Vaginal Discharge: Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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Vaginal discharge is common in women across all age groups, especially in women of reproductive age. It refers to the fluid released from the vagina, which can vary in consistency, color, and odor. White vaginal discharge may sometimes be accompanied by an itchy sensation in the genitals or may be completely asymptomatic. While vaginal discharge before period is often a normal physiological process, changes in its characteristics or accompanying symptoms may indicate an underlying concern of infection or other gynecological issues. [1] In this article, we will explore the vaginal discharge meaning, the different vaginal discharge type, their vaginal discharge causes, symptoms, and available vaginal discharge treatment options.

What are the various types of vaginal discharge?

Normal vaginal discharge: Normal vaginal discharge, also known as physiologic discharge, is a clear or milky fluid that helps to maintain vaginal health. It plays a vital role in lubrication, cleansing, and preventing infections. The volume, consistency, and odor of Normal vaginal discharge may vary throughout the menstrual cycle in this vaginal discharge type.

Abnormal Vaginal discharge refers to any change in color, consistency, odor, or amount of discharge. It may signal an underlying infection or other health conditions. [2] Abnormal discharge can be categorized into several vaginal discharge types:

1. Candida vaginitis or Yeast Infection:

A yeast infection or fungal infection triggered by an overgrowth of Candida fungus often leads to thick, white, cottage cheese-like discharge. [2] This vaginal discharge type may also cause white vaginal discharge and itching, swelling, redness, and irritation of the vaginal area.

2. Bacterial Vaginosis or Gardnerella:

BV occurs due to an imbalance in the normal bacteria present in the vagina. The vaginal discharge type typically causes a gray, homogeneous, malodorous discharge. [2] Women with BV may experience itching, burning, white vaginal discharge and itching, or irritation.

3. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs):

Certain STIs, such as trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, can cause abnormal Vaginal discharge. The vaginal discharge type may be gray or greenish-yellow and is not usually frothy but is often excessive. [2]

What are the causes of Vaginal Discharge?

vaginal discharge causes

Various factors can lead to the occurrence of abnormal Vaginal discharge. Some of the vaginal discharge causes include:

Infections:

Bacterial, fungal, or viral infections can disrupt the normal balance of vaginal flora and result in changes in discharge. Common infections include yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.

Hormonal Changes:

Fluctuations in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause, or while taking hormonal contraceptives can impact the consistency and amount of Vaginal discharge.[3]

Weakness:

Weakness in the body and the genital organs, in particular, can be another cause of Vaginal discharge. [3]

Poor Hygiene:

Inadequate or excessive genital hygiene practices can disrupt the natural balance of the vaginal environment, leading to an increase in Vaginal discharge or the development of infections. [3]

Other causes:

Some women may experience an allergic reaction to certain substances, such as scented soaps, douches, laundry detergents, or latex condoms, as well as the use of other products such as antibiotics and contraceptive pills resulting in abnormal Vaginal discharge. Sometimes overheating or tight trousers, sterilization operations, and sexually transmitted diseases can be the causes of Vaginal discharge. [3]

What are the symptoms of Vaginal Discharge?

Apart from changes in the characteristics of discharge, abnormal Vaginal discharge may be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Itching or irritation in the vaginal area
  • Redness or swelling of the vulva
  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Foul or unpleasant odor
  • Pelvic pain, backache, weakness, or lower abdominal discomfort [3]

How can vaginal discharge be treated?

The vaginal discharge treatment depends on the underlying cause. Consulting a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment is essential. The following treatment options are commonly prescribed:

Look for alternative contraception choices:

If spermicides and lubricants contribute to symptoms, alternatives should be discussed, such as cryocautery, to relieve symptoms.

Try Intravaginal estrogen replacement:

After menopause, women may be predisposed to atrophic vaginal changes. Thus pessaries or creams may help gradually improve the condition of the vaginal epithelium and reduce the susceptibility to infection.

Test for underlying gynecological disease:

This should be considered by all women who have unexplained persistent Vaginal discharge. [4]

FAQs

1. Is it considered normal to have Vaginal discharge every day?

It is normal to have fluid flowing out of the vagina each day as it helps cleanse old cells that have lined the vagina and are the body’s way of keeping the vagina healthy and clean. The discharge varies in every woman; some have vaginal discharge daily, while others experience it less frequently.

2. What can be discerned from a milky White vaginal discharge?

Milky White vaginal discharge can be typically seen around the menstrual cycle, and vaginal discharge before period is quite common. It is said that before ovulation occurs, a female’s discharge can be white and cloudy when it also feels sticky or tacky. However, White vaginal discharge and white vaginal discharge and itching may also indicate vaginal infection or pregnancy.

3. What are a few Ayurvedic remedies to cure abnormal vaginal discharge?

Some Ayurvedic remedies to cure abnormal vaginal discharge include:
1. Lodhra (Symplocosracemosa)
This potent herb is an astringent and has antibacterial properties. It is helpful for treating various hormonal issues in women and aids in balancing the Kaphadosha.
2. Ashoka (Saracaasoca)
This helps with several gynaecological disorders, including irregular menstruation and abnormal vaginal discharge.
3. Guduchi (Tinosporacordifolia)
The stem of the Guduchi plant can be boiled in water and used as a vaginal wash. This is highly beneficial in maintaining a healthy flow of vaginal discharge.Apart from using Guduchi or Giloy for vaginal wash, you can also consider taking Giloy pills to boost your immunity and protect your vaginal area from unwanted fungal infections that often lead to smelly and abnormal vaginal discharge. It is best to buy the Zandu Giloy Capsules for this purpose.
4. Triphala
Amlaki, haritaki, and bibhitaki are the three fruits of the triphala. The combination can be used to make an effective concoction and then use it to wash the vagina. Taking Triphala Capsules, too, may help you achieve overall fitness and keep annoying problems like vaginal discharge at bay. Place your order for Zandu Triphala Capsules without delay!

Conclusion

It is crucial to have Vaginal discharge detected early to prevent later complications of other related diseases that can severely compromise a woman’s fertility, health, and even survival.

There is a general lack of awareness among women regarding the causes of White vaginal discharge, an inability to distinguish between normal and abnormal discharges, and the embarrassment, shame, and anxiety related to disclosing the condition leads to more complications. Vaginal discharge is a normal and important physiological process that helps maintain vaginal health. However, changes in the characteristics or accompanying symptoms may indicate an underlying issue that requires medical attention. In this article, we have attempted to throw light on what is vaginal discharge, vaginal discharge type, causes, symptoms, and treatment options for vaginal discharge. Women can take proactive steps towards maintaining their reproductive health and seeking appropriate care when necessary.

Disclaimer: This article is written from a health and wellness perspective and is not medical advice. Kindly seek the help of a certified medical practitioner before initiating any treatment.

References:

  1. Vaginal Discharge
  2. Vaginal Discharge
  3. Vaginal Discharge Women’s Health Seeking Behaviours And Cultural Practices
  4. Vaginal discharge—causes, diagnosis, and treatment
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Dr. Ashwini Konnur

Dr. Ashwini has 17 years of experience in Clinical Practice, Research & Education in the field of Ayurveda with competency in acute & chronic conditions & lifestyle diseases. She has also expertise in treating Female Infertility disorders, other Gynecological Problems & General disorders along with specialised focus in Ayurvedic detoxification therapies, Panchakarma & other Ayurvedic treatments

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