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Most of the time, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. The amount can vary, as can odor and hue (its color can range from clear to a milky white-ish), depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. For example, there will be more discharge if you are ovulating, breastfeeding, or are sexually aroused. The smell may be different if you are pregnant or you haven't been diligent about your personal hygiene.
None of those changes is cause for alarm. However, if the color, smell, or consistency seems significantly unusual, especially if it accompanied by vaginal itching or burning, you could be noticing an infection or other condition.
Different Types of Discharge
White: Thick, white discharge is common at the beginning and end of your cycle. Normal white discharge is not accompanied by itching. If itching is present, thick white discharge can indicate a yeast infection.
Clear and stretchy: This is "fertile" mucous and means you are ovulating.
Clear and watery: This occurs at different times of your cycle and can be particularly heavy after exercising.
Yellow or Green: May indicate an infection, especially if it is thick or clumpy like cottage cheese or has a foul odor.
Brown: May happen right after periods, and is just "cleaning out" your vagina. Old blood looks brown.
Spotting Blood/Brown Discharge: This may occur when you are ovulating/mid-cycle. Sometimes early in pregnancy you may have spotting or a brownish discharge at the time your period would normally come.
If you have spotting at the time of your normal period rather than your usual amount of flow, and you have had sex without using birth control, you should check a pregnancy test.
9 Types Of Vaginal Discharge And What They Mean
There are many types of vaginal discharge- white, clear odourless to creamy or brownish discharge with strong odour depending on the cause.
The guide below may help identify the cause of the discharge.
1. Thick and white, odourless – Cyclical Related to the menstrual cycle. It occurs at the beginning and end of the cycle and its normal
2. Clear and stretchy or slippery -Occurs during ovulation
3. Purulent and malodorous
- Discharge, painful, red blisters or sores to appear around the private parts
- Private part herpes
4. Bloody or brown
- Irregular menstrual cycles, or less often, cervical or endometrial cancer
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain. Could be present pre-puberty or after menopause.
5. Creamy white or yellow, odourless
- Bleeding between periods, urinary incontinence
6. Profuse, frothy, yellow or greenish with a bad smell
- Pain and itching while urinating. Soreness, swelling and itching around the vagina
Shedding of the uterine lining after childbirth (lochia)
8. Thick, white, cheesy (like cottage cheese). Discharge may smell slightly yeasty
- Inflamed cervix, swelling, itchiness, as well as soreness and pain around the vulva. May cause itching and painful sexual intercourse. Not sexually transmitted
9. Thin, white, gray, or yellow with fishy odor
- Inflammation of the vagina or vulva. BV is an imbalance in the normal bacteria found in your vagina. Not sexually transmitted.
- Kunle Emmanuel
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The Healthy Vagina - The vagina serves as a passageway between the outside of the body and the inner reproductive organs. The pH balance of the vagina is acidic, which discourages infections from occurring. This acidic environment is created by normally-occurring bacteria. A healthy vagina produces secretions to cleanse and regulate itself, similar to how saliva cleanses and regulates the environment of the mouth. These vaginal secretions are normal vaginal discharge. Any interference with the delicate balance of vaginal secretions sets up an environment conducive to infection.
Normal Vaginal Discharge - All women have some vaginal discharge. Normal discharge may appear clear, cloudy white, and/or yellowish when dry on clothing. It may also contain white flecks and at times may be thin and stringy. Changes in normal discharge can occur for many reasons, including menstrual cycle, emotional stressors, nutritional status, pregnancy, usage of medications - including birth control pills, and sexual arousal.
Effects of the Menstrual Cycle - The menstrual cycle affects the vaginal environment. You may notice increased wetness and clear discharge around mid-cycle. The pH balance of the vagina fluctuates during the cycle and is the least acidic on the days
just prior to and during menstruation. Infections, therefore, are most common at this time.
Signs of Abnormal Discharge - Any changes in color or amount of discharge may be a sign of a vaginal infection. Vaginal infections are very common; most women will experience some form of a vaginal infection in their lifetime. If you experience any of the symptoms below, this may be a sign of vaginal infection.
Clean warm water is enough to wash the vagina however you can use mild baby soap to wash the pubic area and towel or air dry
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