Vaginal discharge is any fluid or material that leaves a woman’s body through the vagina. Some vaginal discharge is normal for all women, especially those in their reproductive years (ages 15 to 44). When the amount, quality or consistency of vaginal discharge changes, it may be a sign of disease or other irritation.
The fluids, chemicals, and organisms of the vagina have a natural balance. When in balance, they help to clean the vagina and protect it from outside organisms. Any change to that natural balance can affect the characteristics of vaginal discharge. Changes may originate from both internal factors (hormonal changes or stress) or from external factors (infection or poor hygiene).
Normal vaginal discharge is clear or white with no bad odor. It has regular fluctuations that result from hormonal changes occurring throughout the menstrual cycle. The normally clear and thin fluid becomes a bit thicker and heavier at the time of ovulation. Sexual excitement increases vaginal discharge. It also changes during pregnancy, at menopause and when a woman uses birth control pills.
Change in the color, odor or consistency of vaginal discharge may indicate an infection. Yeast infections, where the volume of regular vaginal yeast increases, cause a thick, white discharge that looks like cottage cheese. Other vaginal infections (sometimes grouped as vaginitis) like trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis can cause other changes to vaginal discharge, such as changes in amount, color, and odor. Sexually transmitted diseases may also be associated with the unusual vaginal discharge, but frequently have no symptoms.
In addition, altered vaginal discharge may be the result of personal behaviors or habits that can affect the vaginal environment. These include douching and wearing tight clothing that restricts air flow to the vagina.
Symptoms that may accompany vaginal discharge include painful urination, itching, pelvic pain or rash. A sudden change in vaginal discharge should be reported to a physician. If there is an infection, it can be treated and the vaginal discharge should return to normal levels.
Girls may begin to notice some vaginal discharge up to a year before their first menstrual period. Those not yet nearing puberty who experience vaginal discharge should see a physician immediately because the discharge is rare in healthy prepubescent girls.
You probably have a vaginal infection which can be a fungal, bacterial or mixed infection. This usually causes discharge, a foul smell, and itching but nothing more serious than that. It can be treated easily by vaginal tablets and gel or oral tablets. However, you must also do a sugar test if you have repeated infections and a PAP smear test, to make sure there is no disease of the cervix (mouth of the uterus).
White discharge from vagina is a common problem and usually due to a fungal or mixed infection. This is easily treatable with either oral or vaginal tablets. However, if you are getting repeated episodes then you must check your blood sugar levels and do a pap smear, which is a simple cancer screening test for the cervix (the mouth of the uterus).There maybe an ulcer or redness (erosion) on the cervix which can be treated by a biopsy and cauterization. Sometimes excessive discharge, especially if blood tinged, may also be a sign of cancer cervix.