Vaginal discharge is a woman’s way of cleaning and flushing out cells from her reproductive organs. But the nature of discharge can sometimes indicate a health problem.
The perception on vaginal discharge can be very polarised. While some people, especially teens, can find it strange and can even get worked up about it, others get used to it as a common occurrence. A woman’s body flushes out fluids and cells through discharge from the vagina. Production of discharge can start a few months before your menstrual cycle and thin out after menopause.
This discharge is nothing, but a mucus secreted by the glands present in your cervix. The fluid includes secretions from the Bartholin’s glands and the endometrium. It contains a large number of bacteria and dead cells that are present around the cervix. Some bacteria inside this fluid are beneficial as they prevent pathogenic bacteria from multiplying. It also maintains the acidic pH balance around the vagina.
Vaginal discharge in women can vary in a lot of ways including factors like appearance and consistency. There are aspects that can influence your discharge such as your menstrual cycle and change in hormonal levels or pregnancy. Other influencers are your stress levels or change in exercising routine. So, your discharge can change with or even without it being a cause of concern. Hence, it is all the more difficult to figure out whether you should pay attention to it or not.
Here is everything you need to know about what that stain in your underwear is trying to indicate to you. Though this is considered normal, sometimes, the type of discharge may mean that you require medical attention. In that case, consult your doctor immediately.
HOW MUCH IS NORMAL?
Firstly, to clarify, the presence of this sticky substance itself is normal. The amount can vary and there is no set amount that is considered normal. A healthy woman’s body generally produces about 4 ml of vaginal discharge just within a day. The amount can be more or it can be less than that without it indicating some kind of problem. Remember that the amount of vaginal discharge can go up significantly during ovulation, pregnancy, and even after having oral contraceptives.
TYPES OF VAGINAL DISCHARGE AND WHAT THEY INDICATE
Vaginal discharges can be of many types, some normal and some that may raise concerns. Here, we speak about the different discharges based on their consistency, smell, and color.
Thick and white discharge
Thick and white discharge is normal. It can be somewhat milky in color and can generally be seen during the beginning or at the end of your menstrual cycle.
However, if the consistency is thick and similar to cottage cheese and is accompanied by itching, burning, irritation or redness, it is a cause of concern. These symptoms may indicate yeast infection, which is a common vaginal infection. It occurs due to an overgrowth of fungus around your intimate area. It is not contagious. Anti-fungal creams can treat this condition. You can but these creams easily from chemist shops.
Clear and watery or stretchy discharge
Clear and watery discharge is quite normal. It can occur at almost any time of the month and can be heavier after exercise.
Clear and stretchy discharge indicates ovulating, which generally occurs during the later phase of the menstrual cycle. You can recognize this type if the fluid stretches between your fingertips. The more the stretch holds between your fingertips, the more fertile you are.
Brown or bloody discharge
This type of discharge usually occurs if you have irregular periods. Dark red or brown discharges can be signs of leftover blood during the end of your periods. This is called spotting. This can also indicate pregnancy if you have had sex without protection. But if this happens in the early stages of your pregnancy, it can be a sign of miscarriage.
This type of discharge can also be breakthrough bleeding, which happens just after you start taking oral contraceptive pills. In rare cases, this type of discharge can be endometrial or cervical cancer.
Producing pinkish discharge is normal just before your periods. A part of your endometrial lining might be slowly shedding off, which indicates that your period is near. However, you may be pregnant if it kind of discharge is not before your periods.
Yellow or green discharge
This kind of discharge is not normal. It can have a thick and chunky consistency while being accompanied by an unpleasant smell. This can be indicative of bacterial infection or sexually transmitted infection. These infections can include trichomoniasis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea. Other symptoms can include pelvic pain and burning while urinating. This condition can occasionally also be followed by pain, inflammation, or itching. But, it is possible for a lot of women to have no symptoms at all. This makes this condition harder to spot. If you are experiencing this kind of discharge, you must consult your doctor. Antibiotics may be required, but the decision rests with your doctor.
Thin and grey discharge
If you are experiencing thin and grey discharge, accompanied by a strong, foul, and fishy smell, it indicates bacterial vaginosis. This condition can be recognized by the very definitive odor from your discharge. Bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal infections that women suffer from. Though it is not yet very clear why it happens, it could be due to disturbance of the bacterial balance of your vagina. People who have oral sex or multiple partners are more at risk of getting this condition. It can be cured easily with the help of prescribed medications once the condition is diagnosed.