Vaginal discharge is mucus that is produced by the female reproductive system throughout the cycle. This mucus is usually clear and odorless. During ovulation, it can become thinner to ease the penetration of sperm to the uterus and the egg.
But if your vaginal discharge starts to smell abnormally or has changed its color or texture, it can be a sign of a certain health issue. It is essential to understand that most of these conditions can have similar symptoms and treatment should be performed only by a gynecologist. In this article, we have gathered five gynecological disorders that can cause abnormal vaginal discharge.
1. Yeast infection
Yeast infection is a condition that occurs when the number of Candida fungi starts to grow dramatically. Indeed, a small number of these fungi naturally inhabit your vagina. But they can start to increase because of the impact of some triggers like medication, excessive consumption of sweets, weakened immunity system, etc.
The most common symptoms of yeast infection include thick white discharge, pain during sex, and severe itching. Fortunately, this condition can be easily treated with the help of antifungal medication. If you have a yeast infection, you can ask your gynecologist about the available options.
2. Bacterial vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis develops when the bacteria that naturally inhabit your vagina starts to overgrow. This can lead to abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant smell and discomfort. Bacterial vaginosis can occur because of douching, unprotected sex, antibiotics intake, and having multiple sexual partners.
Due to the fact that the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are similar to the signs of yeast infection, it is essential to undergo a thorough diagnosis before treatment. Bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotics and you should consult your gynecologist before their use.
3. Sexually transmitted infections
There are a lot of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can affect a female reproductive system and cause abnormal vaginal discharge. The most common of them are gonorrhea and chlamydia. These STIs can cause cloudy discharge that has a yellow or green color.
Even though most STIs can be easily treated with antibiotics, it is essential that all sexual partners undergo treatment simultaneously to avoid reinfection. The main problem is that STIs can develop asymptomatically in some people and they can infect their sexual partners.
4. Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an inflammatory process that occurs in the pelvic organs when the vaginal infection (such as STI or bacterial vaginosis) wasn’t treated in time. The most common symptoms of this condition include:
Chronic pelvic pain
Pain during sex
Abnormal discharge with an unpleasant smell
Pain during urination
All these symptoms can be treated with the help of antibiotics. All your sexual partners should also be examined and treated if needed. You should also know that PID can lead to infertility since the scars and adhesions caused by inflammation can interfere with conception and pregnancy development.
5. Cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is a dangerous condition that occurs when cervical cells change and overgrow. In most cases, cervical cancer develops because of human papillomavirus infection. Even though this condition can develop asymptomatically in the initial stages, pain during sex, spotting, and abnormal vaginal discharge can occur when cancer progresses.
It is essential to start cervical cancer treatment as early as possible. If you have a small number of cancerous cells, you can undergo a LEEP procedure to eliminate them. But if the cervical cancer is advanced, you may need more complicated treatment.
The bottom line
Due to the fact that abnormal vaginal discharge can accompany many gynecological disorders, it is essential to avoid self-treatment. Only a gynecologist can define the exact cause of your symptoms and perform an accurate treatment.