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Vaginal Discharge And Yeast Infecions

Introduction

All women have vaginal discharge. It is a normal part of the reproductive cycle and a fact of life. However, if you are unclear about what’s normal and what’s not, She Comfort can help. In this section, we offer some guidelines about vaginal discharge and one of the most common, bothersome, and often misdiagnosed ailments related to it-yeast infections.

When is discharge normal?

The inside of your vagina, like the inside of your mouth and nose, is covered with a mucus membrane-a type of body tissue that produces moisture. So it’s normal to feel a little dampness in your underpants during the course of a day. In fact, if the vaginal lining stayed dry, you would be susceptible to vaginal infections and sexual intercourse would be painful!

Most women produce more mucus around the middle of their menstrual cycle-usually a couple of weeks after a period. This increase coincides with ovulation-the release of the egg (or ovum) from the ovary. During pregnancy, there is often an increase in vaginal discharge and sometimes it becomes quite thick. There are also certain types of birth control pills which tend to make some women feel damp.

Sexual excitement stimulates the membranes to produce fluid to lubricate the vagina in preparation for intercourse. And after sexual intercourse, there may be quite a large amount of discharge.

Normal discharge is clear and smooth or creamy and has a very slight smell which can be described as sweet or soapy. What is not normal is any discharge that is smelly, itchy, discolored, or irritating. Anything like that should be discussed with a doctor, along with any bleeding between periods. The most likely cause of abnormal vaginal discharge is an infection.

Some Common Problems

Yeast Infection

Yeast infection is a very common cause of vaginal infection. It is caused by a form of yeast known as candida. Candida occurs naturally in the vagina and bowel, and usually it is no trouble because it is kept in check by other, harmless bacteria which inhabit the same places. However, if these bacteria are reduced-by antibiotics, for example-the yeast can grow and cause problems.

Pregnant women and those with diabetes often get yeast infections, and it is most likely to appear just before a period. Ask your doctor about a one-dose medication that treats yeast infections.

Symptoms: A thick white vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese. Irritation and itchiness around the vagina. Discomfort when urinating and during sexual intercourse.

Trichomonas

Trichomonas is a tiny parasite that may be transmitted during sex or picked up by contaminated washcloths or towels. Men can get it too, but rarely show any symptoms. Because their symptoms may be hidden, it is necessary for men to be treated for trichomonas at the same time as their partners, so the disease is not passed back and forth.

Symptoms: Itching, soreness, and a burning sensation in the vagina. Foul-smelling, discolored vaginal discharge.
Chlamydia Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that may cause symptoms in both men and women. It can lead to urinary infection or fertility problems if not treated.

Symptoms: Watery, sometimes odorous, vaginal discharge. Pain during urination.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease. It is very infectious.
Symptoms: Possible slight white, green, or brown discharge. Men have a discharge, swelling, and pain when urinating.

Non-Infectious Causes of Vaginal Discharge

Cervical Erosion: Sometimes a small area on the neck of the uterus (cervix) becomes raw and oozes. It may cause a heavy, clear, odorless discharge. Sometimes there is a little blood. The discharge tends to be worse just before a period. Bleeding after sexual intercourse is also common in this condition. Cervical erosion can be treated by minor surgery.

What to do?

If you think you may have an infection, see your doctor or visit a specialized clinic. Vaginal infections are very common and there is absolutely nothing to be worried or embarrassed about. Most can be treated with antibiotics or anti-fungal remedies which your doctor can prescribe. Your doctor may decide to test the discharge first to help diagnose the exact infection.

Many vaginal infections can be passed back and forth between a couple-and sometimes only one of you will show symptoms even though you are both infectious. So it is important for both partners to be treated. If infections are not treated immediately, they may cause more serious problems later on-so it’s best to deal with them at the first sign of symptoms.

Ways to help yourself?

If you think you may have an infection, see your doctor or visit a specialized clinic. Vaginal infections are very common and there is absolutely nothing to be worried or embarrassed about. Most can be treated with antibiotics or anti-fungal remedies which your doctor can prescribe. Your doctor may decide to test the discharge first to help diagnose the exact infection.

Many vaginal infections can be passed back and forth between a couple-and sometimes only one of you will show symptoms even though you are both infectious. So it is important for both partners to be treated. If infections are not treated immediately, they may cause more serious problems later on-so it’s best to deal with them at the first sign of symptoms.

Ways to Help Yourself?

If you think you may have an infection, see your doctor or visit a specialized clinic. Vaginal infections are very common and there is absolutely nothing to be worried or embarrassed about. Most can be treated with antibiotics or anti-fungal remedies which your doctor can prescribe. Your doctor may decide to test the discharge first to help diagnose the exact infection.

Many vaginal infections can be passed back and forth between a couple-and sometimes only one of you will show symptoms even though you are both infectious. So it is important for both partners to be treated. If infections are not treated immediately, they may cause more serious problems later on-so it’s best to deal with them at the first sign of symptoms.

Ways to help yourself?

Keep air circulating around your crotch by wearing cotton (not synthetic) underpants and loose clothing. Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom to avoid moving bacteria from your rectum to your vagina. Avoid scented soaps or bath salts-they might irritate the sensitive vaginal tissue. Never use a tampon to absorb non-menstrual vaginal discharge. If you need to protect your clothes, use a pantiliner.

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