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Friday, 28 June 2019

What you need to know About Vaginal Discharge - the Do’s and Don’ts

By Guest Writer, Waire Emonefe

Vaginal discharge is something that women experience on a daily basis with the average female producing around 1 teaspoon every day according to research.  Vaginal discharge comes from the glands inside the vagina and cervix. These glands produce small amount of fluids that are also known as vaginal secretions. The fluid flows out of the vagina each day, cleansing the old cells that have lined the vagina, and it’s completely normal, experts say.

Most at times Vaginal discharge is normal (Photo: Google images)

Discharge helps the body to maintain peace and equilibrium on the inside of the vagina by getting rid of dead skin cells and keeping the vagina hydrated. It also helps prevent infections such as thrush due to its acidity. Healthy vaginal discharge is a good thing and it is important that we know the difference between healthy vaginal discharge and an abnormal vaginal discharge.

When it comes to knowing what amount of discharge is normal or abnormal, it is not a clear cut issue as it largely depends on the woman. Some women may need one panty liner while others might have to change panty liners a couple of times during the day. So, every female is unique in what happens with her vagina. Another thing that differentiates how much discharge you might be having is the time of the month.

(Photo: Google images)

Experts say that between the first and fifth day of your period, chances are there will be no discharge or very little if at all. This might also continue through to the 8th day even if the period is over. But as oestrogen levels start dropping and the egg follicles start growing, the discharge will start coming again. Gynaecologist, Pradnya Pisal in an article on Women’s Health stated that the discharge will appear white, thick and be quite sticky.

From the 9th day to the 12th day as the woman approaches ovulation, the body’s oestrogen level will begin to rise and this will cause a change in the consistency of discharge. The rise in oestrogen hormone will result in a thinning of the discharge and it will be more noticeable because it comes away from the body more easily. Finally, as the progesterone levels rise from the 15th to 28th day, the discharge becomes white and thick again. From the 21st day, progesterone will be at its highest and discharge will be at its thickest.

(Photo: Google images)

It is important to note that healthy vaginal discharge goes beyond what it looks like. It also involves what it smells like. Throughout all the phases listed above, the vaginal discharge shouldn’t smell unpleasant. It also should not cause any soreness or itching around the vulva if you clean up properly.

 If your vagina is treated well on the inside, then it will look good on the outside. In other words, the vagina needs a thriving ecosystem in order to maintain balance that means that what you eat also affects how your vagina behaves. If you eat too much of one food group neglecting the other, you are bound to destroy the harmony that should exist down there. Apart from what you eat, you also want to be careful about having unprotected sex, wearing tight-fitted clothes and thongs, using a particular type of soap to wash, especially as just water is good enough to clean up the vagina.  If these factors are not taken into consideration, the result is abnormal vaginal discharge.

(Photo: Google images)

Some conditions that may lead to abnormal vaginal discharge include:

·         Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): Researchers say that one in three women will get this condition sometime in their life. BV is caused by an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria in the vagina and it is usually triggered by sex and use of perfumed products around the vagina area amongst others. Discharge from this condition is usually watery with a white or grey colour and a strong fishy smell, especially after sex.

·         Thrush: This is a yeasty infection that is quite common amongst women in their 20s and 30s. It is caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina and is most likely to occur if you are feeling fatigued, have poorly controlled diabetes or try to have sex without being properly aroused. It could also be triggered by antibiotics. The vaginal discharge in this case is usually white, thicker than normal and a little lumpy. The main symptom to watch out for is the fact that it will itch and may cause pain during sex or while peeing.

(Photo: Google images)

·         Allergies: If your vagina is reacting to something allergic, it would also show with abnormal discharge. The discharge will be excessive with itching.

·         STIs: Sexually Transmitted Infections can cause serious damage if left untreated and you can tell by your discharge. Two major STIs that impact on vaginal discharge are - trichomoniasis which is caused by a parasite, and gonorrhoea which is a bacterial infection. The discharge caused by these conditions is usually frothy, watery and greyish with trichomoniasis and with gonorrhoea it is usually yellow or green.

·         Cancer: According to the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Centre, certain changes in discharge could be a sign of cervical or endometrial cancer especially if paired with other symptoms like constant fatigue, bloated belly and pain in the pelvis area. The discharge resulting from this condition might contain blood or change from healthy clear and odourless mucus to something dark and smelly.

Since every woman is different. It’s important to pay attention to your vaginal discharge. When you do this, you will be able to recognise what is normal for you and what is abnormal. If you have vaginal discharge that doesn’t seem normal then you should contact your doctor.

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