Vaginal health is important and it’s disappointing how vaginal issues are not discussed as often as they should be.
It’s definitely a high time to address the elephant in the room.
Women go through a variety of vaginal issues and these issues may change at different ages, stages and phases of her life. However, amongst all these issues, the most common one is vaginal discharge.
Vaginal discharge is something a woman has to deal with all her life. Women instinctively know that vaginal discharge indicates a lot about their health. It is something a woman is most concerned about and as it keeps on changing throughout her life it can be a tricky thing to deal with.
It’s also hard for many women to differentiate between what’s normal and what’s not and In order to understand the abnormal it’s important to know the normal.
Something you should know –
It’s safe to say that vagina hosts its own ecosystem. It maintains an acidic pH to kill the unwanted bacteria, produces moisture and fluids to keep the itself lubricated and clean. Basically, vagina is smart and it knows how to take care of itself.
However, this balance is sensitive to changes happening both inside and outside the body.
Fluid changes in vagina
Vaginal fluid shows changes in its consistency, colour and volume and these changes are usually nothing to be concerned of.
It’s normal to notice fluid changes as they happen throughout the menstrual cycle naturally, with respect to hormonal changes. Fluid changes can also happen in a state of arousal, during sex or while a woman is pregnant.
Vaginal discharge can also show changes in colour, odour, volume and consistency during infections and diseases.
What discharge is normal during early pregnancy?
Vaginal discharge changes according the menstrual cycle.
At the beginning of the cycle, vaginal discharge is thin and sticky, around ovulation it can change its colour and consistency to transparent sticky egg white. After ovulation it usually changes back to sticky. Volume changes through the menstrual cycle as well as It is the highest at the time of ovulation. Normal discharge is usually odorless and even if it has a smell, it’s usually mild.
It’s important that you get familiar with the usual colour, consistency and smell of your vaginal discharge.
What is Abnormal Vaginal Discharge?
You may notice the following things if your vaginal discharge is abnormal, check if –
- The Discharge becomes unusually thin.
- Discharge becomes unusually thick.
- Color of discharge changes gray, green, yellow or brown.
- Volume of the discharge increases or decreases drastically.
- Discharge has a Fishy or metallic odour.
What is Leukorrhea?
White discharge or leukorrhea is usually nothing to be worried about, most women experience it during their normal menstrual cycle around the time of ovulation. This discharge is mucus like and thick with transparent egg white colour and sticky consistency. White discharge helps in keeping the vagina well lubricated and during ovulation it helps in fertilisation, helping the sperms reach the ovum.
However, sometimes white discharge can also indicate towards an underlying problem.
Look out for –
- Thick White Clumpy Discharge (yeast infection)
- Thick discharge with cottage cheese like consistency. (yeast infection ).
- Foul smelling white discharge. (vaginal infections, STDs).
- Colour changing white discharge, white to yellow or green (sexually transmitted infections).
- Thick, white, foul smelling, sticky discharge (vaginal infections).
- Cloudy discharge with fish like odour (bacterial vaginosis)
Meet your doctor if –
- There is burning pain around the vagina.
- Vagina is sore and itchy.
- Strong and foul odour from the discharge.
White discharge isn’t always a cause for concern, but if it brings any kind of discomfort, it should not be ignored. Notify your doctor immediately so that your health can be taken care of.
How to treat Vaginal Infections?
Here are some tips for preventing vaginal infections that can lead to abnormal discharge:
- Keep the vagina clean.
- Wash it regularly with a gentle, mild soap and warm water so that the pH of your vagina remains balanced.
- Never use scented soaps, they can throw off the vaginal pH balance.
- Say no to douching.
- Avoid feminine sprays or any other chemical products.
- After going to the bathroom, always wipe from front to back. This prevents bacteria from getting into the vagina.
- Wear 100% cotton panties or go nude.
- Say no to unsafe sex. Use a condom, it lower down your chance of catching an std.
- Don’t ditch your ob/gyns appointment. Go for regular pelvic examinations.
What is the cause of white discharge during pregnancy?
When a woman gets pregnant, her vagina begins to work overtime, working hard to keep the cervix healthy, moist and clean. Normal vaginal discharges are important during pregnancy as they keep the vagina healthy.
It’s important to keep a check on the vaginal discharge and look out for any colour changes and odour changes.
If the vaginal discharge during pregnancy abruptly changes volume, colour and odour inform your doctor immediately.
Vaginal discharge during First and Second Trimester
When a woman misses her period, experiences breast tenderness, sticky white vaginal discharge & nausea, then all of these things are usually taken as a typical signs of pregnancy.
Water and milky vaginal discharge during pregnancy occurs due to estrogen surge and increase in blood circulation in the vaginal area.
Women can experience clear fluid discharge during early pregnancy or milky white discharge that resembles vaginal discharge experienced at the time of ovulation.
However, discharge during pregnancy and discharge during ovulation are not quite the same. During pregnancy the volume of white discharge is much larger, stickier and heavier as compared to the one that occurs during ovulation.
In the first trimester vaginal discharge is watery or milky white. This discharge gets heavier in second trimester. However, look out for blood stained discharge and foul smelling discharge in the second trimester as they can indicate towards problems. Inform your doctor right away if you are experiencing such a discharge.
If the volume of white discharge is making you uncomfortable, It is recommended to use a panty liner or pad instead of using tampons as tampons can irritate the vagina and increase the risk of bacterial infections. Don’t practice douching. Wipe the vagina
Vaginal discharge during third trimester
Third trimester of pregnancy can be the most challenging and crucial period. Your body is preparing itself to bring a new life into this world.
You can experience a varying consistency of discharges during this period. Keep inspecting your vagina discharges and notify your doctor about the changes.
In the third trimester you can notice a further increase in vaginal discharge.
Look out for a pinkish blood stained thick discharge as it can be the sign that your jelly like mucus plug has been shed. Inform your doctor or health care provider immediately if you see it. You can expect to see such a discharge If you are in third trimester, close to your delivery date, this discharge means that your cervix is dilating and your body is preparing itself for labour.
If you experience a discharge that is watery, thin, clear colourless and odorless, it can indicate that your amniotic fluid is leaking. Inform your doctor immediately as it this is a cause of concern and should not be ignored.
Stay alert, If you suddenly experience a large volume of fluid rushing down your vagina and this flow gets heavy enough to soak through your panties and even your panty liners, call your doctor immediately. This type of fluid rush can indicate that your water has broken. Since, you may or may not experience contractions along with it (as only 8% of the women experience this before the contraction starts), don’t wait to find out and don’t try to handle the situation alone. Seek help immediately.
What happens if you have Abnormal vaginal discharge during pregnancy?
Abnormal Vaginal discharge during pregnancy can be due to infections. Such discharges require immediate treatment as they can adversely affect the baby and complicate the pregnancy.
Inform your doctor immediately if you are experiencing the following –
- A foul smelling thick white discharge.
- Foul smelling yellowish discharge.
- Foul smelling Green discharge.
- A discharge which is causing an itch and burning sensation.
- Pain around the vagina.
- Rashes around the vagina
- Changes in skin colour around the vagina.
Treatment of Abnormal Milky White Discharge
If you are experiencing a milky white discharge, and you don’t know what it is, ask your doctor.
If it is making you uncomfortable, scared and worried, don’t deal with it alone.
Let your doctor have a look at it. Normal or abnormal, self diagnosing the situation is not a very wise thing to do when you have access to professional help. You doctor will help you understand whether you vaginal discharge is normal or not.
If your your discharge is abnormal and something is wrong, your doctor will immediately begin the correct course of treatment according to your discharge and symptoms.
If your vaginal discharge is abnormal, and it is due to an infection your doctor can prescribe anti-fungal or antibacterial treatment accordingly.
Pregnant women should keep on inspecting their vaginal discharge regularly. Vaginal discharge during pregnancy can not only indicate the onset of labour but it can also indicate the presence of infections and several other complications depending nd upon the colour, consistency and smell.
Don’t be shy or embarrassed. Share every minute detail of your symptoms with your doctor so that you can get better help. Visit your gynaecologist or call and seek help in case of any emergency.
Vaginal discharge is something which every woman experiences. White discharge is usually nothing to be scared of, but abnormal discharges must not be ignored at any cost. A change in vaginal discharge should not be ignored, especially by pregnant women as it can affect the course of their pregnancy in many ways.
Seek help immediately, don’t be shy.