“Why do I have white discharge?”. “Is it normal?”. “Why does it smell fishy down there?” These are some of the questions that we all women have in our minds. The vaginal discharge is a natural phenomenon all women go through throughout their reproductive phase. You should be concerned when there is a change in your normal vaginal discharge.
What constitutes as ‘normal’ discharge?
So obviously we come to the question, what is a ‘normal’ discharge? Many of us are unaware that the vagina has an ideal ecosystem. It is a place for good bacteria, pH and moisture. These work together to keep your vagina healthy. The discharge plays a vital housekeeping role in the female reproductive system. With the specific balance of bacteria, pH and moisture, the fluid washes away all the dead cells and bacteria and thus keeping all infections out of the door.
It is a natural phenomenon if you see different types of vaginal fluid throughout your menstrual cycle. For example, when you are ovulating, breastfeeding or sexually aroused there will be more discharge. The smell might be different when you are pregnant.
- Vaginal discharge color and constituency- At the beginning of the cycle, the fluid is more dry/sticky or may not notice any discharge at all. Around your ovulation phase, it becomes similar to stretchy, wet, transparent egg white. As soon as the ovulation phase is over, it comebacks to dry or sticky.
- Vaginal discharge volume- The volume of the discharge also increases before and during the ovulation, which normally lasts until the end of the cycle.
- Vaginal discharge smell- Normal discharge is odorless of can have a smell, but usually, it’s mild and unpleasant. The smell in your underwear during your periods is because of the vaginal discharge.
Signs that you have ‘abnormal’ vaginal discharge
Look out for these changes in your vaginal discharge-
- The color changes to grey, green, yellow or brown
- The consistency of the fluid becomes thinner or thicker
- The fluid smells fishy, metallic and not normal
- The volume of the fluid changes from unexpected in volume
Therefore, it is important you know what a ‘normal’ discharge looks like so that whenever you see a change in it, you immediately seek medical help.
Causes of ‘abnormal’ vaginal discharge
The main reason for ‘abnormal’ discharge is when the specific balance of bacteria, pH and moisture is thrown off. This means the housekeeping role of vaginal discharge is faltered. The factors the vaginal ecosystem can be disrupted are-
- Douching and vaginal cleansing products
- Use of hormonal birth control
- Irregular bleeding or spotting
- Use of antibiotics or steroids
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Less vaginal Lactobacillus bacteria
- Poor lifestyle choices
- Sexual activity
Other factors that can lead to ‘abnormal’ discharge are-
- Bacterial vaginosis- This is one of the most common bacterial infections. The main symptoms include increased vaginal discharge which has a strong, foul and fishy odor. This may get treated on its own but it will often recur.
- Trichomoniasis- This is another type of infection. It’s caused by a single-celled organism. This can spread through sexual contact but can also be contracted by sharing a towel or bathing suits. It results in a yellow or green discharge that has a foul odor. Some other common symptoms are pain, inflammation and itching.
- Yeast infection- It is a type of fungal infection that produces white, cottage cheese-like discharge along with burning and itching sensations. This is caused when there is an overgrowth of yeast in certain situations. The factors that can increase your susceptibility are-
- Use of birth control pills
- Use of antibiotics
- Gonorrhea and chlamydia- These are types of sexually-transmitted diseases that produce yellow, greenish or cloudy colored These do not cause any symptoms for a long time. Get treatment for abnormal vaginal discharge as soon as possible!
- Pelvic inflammatory disease- This occurs when the bacteria spread from the vagina to other reproductive organs. This produces a heavy, foul-smelling discharge.
It generally includes applying antibiotic gel or cream for a few days or consuming antibiotics orally or injection.
Home Remedies To Cure Vaginal Yeast Infection
- Greek Yogurt- Studies reveal that yogurt is essential in curing these infections as these contain live bacteria. They help in the production of good bacteria which helps to restore the balance of bacteria and yeast around the vagina.
- Boric acid- It is considered useful for treating yeast infections that can be cured by other remedies. It is also beneficial for women who suffer from this infection regularly.
- Oregano essential oil- The oil contains thymol and carvacrol which are powerful antifungals.
- Coconut oil is known for its benefits including antifungal properties. It can be applied both internally or externally directly to the vagina to get relief from the symptoms.
- Tea Tree oil- This is very helpful in maintaining a healthy balance of flora. It is an essential oil that is used to kill fungi, bacteria and viruses.
- Apple cider vinegar- The acidity of the vinegar will help you eliminate harmful microorganisms.
- Garlic- Considered as an antifungal and antibiotic, studies show that garlic can be effective for killing the yeast near the vagina.
- Hydrogen peroxide- This is a bacteria and yeast-killing antiseptic. But you should remember that this doesn’t work on every species of yeast.
- Vitamin C- In tablet forms, Vitamin C has antimicrobial components which some women use it to kill the overgrowth.
Keep your vagina healthy!
So try these preventive measures to keep the problem miles away-
- Use protection during sexual intercourse
- Avoid using scented soap or sprays from the vagina
- Don’t douche
- Wear cotton undergarments
- Use contraceptives
- Do Kegel exercises
- Stop smoking
- Limit consumption of alcohol
A healthy environment in the vagina will lower the chances of STD and further avoid any uncomfortable symptoms as well as other health complications. Maintaining good vaginal health is not at all a one-step process. But simply following the above-mentioned measures can help you with that! So don’t worry and have an intimate relationship with your “intimate” health!