Maura Quinlan, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the North-western University Feinberg School of Medicine has recently enlightened young female adults about vaginal discharge, saying there is no cause for alarm with the development.
She added that they should rather be worried if they don’t regularly have some vaginal secretions in their underwear, because it is mostly a sign that your vagina is staying healthy. “It’s like saliva in your mouth—it should be there”.
The findings reported in shethepeople says water discharge from the vagina or vaginal discharge is the fluid secreted by the glands in the vagina and cervix. The fluids flow out of the vaginal opening carrying out old cells that have lined the vagina. This is the body’s way of keeping the vagina clean, healthy, and lubricated.
The colour and the amount of normal vaginal discharge vary from person to person. In the same vein, Dr Aakriti Gupta, a gynaecologist, told SheThePeople, “Basically the colour is transparent to white and there is no odour or smell.”
Jessica Shepherd, M.D., gynaecologic surgeon at Baylor University Medical Centre at Dallas, added that your discharge is a clue that your vagina is cleaning itself properly.
Shepherd also said that your vagina is a sensitive environment. It’s constantly working to stay lubricated, maintain its pH balance, and keep good vs bad bacteria in check.
“Self-cleansing through discharge is one of the things your vagina does to achieve these goals. That discharge usually comes from the vagina itself and mucus made by your cervix, the low, narrow portion of your uterus”, said Suzanne Fenske, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics, gynaecology, and reproductive scientist at Mount Sinai Health System.
Dr Fenske said since discharge does such a stellar job of cleaning your vagina, you don’t need to do anything to help it out. That means no “special” products marketed towards making your vagina cleaner—things like douches can just upset your natural pH balance and promote irritation and infection.
Your discharge will usually fluctuate throughout the month—except if you’re on hormonal birth control containing oestrogen.
“Normal vaginal discharge can change in consistency and colour throughout your cycle,” Dr Fenske says.
There are various types of funky discharge changes that signal something is off with your vagina.
“You know what’s normal for you, and any major, lasting shifts in your discharge should be flagged for your doctor, even if they don’t seem particularly worrisome. But there are certain kinds of discharge that should prompt a call to your gynaecologist, because they probably mean your vaginal health is compromised.
“Yellow or green discharge: “That indicates that your body is trying to fight an infection,” Dr Shepherd says. Possible culprits include sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and trichomonas, a lesser-known STI caused by a parasite. Bacterial vaginosis, which happens when “bad” bacteria in your vagina (anaerobes) outnumber “good” bacteria there (lactobacilli), may also be the cause.
“These infections typically cause a foul-smelling vaginal odour, another sign you should ask your doctor for evaluation.
“An uptick in grey or white discharge: While yellow or green discharge is a sure sign something’s up, that doesn’t mean lighter discharge is always okay. All of the above infections can cause an uptick in grey or white discharge as well. This is why it’s important to tell your doctor if you’re seeing a lot more of the stuff, even if the colour doesn’t immediately seem off.
“Cottage cheese-like discharge: Having itchiness or burning with discharge that resembles cottage cheese can mean you have a yeast infection. But if you keep self-treating what seems like a yeast infection and it always comes back, see your doctor. You may have recurrent yeast infections (meaning you get four or more a year) that require longer treatment, or your “yeast infection” may be something else entirely, like chlamydia or gonorrhoea,” Dr Shepherd emphasized.
Bloody discharge not related to your period: If you’re seeing pink, red, or brown discharge at any point in your cycle other than during your period or just before it, you should call your doctor, Dr Quinlan says. You could just be spotting unexpectedly due to something like a change in your birth control or cervical polyps (non-cancerous growths on your cervix). However, in rare cases, bloody discharge can be a sign of cervical cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.