Vaginal Discharge - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Vaginal discharge plays an important role in maintaining the health of a female reproductive system. It carries away all the bacteria, viruses, and dead cells that the cervix or vagina produces. It helps in keeping your reproductive system clean. But when sometimes, bacterial or viral growth occurs in the female reproductive system, it can serve as an indicator of a disease or an infection. 


Vaginal discharge is a condition in which your vagina releases a white or clear watery substance that arises from the uterus, cervix, or vagina. It is a normal condition. But the color and consistency of the vaginal discharge can indicate infection at times. A clear discharge often occurs at different times of the menstrual cycle. But if it is white, frothy, green, crunchy, and has a foul odor, it may be an indication of an infection. 


The amount of vaginal discharge varies from person to person. One woman may have a lot of it, while some have a little. The normal amount is dependent upon you, it can be gauged how much were you having previously and what is the quantity now. The normal amount differs from one woman to another. 



Symptoms 


Vaginal discharge when occurs due to an infection may show the following signs and symptoms;


  • Vaginal itching

  • Swelling of the vagina

  • Has a foul odor

  • Has a different color like green, yellow, or gray 

  • Looks foamy or like cottage cheese in appearance


Along with it, the vaginal infection causes pain in the pelvis and when it becomes severe, it may cause fever. If you have a complaint of vaginal discharge, accompanied by fever and pelvic pain, you must consult with the doctor soon. 



Causes 


The main causes of a vaginal discharge can be;


  • Using medicines like antibiotics or steroids that provoke bacterial growth in the female reproductive system 

  • Bacterial vaginosis- a bacterial infection 

  • Using contraceptives/birth control pills

  • Cervical cancer

  • Sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia or gonorrhea (STDs)

  • Having diabetes

  • Using douches, scented soaps or lotions, bubble bath

  • Having pelvic infection after surgery

  • Having pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or its history 

  • Trichomoniasis, a parasitic infection that occurs due to having an unprotected sex

  • Vaginal atrophy-a condition in which thinning and drying out of the vaginal walls occurs after menopause due to low levels of estrogen

  • Vaginitis-a condition in which inflammation of the vagina occurs that also causes its irritation 

  • Yeast infections of the vagina 



Treatment 


The treatment for vaginal discharge depends on the underlying condition. If upon evaluation it seems to be normal, then your healthcare providers would not prescribe anything. If it occurs due to a bacterial infection, they will prescribe antibiotics like amoxicillin or cefepime. If the vaginal discharge indicates a fungal infection, the healthcare providers may prescribe topical antifungal ointment. However is it is severe, they may ask you to take oral antifungal drugs. Vaginal infection that occurs due to protozoa like Trichominiansis can be treated with a drug like metronidazole. Other tips to keep your vagina healthy are;


  • Wash your vagina with antibacterial soap and warm water from the outside. Do not put it inside. 

  • Avoid using feminine sprays, scented sprays, and douches.

  • When you use the bathroom, always wipe from front to back. Do not wipe from back to front as it increases the chances of getting bacteria of the bowel into your vagina or urethra, which eventually causes infections. 

  • Avoid wearing tight clothing. Wear loose clothing through which air can pass.

  • After using the bathroom dry yourself with a clean towel. Keeping it wet may increase the chances of infection. 

  • During periods, keep changing your sanitary pads frequently. Do not use the same pad for a long time. 

  • Wear pure cotton underpants. 


Conclusion 


Vaginal discharge is a condition in which your vagina discharges a white or clear watery substance that arises from the uterus, cervix, or vagina. It a normal condition. But the color and consistency of the vaginal discharge can indicate infection at times. The treatment for vaginal discharge depends on the underlying condition. If upon evaluation it seems to be normal, then your healthcare providers would not prescribe anything.


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