Abnormal vaginal discharge is worrisome, but panic and worry do not solve anything. Do not stress yourself trying to figure it out on your own; visit your doctor because abnormal vaginal discharge can sometimes be a symptom of something serious.
Normal vaginal discharge is usually clear or white and looks yellowish when it dries. A normal vaginal discharge has a mild scent or no scent at all.
What could it be?
It is vital to understand that discharge related to your menstrual cycle is normal. There are a lot of mucus-secreting glands on the cervix. Under the influence of estrogen, these glands work like crazy. This means cervical mucus is abundant, watery, clear and slippery during ovulation. It looks like a raw egg white. This slippery watery mucus is essential for sperm entry.
After ovulation, cervical mucus turns thick and creamy. It may become whitish under the influence of progesterone, another female sex hormone. There is immense individual variation especially with regards to the amount of discharge. Some practically flood while other barely notice anything.
Infective vaginal discharge is not usually colorless or odorless. Candidiasis is a common fungal infection which presents as thick white creamy vaginal discharge, itchiness, superficial dyspareunia and burning pain. Anti-fungal creams set matters in order in no time.
Viral vulvovaginitis is another common condition seen in sexually active women. Vulvovaginits presents with painful sexual intercourse, excessive watery discharge and urinary symptoms. This condition is self-limiting and no treatment other than good personal hygiene is needed.
Atrophic cervicitis and vulvovaginitis are common among post-menopausal women. Hormone replacement therapy relieves this as well as a whole host of other post-menopausal conditions. Topical preparations and systemic treatments are available.
Clear vaginal discharge may be the only symptom of cervical cancer. All clear vaginal discharge in women between 35 and 65 years of age should be investigated extensively. Women in the mentioned age group should undergo regular Pap smears. Pap smears detect precancerous conditions of the cervix. Becoming sexually active at a younger age, multiple sexual partners, promiscuous male partners, a family history of cervical cancer, smoking, HIV infection, and HPV infection increase the risk of cervical cancer.
Once spread in the pelvis, it necessitates more radical surgery and chemotherapy and radiotherapy should follow. Prognosis depends on the stage of the cancer.
Pregnancy is another physiological condition where vaginal discharge is so common. Early pregnancy is not usually associated with excessive vaginal discharge. As pregnancy progresses, vaginal discharge also increases. At the end of pregnancy, the cervical mucus plugs comes loose and heralds delivery. Spontaneous rupture of membranes presents as dribbling. Get yourself to the nearest hospital because the baby follows soon afterwards.
What can you do?
Be mindful of your menstrual cycle and its phases. If in doubt, consult your gynecologist. Practice safe sex with a trusted partner. Get yourself and your partner checked for STDs. Regular health checks with gynecological review are essential.
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