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Management of vaginal discharge

Vaginal discharge is a common issue affecting women in Singapore and around the world. Vaginal discharge is a combination of fluid and cells that are produced by the uterus, cervix and vagina and is continuously shed through your vagina.

 

Is vaginal discharge normal?

Yes, most women will have normal vaginal discharge. The amount of discharge is different for each woman. Some women have a little discharge now and then. Others have discharge every day. Your “normal” discharge might change many times throughout your life.

 

What may be a sign of a problem?

Changes that may signal a problem include an increase in the amount of discharge, a change in the color or smell of the discharge, and irritation, itchiness, or burning in or around your vagina. This is called vaginitis. A discharge that’s stained with clood when you’re not having your period could also be a sign of a problem. If you have any of the signs, you should talk to your doctor.

 

What are the couses and risk factors of vagina discharge?

Normal vagina discharge exists to keep vagina tissues healthy, provide lubrication, and protect the vagina from infection and irritation. If vaginal discharge increases, it can be from normal menstrual cycle changes, Pregnancy and use of birth control pills can also affect the amount and look of discharge.

 

Abnormal vaginal discharge that has an unusual odor, looks different from your normal discharge, or is accompanied with itching, irritation, burning, or pain may indicate that you have inflammation, infection, such as the following:

  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Cervicitisis
  • Pelvic infllamatory disease (PID)
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Vaginitis
  • Yeast infection
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Vaginal atrophy
  • Cancer of cervix or vagina

 

You should also be on the lookout for symptoms of yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis. These are 3 different infections that can cause changes in your vaginal discharge.

Signs of yeast infections

  • White, cottage cheese-like discharge
  • Swelling and pain arounf the vulva
  • Intense itching
  • Painful sexual intercourse

 

Signs of bacterial vaginosis

  • A white, gray, or yellowish vaginal discharge
  • A fishy odor that is strongest after sex or after washing with soap
  • Itching or burning
  • Slight redness and swelling of the vagina or vulva

 

Signs of trichomoniasis

  • A watery, yellowish, or greenish bubbly discharge
  • An unpleasant odor
  • Pain and itching when urinating
  • Most apparent after your period

 

Treatment and Medication Options for Vagina Discharge

While normal vagina discharge from cervical mucus, arousal fluid, or semen does not need treatment, discharge caused by infection or irritation may require the following treatments.

 

Medication Options

Treating the underlying issue of vaginal discharge might include medications such as:

  • Costicosteroid cream like hydrocortisone or oral antihistamines to relieve itching
  • Antibiotic medication to treat bacteria that cause infections
  • Vaginal cream containing estrogen to treat vaginitis due to menopause

 

Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Self-care at home for vaginal discharge might include:

  • Over-the-counter anti fungal cream for yeast infection
  • Cold compress to relieve itching, swelling, or discomfort of the vulva
  • Abstaining from sexual intercourse until irritation is gone, or having penetrative sex with condom
  • Keeping the genital area clean by washing daily without soap or with mild, nano allergenic soap, and rinsing and drying completely

 

When you should see a doctor about vaginal discharge?

You should see your doctor if:

  • Your vaginal discharge changes color, becomes heavier or smells different
  • You notice itching, burning, swelling, or soreness arounf the vagina
  • You develop pelvic pain

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