Vaginal discharge is not always abnormal. The vagina is not meant to be dry; there are some discharge which are physiological and normal. The mucus from the cervix (mouth of the womb) is under the influence of the hormones and it changes according to the phase of the menstrual cycle.
Many women pass a clear mucus form the vagina at the time of ovulation (release of the egg each month).
There is also an increase in vaginal secretion just before the period. During intercourse the vagina secretes a lubricating fluid, which may persist for a while afterwards. Also, of course, the semen ejaculated into the vagina will come out over the next few days.
What causes abnormal discharges.
Abnormal discharges may be caused by factors such as:
- Infections and infestations.
- Foreign bodies.
- Tumours in the vagina or neck of the womb.
There are so many organisms that can infect the vagina. Those that we see most commonly in practice are:
- Candida (the fungus). (see section on Candida (thrush))
- Trichomonas (a parasite).
- The Gonorrhoea organism.
- Gardnerella (a special germ).
- Chlamydia (another special germ).
- E. Coli (the bowel organsim), the herpes virus and other germs and parasites.
Moniliasis (fungul infection) Candida, Thrush.
A white curdly discharge is probably fungal in origin. The fungus usually responsible is called Monilia albicans or Candida albicans. There is a wide range of very effective antifungal preparations available which require a doctor’s prescription. The fungus can be treated mainly by local application of creams mainly by local application of creams or vaginal tablets. We have available very efficient ant fungal tablets, which need to be taken only for one single day.
Vaginal douches also help.
You can also help yourself by wearing cotton underwear rather than nylon.
A frothy green offensive discharge could be due to the Trichomonas parasite.
A thin grey discharge suggest infection with the gardnerella organism. The condition is called bacterial vaginosis and may be caused by other germs as well.
Gonorrhea may cause no symptoms in women or may cause burning with urination and a purulent (containing pus) discharge in men.
Gonorrhea is treated by antibiotics.
Chlamydia can also cause vaginal infection. If it is not treated it can ascend the uterus and cause problems there; and into the tubes which may be damaged and lead to infertility.
Foreign bodies (FBs)
The commonest FB that causes a discharge is a foreign tampon. This cause discharge that has a nasty smell. Women sometimes put in 2 tampons if the period is very heavy. Invariably they forget and remove only one. So, beware, never use more than 1 tampon at a time.
Tumours and polyps.
Tumours of the neck of the womb, or the womb itself or the vagina can produce a vaginal discharge. These tumours can only be diagnosed if a doctor or sister does an internal examination.
Many women equate a vaginal discharge with an infection; this is often incorrect. Do not presume that a vaginal discharge is due to an infection; this is often incorrect. Do. have an adequate checkup.
An important recommendation.
Vaginal discharge is a common problem. Many women are embarrassed to discuss it with their family doctors; self-medication is therefore common. This can be very dangerous.
If you have a discharge , consult a doctor and get a definite diagnosis and the correct treatment.