All women have vaginal discharge to some extent which is a normal occurrence. Vaginal discharge is a result of the glands on the vaginal walls, uterus and cervix which produces fluids that keeps the vagina clean.
Normal vaginal discharge is usually clear or milky white and odourless. The amount and type of vaginal discharge differs between women and can vary depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. For example, for some women it is normal to have more discharge during the middle of their cycle which could be a sign of ovulation.
A change in the smell, colour or consistency of your vaginal discharge with or without other symptoms such as irritation, itch, pain, abnormal lumps or rashes could be a sign of an infection.
What are the common culprits?
Abnormal vaginal discharge is usually due to infection which could be either bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections. This can be further divided into whether they are sexually transmitted or not.
The most common types of non-sexually transmitted vaginal infections are yeast infections (candida) and bacteria vaginosis (usually caused by Gardnerella).
On the other hand, the more common types of sexually transmitted infections are chlamydia, gonorrhoea and trichomoniasis.
A correct diagnosis of the cause of your vaginal infection can be tricky even for an experienced doctor. This may be further confounded by multiple infections producing a myriad of different symptoms.
If you have noticed a change in your vaginal discharge or if you are not sure if it is normal, it is advisable to see a doctor for further evaluation. Depending on what the cause of your infection is, there may be long term complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility.
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