moist, which can promote the growth of yeast cells. Tight-fitting clothes may cause skin irritation leading to a rash.

6. Remove wet bathing suits and exercise clothing promptly.

7. Avoid douching.

8. Avoid the use of feminine deodorant sprays and other perfumed products. They may cause genital skin irritation or an allergic reaction.

9. Having multiple sex partners and not using condoms can increase your risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which may increase your risk of a vaginal infection.

10. Urinate after sex, and rinse your vaginal area with cool water.

11. Limit intense exercise, such as bike riding or horseback riding, that can irritate the vulva.

12. If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar in good control.

Take antibiotics when needed, but avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics. Taking antibiotics exposes you to the risks of allergic reactions and antibiotic side effects (such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and yeast infections). Also, antibiotics may kill good bacteria.

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