Vaginal health is not less than a math equation. After all, it has a lot of tasks to complete. From monthly menstruation, self-cleansing and sexual activity, the vagina plays a significant roles in women’s life. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that a woman’s vagina is a window into sexual health. When it comes to this, vaginal discharge is an important giveaway, yet we hardly pay any attention to it.
Since the quantity and types of vaginal discharge vary from woman to woman and time to time, many people find it challenging to distinguish between what’s normal and abnormal. To know the answer, let us first know the various causes of vaginal discharge.
Health Shots reached out to Dr Shefali Tyagi, Consultant-Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Motherhood Hospital, Sarjapur, Bengaluru, to find out more about vaginal discharge.
What is vaginal discharge?
Vaginal discharge is a clear fluid or mucus which comes out of the vagina. It is normal for women to experience vaginal discharge as it is produced by organs like the uterus, cervix and vagina.
Is vaginal discharge normal?
Normal discharge is clear and white and is a sign of a healthy vagina. Dr Tyagi says, “It can be odourless or have a smell, but it’s usually mild. In the female reproductive system, the fluid is made by glands within the vagina and cervix. It helps to cleanse the dead cells and bacteria, preventing infection.” The vaginal discharge also adds lubrication during intercourse.
When is vaginal discharge abnormal?
If you notice any changes in the amount, consistency and colour of the discharge, it needs to be checked by a doctor. Symptoms to be watched out for includes:
- Increase in the quantity of the discharge
- Foul odour or smell
- Changes in texture and consistency
- Change in colour
- Itching or pain around your in and around your vagina.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, consult a specialist to understand the cause. It could indicate a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted infection that will require medical treatment. But not all vaginal discharge means you have an infection. There are also non-infectious causes of vaginal discharge as well.
Here are 5 causes of vaginal discharge:
1. You’re ovulating
The process of an egg being released from the ovary is called ovulation. Your discharge may get wetter, clearer, and stretchier as ovulation approaches. These days, you can also have brown or dark discharge.
2. Vaginal discharge may indicate arousal
Arousal during sexual intercourse is the sensation of being sexually turned on, which results in vaginal discharge. It thickens and increases while you’re sexually stimulated, which makes it more obvious.
3. You’re stressed or dealing with hormonal imbalance
Hormonal imbalances due to stress or other health conditions, like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), may also cause an increase in the amount of vaginal discharge. Additionally, you can feel vaginal tightness and dryness.
Also, read: White vaginal discharge before periods: To worry or not to worry?
4. You’re having an allergic reaction
It is possible to have an allergic reaction in or around the vagina. It can be caused due to cleansers, douches, clothing, and even toilet paper. However, discharge is not its only sign. Itching, redness, inflammation, and a foul odour will all be present. See a doctor since it could quickly become an infection.
5. You’re showing early signs of pregnancy
All women experience an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy and it’s normal. It helps to protect the fetus from any infections that might travel up the vagina and into the uterus. However, it’s recommended to contact your doctor if there are any significant changes in the volume, colour, or substance of your vaginal discharge.