Vaginal discharge is most often a normal and regular occurrence. However, there are certain types of discharge that can indicate an infection. Abnormal discharge may be yellow or green, chunky in consistency, or have a foul odor. Abnormal discharge is usually caused by yeast or bacterial infection. If you notice any discharge that looks unusual or is foul smelling, you should see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Normal vaginal fluids can vary. They might be thin and slightly sticky to thick and gummy. They can be clear to white or off-white in colour. The amount of discharge can also vary depending upon a girl’s/ women’s menstrual cycle. For example, it tends to be a bit heavier around ovulation time; which is when an egg is released from the ovary and moves into the Fallopian tube.
Normal discharge might have a slight odour (smell) and should never cause itching or burning. Problems like itching, a strong odour, or a change in colour (such as brown, gray, or green) indicate that a girl may have a vaginal infection and needs to see a doctor.
Excessive vaginal discharge should raise an alarm if you notice the following signs accompanied with the same:
Change in colour of the secretions
If you notice that the colour of your vaginal secretions has changed from being a clear-milky fluid to yellow or is green in colour with a foul smell to it; this is likely to be a sign of an infection. ‘It could be indicative of a fungal, bacterial or viral infection. This sign could also serve to be an early symptom of a s3xually transmitted disease (STD).
Change in consistency
If you notice a change in your secretions along with some pain and change in the colour, it should make you wary enough to head to your doctor and get a thorough checkup done. ‘Sometimes in teens, this can also be suggestive of worms infestation in the stomach,’ says Dr Pooja Kahtri Mehta, consultant gynecologist, Paras hospital, Gurgaon.
Burning and itching sensation
Excessive discharge along with a burning or itching sensation indicates that the infection has got hold of your private areas and needs immediate medical attention.
Pain during intercourse, despite the secretions by your vagina that helps to serve as lubricant, indicates that there is a chance of an infection or crisis that needs a thorough evaluation by the doctor.
What you can do?
Visit your gynecologist
It is better to visit a gynecologist when you experience any change in the secretions of your vagina to get a detailed evaluation done. ‘If your vaginal discharge indicates any kind of urinary tract infection(UTI), it can be treated effectively with medications. At times one might also be advised to go for a pap smear to be screened for cervical cancer which is common among women,’ says Dr Mehta. Treatment of an STD might be required if you suffer from one.
Keep your vaginal area clean
Hygiene plays an important role in keeping the vaginal area healthy and free of infections. So maintain high levels of cleanliness to keep your privates free of infections. Avoid perfumed washes and douches as they could disrupt the normal pH balance of the area. Washing with warm water and a mild vaginal wash twice a day should serve the purpose.
Have a balanced diet
In a subtle manner, diet also helps to maintain vaginal health and fight infections. Avoid foods that are acidic in nature and include more fruits and yoghurt, as this can neutralise the acid content in the body.
Get some rest
Adequate rest is essential as it strengthens the immune function, protecting you against various infections and it is also necessary for the optimal functioning of the human body.