Discharge Really Shouldn’t Be Red, Yellow Or Green, According To Experts
There comes a time in most women’s lives when we look down at our undies and panic. While it doesn’t always indicate a problem, weird-coloured discharge can seriously freak you out. But, before you start spiralling, we advise you look at what different types of vag discharge mean, and when to see your ob-gyn about it.
What exactly is discharge, anyway?
Vaginal discharge is fluid secreted from tiny glands in the vagina and cervix. This fluid leaks from the vagina to remove old cells and debris, which helps to keep the vagina and reproductive tract clean and healthy. Most of the time, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. The amount can vary, as can the odour and colour (which can range from clear to a milky whiteish), depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. For example, there will be more discharge when you’re ovulating, breastfeeding, or sexually aroused (of course). It may also smell different down south when you’re pregnant or you’ve been letting your personal hygiene slide.
Typical vaginal discharge does not have an offensive smell and does not cause any irritation. It’s quite likely that you won’t even know you have any discharge until you see some in your underwear — it is usually clear or creamy in colour. Sometimes there may be a slight yellow tint to it. Your menstrual cycle can also significantly affect on the type of vaginal discharge you experience throughout the month. About halfway between your periods, you will see a normal increase in clear vaginal discharge. This increased wetness and clear vaginal discharge signal ovulation, signalling that you are at the most fertile stage of your cycle.
When is discharge considered ‘abnormal’?
It’s important to recognise the signs of abnormal vaginal discharge because it could be a sign of infection or other health condition. If you experience a vaginal discharge that suddenly and randomly increases, it may indicate a problem. Another change that could be an abnormality, is a discharge that is bright yellow or greenish in colour. Thick clumped or chunky discharge; or a very watery discharge, can also be alerting you to something being amiss with the ladybits.
Types of abnormal discharge and their possible causes:
Bacterial Vaginosis vs yeast infections
Vaginal yeast infections are the LBDs of lady diseases, while Bacterial Vaginosis is an extremely common cause of abnormal vaginal odour and discharge. The two are often confused, but not the same. Here’s how to spot the difference:
A change in your vaginal pH may trigger BV. Changes in pH can cause the bacteria that naturally grow inside your vagina to become more dominant than it should. The most common bacteria that causes an overgrowth is Gardnerella vaginalis.
Some symptoms of BV include:
- A “fishy” odour that gets stronger after sex or during menstruation
- Thin gray, yellow, or greenish vaginal discharge
- Vaginal itching
Yeast infections can develop if there’s an overgrowth of the Candida fungus in the vagina.
Some symptoms include:
- Thick, white, “cottage cheese-like” vaginal discharge
- A “yeasty” smell, but there is typically no smell associated with Candida
- Redness and swelling around the vaginal opening
- Pain, soreness, and itching of the vulva
- Burning during urination
- Burning during sex
For most women, BV is easily treated and doesn’t cause any further complications. However, if left untreated, you could face a variety of problems including premature birth, miscarriage and a higher risk of contracting an STI. Both BV and yeast infections are highly treatable. You can visit www.myvaginalgel.co.za for more information on topical treatments.
And if you have any of the symptoms above, take this assessment to find out if you could have BV.
You may not be able to prevent irritation in your nether region, but regular checkups can help ensure that problems are diagnosed as soon as possible. Don’t let embarrassment prevent you from talking to your doctor about any concerns you might have about your vaginal health.