An approach for diagnosis and management of “vaginal discharge”

“Vaginal discharge” is the term used to describe the fluid that comes out of vagina. There are two types of vaginal discharge which are normal and abnormal.

Normal vaginal discharge: This is usually clear, white discharge which is not associated with any bad smell. Women can have vaginal discharge at different times like these.

-During periods women can have little vaginal discharge

-During their ovulation which is 2 weeks before she gets her period

-During pregnancy due to hormonal changes

-If they are on oral contraceptive medication

-Women will have comparatively less vaginal discharge after menopause.

Abnormal vaginal discharge: It is usually associated with the following symptoms and it requires treatment based upon the cause.

-Itching and pain around vagina, fever, bad smelly discharge, pain while passing urine, pain while having intercourse, change of colour which looks like curd/cheese, greenish, grey etc., bleeding after intercourse can also be noticed. There are several conditions which can cause abnormal vaginal discharge and some of them are

-Infections like candidiasis, Trichomoniasis, Bacterial vaginosis, Chlamydia trachomatis, Gonorrhea.

– A retained foreign body such as a tampon, condom, or vaginal sponge.

-If they use scented soaps, fragrances or wipes to clean that area.

Vaginal discharge during pregnancy:

Increased amount of vaginal secretions are thought to be normal due to the increased blood flow to the vagina and surrounding glands during pregnancy. It is normal if it is not associated with pain, itching, redness, fever, burning sensation while passing urine, foul smelling discharge etc. If a pregnant woman experiences any of these, visiting their treating doctor/Gynecologist is must for a physical examination to rule out possible causes.

Investigations needed:

In most of the cases empirical treatment is started without doing any investigations. Women with persistent or recurrent vaginal/vulvar symptoms should be examined and investigated.

Urine analysis, Random blood sugar, Vaginal or endocervical swab,Ultrasound abdomen and pelvis

How we can treat abnormal vaginal discharge:

Treatment completely depends upon the cause. For example if infection is the cause then we need to treat that infection, we must know for every infection the treatment is different and using medication for long time without doctor’s advice is not recommended.

For some specific infections like sexually transmitted diseases the partner will also need treatment. Treating partners is necessary and it will reduce relapses.

Recurrent infections even after treatment must be examined and evaluated for the possible cause.


How to prevent abnormal vaginal discharge:

-Avoid using wipes, scented soaps or fragrances. Instead of them use V wash which is safe but only for external use.

-Avoid intercourse till the time you receive treatment.

-Avoid satin or polyester undergarments instead of that use loose cotton undergarments. Change undergarments 2-3 times in a day.

-Keep the area clean and dry.

– You can use panty liners instead of sanitary pads during your last days of period when you have only spotting.

-Douching (forceful insertion of liquid inside vagina to rise it out) must be avoided.

-Don’t use hair removal creams for removal of hair in the perineal the area.

Drink plenty of water at least 2 to 3 liters, eat a well-balanced meal, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, skimmed milk and curd as it is also a rich source of probiotics  which are needed for normal bacteria growth in the vaginal secretions


– Dr.​​Alekhya Yelamanchili


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