Is there something wrong with my vaginal discharge?
Most female patients phrase this question in a sheepish and embarrassed tone. These patients also tend to look as if they’d rather be anywhere else than in our consult room asking about vaginal discharge.
What is vaginal discharge?
First of all, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal in ladies of childbearing age. It is produced by glands in your cervix & vagina and this mucus carries away dead cells and bacteria, keeping your female reproductive tract healthy!.
The amount and consistency of your vaginal discharge can vary depending on the time of your cycle as this is influenced by hormones. The colour may vary from milky white to yellow after exposure to air. During ovulation, vaginal discharge takes on a clear stretchy egg white texture.
When should i see a doctor about my vaginal discharge?
- Has a funny colour or odour,
- Blood streaks when it is not near your period
- Thick & clumpy
- Vaginal itch or burning is present
Some causes of abnormal Vaginal discharge:
This is a yeast infection that tends to cause thick clumpy white vaginal discharge & intense itching. It is treated with anti-fungal oral pills or vaginal pessaries.
Bacterial Vaginosis (or Gardneralla)
This is a common bacterial infection that creates a characteristic fishy odour with thin watery vaginal discharge & discomfort, easily treated with a course of antibiotics.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, Trichomoniasis – These conditions also cause abnormal vaginal discharge together with other symptoms like vaginal burning, painful intercourse, painful urination & bleeding.
Cervical or endometrial (womb) cancer
There might be abnormal bleeding noticed after sexual intercourse or foul-smelling vaginal discharge. Most cervical cancers are due to HPV infections ( Human papilloma virus) hence cervical cancer vaccines such as Gardasil 9 are recommended for females before they become sexually active. Regular pap smears aid in early detection of any early cancerous changes & presence of HPV infections in the cervix.
It is important to have a proper consultation, examination and tests so that you will receive appropriate treatment.
Why do women get abnormal vaginal discharge?
Medications like birth control pills alter the hormonal balance and pH of the vaginal environment. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria sometimes allowing overgrowth of yeast resulting in vaginal thrush.
Multiple sexual partners & unprotected sex.
Sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis are spread via sexual contact with infected partners. Bacterial vaginosis is also more common in women with multiple partners.
Diabetes causes raised blood glucose levels due to insulin resistance resulting in reduced immunity and increased susceptibility to infections such as yeast.
Douching, vaginal dryness, natural lack of lactobacilli
Douching, vaginal dryness, natural lack of lactobacilli in your vaginal flora all predispose to vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis.
Vaginal atrophy during menopause
The vaginal walls become thin and dry may cause increased number of vaginal & urinary tract infections.
Cervical cancer or endometrial cancer
Tips on vaginal health
- Do not douche or use scented soaps or lotions on a regular basis.
- If you require a course of antibiotics & are prone to vaginal yeast infections, do take probiotics as well.
- Maintain proper hygiene, try to wear cotton undies & avoid thick pantiliners especially in our hot humid climate as this can encourage vaginal yeast & bacterial infections.
- Pap Smear should be done yearly for all ladies who are sexually active. A routine STD screen must also be included if you are not in a stable relationship or have multiple sexual partners.
If you are unsure if your vaginal discharge is normal or not please see your doctor early.
Our doctors at Mint medical Centre are well equipped to see to your needs. Contact us today!
Dora is the managing partner of Mint Medical Centre who possesses the sincere heart and warm pleasant demeanour of a caring family physician. She has always understood the holistic and varied nature of family medicine, so has clinical experience that encompasses children’s and adult’s emergencies, obstetrics & gynaecology, neurosurgery, respiratory medicine, anaesthesia, paediatric surgery, health promotion board (school health) and the government polyclinic.
Mint Medical Centre is the fulfilment of her bigger dream of providing ongoing care in a well-rounded, friendly family medicine clinic that serves all people; both locals and expatriates, young and old. She derives special satisfaction from helping those who are new to Singapore and enabling them to settle here well.