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Types Of Vaginal Discharge And What They Signify

Vaginal discharge could take many forms, the colour, scent consistency amongst others give us a clue as to whether it's normal or not.

At least once in your life as a woman you may experience a vaginal discharge.

Sometimes, this inevitable event may cause you concern. You may start to worry about your health.

In this article, we would answer basic questions about vaginal discharge; the types, significance and causes.

What Is Vaginal Discharge?

A vaginal discharge is any secretion that is released from the vagina at any point in time. The discharge could come from the womb , the cervix or the walls of the vagina.

Often times, women wonder if a discharge is normal or not.

What’s A Normal Discharge?

In most cases, a normal discharge is made up of exfoliated (shed) vaginal skin cells, bacteria, as well as secretions from the vagina itself, womb and cervix .

Normal vaginal discharge is usually clear or milky and it may have a gentle scent that is NOT unpleasant or irritating.

The vagina actually contains a broad range of bacteria. 95% of which function to keep the vagina safe from other unwanted bacteria which cause several urinary tract infections (UTIs which is any infection in the kidneys, bladder, or the “pipes”that connect them to each other and the outside of the body ) .

A healthy vagina is expected to have a slightly acidic pH. Interestingly this wards off unwanted bacteria.

What Are the Types?

Vaginal Discharge varies over the course of a female’s menstrual cycle.

These changes result in the varying types of discharge. Some of them include:

Itching and the presence of curdled, white /cream vaginal discharge (like cottage cheese) is common in yeast infections (thrush)
Itching and the presence of curdled, white /cream, vaginal discharge (like cottage cheese) is common in yeast infections (thrush)
  • White: Most women observe a thick and white discharge at the beginning and end of their cycles. In normal conditions, this white discharge is not associated with any form of itching. Therefore, when itching occurs, the white discharge may be a symptom of yeast infection.
  • Yellow or Green: Greenish or yellowish discharge may signify the presence of an infection such as trichomoniasis.
  • Brown: Brown discharge may occur immediately after periods. This simply means your vagina is being ‘cleaned up’ because dry blood looks brownish.
Passage of dark to rusty brown discharge signal the end of the menstrual cycle
Passage of dark to rusty brown discharge signals “old blood” the end of the menstrual cycle.
  • Spotting Blood: Blood may be observed in vaginal discharge when you are ovulating, in the middle of your circle or after childbirth. Sometimes, a spotting like this occurs in the first month of pregnancy.
  • Clear and Slimy: In this case, the vaginal discharge means you are ovulating. It’s usually stretchy when felt between the fingers and varies in thickness.
  • Clear & Watery; This type of discharge occurs at various points of your cycle, especially after strenuous exercise.
Clear slimy vaginal discharge (like egg whites) usually signifies ovulation
Clear slimy vaginal discharge (like egg white) usually signifies ovulation.
Image: Shutterstock

When Should I Get Worried?

Not Immediately…

However, we advise that you take note of the various types of discharge listed above. In addition to this, it is advisable to speak with a qualified medical practitioner if you observe a coloured or bloody discharge.

If you experience any of these symptoms, please consult your doctor:

  • Rashes or blisters
  • Burning sensations on your genital region
  • Pain on your tummy or genital region
  • Itching
  • Sores

What Factors Affect The Sort Of Discharge?

Several factors may alter the volume, color and scent of a discharge. Some of these factors include:

  • Sexual activity and number of Sexual Partners
  • Medication and birth Control Use
  • Associating Medical Conditions (such as Diabetes)
  • The presence of foreign bodies such as cervical cerclage tape or intrauterine contraceptive device

In Conclusion

Vaginal discharge is inevitable.

What really matters is the volume, colour and scent of the discharge in question. It is advisable to remain observant and take not of any drastic or uncomfortable changes around your private area.

Do not hesitate to speak to a doctor whenever you notice these changes.

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