Vaginal discharge is fluid that contains a mix of vaginal secretions and cervical mucus. The amount of vaginal discharge produced varies from woman to woman but is often normal and healthy. Pregnancy, changing hormones, or the presence of an infection can also affect the consistency and amount of vaginal discharge. Usually, vaginal discharge starts after a girl gets her first menstrual period and has several functions.
It naturally keeps the vagina clean, provides lubrication during sexual intercourse, and may help prevent infection. Normal vaginal discharge is clear, may be thick or thin, and is usually odorless. For instance, discharge may become heavier, thicker, and more noticeable when a woman is ovulating. It may also be white at this time.
The amount of discharge may also change due to sexual activity and the use of birth control. There are different types of vaginal discharge based on consistency and color. Changes in the color, amount, or smell of vaginal discharge may indicate a problem.
In some cases, it is difficult to make a diagnosis based on vaginal discharge alone. Other symptoms such as burning, itchiness, or irritation are often a better indication of a problem. As long as there is no vaginal itching, burning, or unusual smell accompanying the discharge, there is probably no underlying issue. But in other instances, white vaginal discharge could be a sign of an infection. If the discharge is clumpy and looks similar to cottage cheese, it may be due to a yeast infection. A yeast infection may also cause vaginal itching and burning.
It occurs due to an overgrowth of a type of fungus called Candida. Thin, white vaginal discharge that has a strong fishy odor may indicate bacterial vaginosis BV. BV is the most common vaginal infection in women between 15 and Other symptoms may include burning on urination and vaginal itching. Yellow discharge may or may not indicate an infection. If the discharge is a pale yellow, odorless, and not accompanied by other symptoms, it may not be a cause for concern.
In other instances, yellow discharge can be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection STI or a bacterial infection. Clear vaginal discharge is typically normal. For instance, clear discharge may be stretchy and have an egg white consistency around the time of ovulation. Normal vaginal discharge does not need to be prevented. However, taking the following precautions can sometimes prevent abnormal discharge:. Vaginal discharge is often nothing to be concerned about, but there are times when changes in discharge can indicate a problem.
Different types of infections can have similar symptoms, but they are treated differently. It is essential to see a doctor if any of the following develops:. Treatment for the underlying cause of abnormal vaginal discharge will vary and may include antibiotics or antifungal medication. Vaginal discharge is often normal, but there are instances when the color, amount, or consistency of discharge may indicate a problem. In most cases, causes of abnormal vaginal discharge can be treated successfully.
Read the article in Spanish. Bacterial vaginosis is a common infection caused by an imbalance of naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina.
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Included is detail on whether it is necessary and alternatives. Dealing with endometriosis and its complications can be a struggle. We have compiled the best ways to cope with endometriosis and its related pain. What do different types of vaginal discharge mean? Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph. What is normal discharge? Types Prevention Seeing a doctor Takeaway Vaginal discharge is fluid that contains a mix of vaginal secretions and cervical mucus.
What is normal vaginal discharge? Share on Pinterest Vaginal discharge may change in appearance during the menstrual cycle. Types of vaginal discharge.
When to see a doctor. Share on Pinterest Abnormal discharge may be a sign of infection and may require medical attention.
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