What causes abnormal discharge?
It is normal to have a discharge and it is something that occurs regularly. However, when the color, smell and consistency appears different from the norm, this is a sign of an infection.
Normal discharge often appears white in color. It has no odor and it is harmless. Abnormal discharge, on the other hand, may appear brown, green or yellow in color or even bloody. It may also be accompanied by a foul smell, which is a sign of bacterial or yeast infection.
You may also experience abnormal vaginal discharge if you have a pelvic inflammatory disease, chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus, diabetes, vaginal atrophy, and vaginitis
Douching can also cause alter your normal vaginal discharge.
How does the doctor diagnose abnormal discharge?
If you notice your vaginal discharge is unusual and you are also experiencing symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, and fatigue, visit a doctor.
You may need to undergo a physical examination as well as a pelvic exam. The doctor may also ask you some questions concerning your symptoms such as:
- When did you first notice the discharge was unusual?
- What color is the discharge?
- Does the discharge have an odor?
- Are you experiencing other symptoms such as pain, burning or itching around or in your vagina?
The doctor may also ask you questions concerning your sexual activity and menstrual cycle.
If the doctor is not able to diagnose the cause immediately, you may need to undergo more testing. Your doctor may take cultures from your cervix to check for cervical cancer or human papillomavirus.
Your doctor may also examine your discharge under a microscope to determine the cause. Once your doctor establishes the cause, they may prescribe medication and other treatment options.
Vaginal discharge has a lot to say about your health.
Track it regularly with Flo and discover any abnormalities faster.
How is abnormal discharge treated?
The type of treatment for abnormal discharge depends on the cause. For instance, if the cause of your abnormal vaginal discharge is due to a yeast infection, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medication. If the cause is a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
On your own, you can prevent infections by doing the following:
- Avoid douching
- Keep your vagina clean by washing it regularly with warm water
- Practice safe sex
- Eat yogurt regularly to lower your risk of developing yeast infection.
Three types of white vaginal discharge
The types of white vaginal discharge are:
Creamy or milky white discharge
When your period is about to start, you may notice an odorless white creamy discharge. You may experience vaginal discharge during pregnancy that has a similar consistency. But if the discharge is stretchy, this is a sign that you are ovulating.
Cloudy white discharge
This is an odorless discharge that appears when you are on your menstrual cycle or at the onset of your pregnancy. It is harmless and therefore, it should be nothing to worry about.
Thick white discharge
The color and consistency of your vaginal discharge changes as you go through your menstrual cycle. Before ovulation, the discharge is usually watery and clear. This is because of the high levels of estrogen being produced at that particular time.
Before your period starts, the appearance and consistency of your vaginal discharge may be white and thick. As long as it does not have a strong odor, you should not worry about it.
When you start to experience excessive vaginal discharge, this could be a sign of an underlying condition. There are a number of reasons why you could be having a lot of discharge.
Some of these reasons include:
- Ovulation – when you are ovulating, you may notice that your vaginal discharge is thicker and creamy.
- Pregnancy – during the early stages of pregnancy, your vaginal discharge may change in consistency, but not in color or smell.
- Sexually transmitted diseases – gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that may cause a change in your vaginal discharge. If you have gonorrhea or chlamydia, your vaginal discharge may appear green or yellow in color and it may be accompanied by a strong foul smell.
- Stress – sometimes when you are overly stressed, it may cause changes in your body. You may start to notice that your vagina is producing way too much discharge than normal.
- Douching – this is one of the most common causes of excessive abnormal discharge. When you introduce foreign objects into your vagina, you may experience excessive abnormal vaginal discharge. This happens because foreign objects tend to imbalance the normal PH levels of the vagina.
What causes heavy white discharge?
When your menstrual cycle begins, it is characterized by a creamy white or milky white vaginal discharge. This depends on what stage of your cycle you are on. This discharge is normal, it does not smell, and it is completely harmless.
When you start ovulating, the estrogen levels in your body go up, and your vaginal discharge increases. The discharge is usually creamy and milky which is a sign that you are ovulating.
It is also normal to have excessive milky white vaginal discharge at the onset of your pregnancy. This kind of discharge is accompanied by abdominal cramps and spotting.
When you reach menopause, you may experience some symptoms including abnormal discharge because the hormone levels are fluctuating. The discharge is normally white and thick, but it is not excessive and so you should not worry about it unless the color or smell of the discharge changes.
When you are under a lot of stress, whether it is emotional or psychological, you may notice that your vaginal discharge is unusual. The discharge may be heavy, white, and creamy.
The reason why the discharge appears heavy and creamy is because of hormonal imbalances which alter the normal production of the vaginal mucus.
Sometimes you may find yourself needing vaginal lubrication especially when you are about to have sexual intercourse, but you are experiencing vaginal dryness.
While vaginal lubrication makes penetration easier and painless, it may cause abnormal vaginal discharge. This happens because the lubricant interferes with the normal PH levels of the vagina.
Cervical mucus is considered as a type of vaginal discharge and it often appears when you are in your menstrual cycle. During this time, your vaginal discharge may appear white, thick and creamy.
Male partner ejaculates
When you have unprotected sex, this may imbalance the normal bacteria in your vagina. As a result, this may cause your vaginal discharge to appear unusual.
When you ejaculate or orgasm, you produce a white thick discharge, which has a different appearance to that of your normal vaginal discharge. In other cases, you may release a clear fluid, or urine but this happens when you “squirt.”
5 types of abnormal white discharge
Genital yeast infection
A genital yeast infection (candidiasis) is a type of fungal infection that is characterized by white cheese-like vaginal discharge as well as itching and burning sensations.
Some amount of yeast can be found in the vagina and that is normal. However, there are certain situations that may cause the growth of the yeast to multiply.
- Birth control pills
- Medications such as antibiotics
Sexually transmitted diseases
Although not all sexually transmitted diseases can cause you to have an abnormal vaginal discharge, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause this problem.
When you have chlamydia or gonorrhea, your vaginal discharge may appear to have a different color, usually, yellow or green and may be accompanied by a foul smell. Other symptoms you may experience include painful urination, pelvic pain, and urinary incontinence.
Atrophic vaginitis is a thinning of the vaginal walls, which causes inflammation, abnormal vaginal discharge, vaginal dryness, and genital itching. This condition occurs when the estrogen levels drop significantly and it often occurs after menopause.
Vulvovaginitis is an infection of the vagina or the vulva. It is also referred to as vaginitis or vulvitis.
Vulvovaginitis is caused by yeast, sexually transmitted diseases, parasites or yeast. Symptoms include smelly abnormal vaginal discharge, itching, irritation and inflammation around the vaginal area.
Bacterial vaginosis is a bacterial infection. While it hardly causes any symptoms, if you have bacterial vaginosis, you may notice an increase in your vaginal discharge, which may have a strong fish-like odor.
Girls cream for various reasons. Maybe you are ovulating, pregnant or sexually aroused. Or you could be suffering from some type of infection or disease.
Furthermore, there are different types of vaginal discharge and this difference is owing to the cause of the discharge. The good news is that when you experience abnormal vaginal discharge, you may be able to treat it once the cause has been determined.