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Vaginal Discharge

What is it?

A vaginal discharge is a combination of fluids and cells that your body sheds through your vagina. This is your body's way of keeping the vagina clean and healthy. The color and consistency of a normal vaginal discharge can vary from whitish and sticky to clear and watery.

Is This Normal?

In most cases, yes. Most vaginal discharges are completely normal. They are a natural function of the body, which cleans and protects the vagina. A normal discharge from the vagina does not smell bad.

It is also normal for the discharge to vary in color and consistency between menstrual periods. The discharge is thicker during ovulation (when one of your ovaries releases an egg), when you breast feed, when you're sexually excited and during pregnancy.

What is an Abnormal Vaginal Discharge?

If the discharge has an unusual odor, appearance, or is accompanied by itching or pain, it may be a sign that something is wrong. This includes changes that are not normal or typical for you.

What Causes an Abnormal Discharge?

Although most causes of abnormal vaginal discharge are relatively harmless, they can be extremely uncomfortable. The causes of abnormal vaginal discharge include:
  • Bacterial vaginosis (Vaginitis)
  • Cervical cancer
  • Cervicitis
  • Chlamydia
  • Emotional stress
  • Genital warts
  • Gonorrhea
  • HPV infection
  • Medications - including birth control pills
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Rectovaginal fistula
  • Sexual arousal
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Vaginal atrophy
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vesicovaginal fistula
  • Yeast infection (vaginal)
The causes shown above are commonly associated with an abnormal vaginal discharge. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

When to schedule a doctor's visit

The follow symptoms are warning signs that indicate a need for an evaluation by your doctor.
  • Bleeding or spotting when you're not having your period
  • Greenish, yellowish, thick or "cheesy" vaginal discharge
  • Increase in the amount of discharge
  • Redness, itching, burning or irritation of your vagina or vulva
  • Strong vaginal odor

Feedback on Vaginal Discharge

Comments have been moved to the Yeast Infection Forum.

This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2002-2007 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Vaginosis and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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