What You Need to Know About Vaginal Discharge

vaginal discharge on my pants

The basic function of your vagina, besides sexual pleasure, is to provide a clean, functional route from the outside of your body to your uterus and the rest of your internal reproductive system. The natural acid PH of the vagina acts to prevent infections. The acidic nature of your vagina is caused by natural, bacteria produced by your body called lactobacilli. This is the same bacteria found in yogurt culture and that is why we always hear about women drinking or douching with yogurt to help prevent or cure an infection. Unfortunately, it doesn't work well in the vagina but can help as a 'probiotic' in the intestinal tract. When your vagina is healthy, the vagina keeps itself clean. We always joke that it is like a self-cleaning oven; it stays in a healthy state by producing the secretions of normal vaginal discharge. Many things may disrupt the natural balance of the vagina.

First, it’s important to understand that all women have vaginal discharge. Glands in your vaginal and cervix produce small amounts of fluid that flows out of your vagina every day taking with it old cells that line the vagina. Your normal vaginal discharge helps to clean the vagina, as well as keep it lubricated and free from infection and other germs. A normal vaginal discharge does not have a foul odor and usually has no odor at all. Normal vaginal discharge often appears clear or milky when it dries on your clothing; occasionally you may notice white spots or a normal vaginal discharge that is thin or stringy looking. This is all normal, and the sticky, stringy discharge indicates that you are ovulating. So if you have been on the pill for a long time you may not have seen it for a while as you would not ovulate on the pill. The appearance may change due to sexual excitement, breastfeeding, ovulation, or diet. The consistency of your vaginal discharge or how thin or thick it is can be affected by your menstrual cycle, emotional stress, pregnancy, any prescription or OTC medications including hormones such as in the pill.

Other things that can upset the natural pH balance of your vagina and lead to vaginal infections include vaginal douches, feminine hygiene products, perfumed or deodorant soaps, antibiotics, pregnancy, diabetes, or infections. So we can all see that it is a highly sensitive area affected by many things, some obvious and some we would not expect. For example, having a head cold can cause an increase in vaginal discharge, strange huh? It is no wonder that douching with perfumed or homemade solutions can cause such recurrent or chronic odors and discharge. Although you can buy the douches at the local drug store, it this does not mean they offer help.

Your menstrual cycle has a significant effect on the type of vaginal discharge you experience throughout the month. Did you know you’re more likely to experience vaginal infections just before or during your period? This is because the pH balance of your vagina rises during your monthly cycle causing the pH of your vagina to be at its’ highest point a few days before and during your period. About halfway between your periods an increase in vaginal discharge that appears mucousy, sticky, and stretchy is normal. As stated above, this type of vaginal discharge is an indication of ovulation.

You may identify abnormal vaginal discharge and infection from the following signs:

☛ Changes in color, consistency, or amount
☛ Constant, increased vaginal discharge
☛ Presence of itching, discomfort, or any rash
☛ Vaginal burning during urination
☛ The presence of blood when it’s not your period time
☛ Cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge
☛ A foul odor accompanied by yellowish, greenish, or grayish white vaginal discharge

You are probably are aware of these signs or may have had them at some point. I recommend that you would go see you Ob/Gyn or family doctor when this happens and not just self-treat unless it is something that you have had before and have already been seen for it. Vaginal discharge and infections are common and your doctor is used to seeing all types so your doctor and the nurse may put you at ease. The anticipation of going and thinking about it is always worse.

The most common vaginal infection is bacterial vaginosis, as well as vaginal yeast infections and trichomoniasis. The most troublesome problem for some women is those who have a recurrent or ongoing vaginal odor for no reason. This is a major issue and very embarrassing as they never feel clean, even though it has NOTHING to do with cleanliness. It is not from infection and can be caused by any of the above we've already addressed.

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