The human body has various discharges – some bothersome, some totally normal. These range from the saliva to sweat to the discharge from your vagina. Quite similar to other changes experienced throughout your menstrual cycle, you must have noticed different types of discharges on your underwear.
Below are a few tips to recognize the discharge and treat it at home with simple remedies and lifestyle tweaks.
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What is a Vaginal Discharge?
The discharge that we see often is a result of the functions performed by the vagina and the cervix. It is generally the vaginal fluids and cervical mucus. The discharge is considered a normal bodily or physiological function which keeps the body healthy.
Having some kind of discharge is a normal thing and indicated that the vagina is healthy. It could be clear, or slightly white-ish in colour. The texture could be water like or stretchy or cottage cheese like. It may or may not have an odour. All of these things depend entirely on the time of the month and your period cycle. You may also see that on days the discharge is less while on others it is excessive. The vaginal discharge can be divided into various categories depending on its characteristics.
Types of Vaginal Discharge
Green Coloured – it is clearly suggestive of an infection accompanied with itching, foul smell. It could also be indicative of an STI trichomoniasis.
Yellow Coloured – it could potentially be a sign of an infection. If it is thick, chunky or smells bad, it indicates infection. Many women with chlamydia or gonorrhea also experience this kind of a discharge.
Brown or Blood Coloured – a late discharge looks brown because it has been oxidized while it was inside your body. You may also experience some between your cycles, i.e., spotting. If you haven’t had your period but experience the spotting, it could indicate pregnancy.
However, spotting at an early stage of pregnancy could be a sign of miscarriage. If a woman is post-menopausal it could indicate concern for cancer.
Clear and Watery – it is completely normal and can happen at any time during the cycle.
Clear and Stretchy – if the discharge looks like mucous more than water, it could indicate that you are ovulating. It is perfectly normal and healthy.
Pink Coloured – shedding of the uterine lining after childbirth (lochia).
White Discharge and what it really means
It is not necessary that a discharge which is pure white in color is abnormal. If you see white discharge towards the end of your cycle, it could be normal. But, if along with the discharge you also feel itching or burning sensation and the texture of the discharge is like that of cottage cheese, then it is possible that you have a yeast infection. A milky white discharge can indicate a healthy vagina, ovulation or even infections depending upon the texture, odor and other symptoms like itching. Another possibility that these symptoms could be indicating are the sexually transmitted diseases.
Causes of White Discharge
Below are a few reason which might be upsetting the balance of the good and bad bacteria present inside the vagina
- If the discharge is not accompanied by itching or burning sensation, or foul smell; it means it is normal and you are ovulating. The egg which is expelled from the body when not fertilized breaks down resulting in the white-ish discharge which may appear chunky.
- Antibiotics are usually strong drugs which can also cause acidity or an upset stomach.
- Birth control pills.
- Bacterial vaginosis, this is a bacterial infection which is most commonly found in women who are pregnant or women who indulge in casual sex or sex with multiple partners.
- Cervical cancer.
- Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.
- Pelvic infection after surgery.
- Pelvic Inflammation Disease.
- Trichomoniasis, it is a parasitic infection associated with unprotected sex.
- Vaginal atrophy, in this condition the vaginal walls dry out frequently due to menopause and hormonal changes.
- Vaginitis, irritation inside the vaginal area or outside the vagina.
- Yeast infections.
- Emotional stress.
- Human Papilloma Virus.
- Cervical Dysplasia.
Symptoms of White Discharge
If along with the white discharge you experience these symptoms, you should be concerned.
- Pain in the abdomen,
- Unexplained weight loss,
- Increased urination.
How can you detect the infection?
You can easily map the discharge and know its cause. These are a few questions you must ask yourself to know whether you have the infection or not –
- When did the abnormal discharge begin?
- What is the colour?
- Is there any foul smell with it?
- Is there any itching, pain or burning sensation in or around your vagina?
- Does it hurt while you pee?
- Do you have sex with more than one partner?
- Do you indulge is douching regularly?
If the answer to all of these or a majority of these questions is a yes, you have an infection and it is about time that you deal with it. To leave such infections untreated for a long time only make things worse and can result into more serious medical conditions than just these infections.
Should You Visit a Doctor?
If the symptoms have been in place for quite some time and despite trying all the home remedies, you haven’t felt better or the feeling of discomfort hasn’t gone, you should definitely see a doctor. It is possible that the infection has gone deeper into the vagina and needs more than just simple remedies.
The doctor will ask the abovementioned questions to ascertain the problem. He may also ask for a physical examination of your vagina or take a pap smear test for confirmation from the laboratory.
The usual medicines available over the counter which include anti-allergic, anti-fungal and antibiotics; some medicines are taken orally, some are applied inside the vagina and some are in the form of capsules which are inserted inside the vagina like tampons.
Home Remedies to treat White Discharge
- Alum – mix alum with warm water and use it to douche your vagina till the problem of the discharge is solved.
- Cranberry juice – you can either eat the cranberries or turn the berries into juice. Drink the juice twice every day for best results.
- Betel Nuts – grind betel nuts, rose petals and sugar to make a powdery paste and then apply it inside your vagina.
- Cumin seeds – make a powder of the seeds and mix them with honey and apply directly to your vaginal area.
- Sandalwood Oil – heat the oil and apply it directly to the vagina twice a day.
- Turmeric Powder – turmeric can either be applied directly or consumed with garlic in case the discharge is itchy or has a burning sensation.
- Mango Paste – mash some mangoes into paste and apply the paste directly inside your vagina.
- Fenugreek Seeds – cook seeds in water for over 30 minutes and then consume the water several times a day for best results.
- Ladyfinger – it is said to be a good remedy for discharges. You can eat it any way – raw or cooked.
- Yogurt – this remedy is the best as it has probiotics and good bacteria which helps in maintaining the balance.
- Coriander Seeds – soak a few seeds overnight in water and then drink the water on an empty stomach without the seeds.
- Amla – you can strain the juice and drink it regularly, or – you can take the fruit and cut it into pieces, then boil the pieces to remove the excess of sour taste and eat it normally.
- Pomegranate – it is said that the fruit as well as its leaves are very good for women, especially the reproductive system. Either eat the seeds or make some juice. You can make a paste of the leaves and consume them every day.
- Tulsi – mix tulsi leaves with water or hot milk and drink it twice every day to get rid of infections or other problems.
- Guava Leaves – boil some guava leaves in water and strain the mixture. Drink this water regularly to reduce the discharge.
Tips and Precautions
- Keep the vagina clean without using any soaps or cleaning products. All you need is warm water to maintain the pH.
- You should not use products which are sold in order to remove odour or lighten the skin, etc. These products have chemicals which severely damage the vaginal environment.
- When you go to the bathroom, always wipe yourself after using the toilet. The wiping should be done in the front to back motion to keep the bacteria of the anus away from the vagina.
- Switch from fancy panties to normal cotton panties which let your skin breathe and easily dry out. These panties also do not harbour any infections.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing all the time. Make sure you change into comfortable clothes once you come home.
- Change the clothes you wear to the gym immediately, including your underwear.
- If using public toilets, you should not sit on the seats. It is better to hover over the seat and pee. If you absolutely have to sit, make sure you cover the entire seat with tissue paper. You can also buy a sanitizing spray for this purpose.
- If you share your clothes, undergarments or towels with others, you may end up getting an unwanted infection.
- Always clean your hands with soap before you insert a tampon or use them to clean your vagina.
- You should change your pads in every 5 to 6 hours in order to avoid getting an infection or suffering from the Toxic Shock Syndrome.