Your body might know what is wrong faster than your mind. And one way it's doing that is by releasing discharge that can warn you about serious health conditions you didn't know you had.
Having to deal with periods is one thing. You have a sanitary pad, tampon or menstrual cup to take care of the mess. Dealing with vaginal discharge is another. After all, how many pairs of underwear can you change because of the discharge? And at some point, when you see different colors staining your pants, you might have asked yourself, "Is this normal?" Following that question would be others including, "Is it the time of the month?" and "What did I eat two days ago?" and even "How was the sex last night?"
While these are valid questions, the discharge and especially the color of it is your body's way of warning you that something is wrong and it has far more serious consequences.
WebMD states that vaginal discharge is an important factor in keeping the female reproductive system functioning smoothly. The fluid made by the glands inside the vagina and cervix wipes away dead cells and bacteria. It's much like how tears can keep your eyes hydrated and clean. Similarly, discharge can keep the vagina clean and prevent infection.
In a healthy vaginal environment, this discharge is normal. The amount can vary depending on when your menstrual cycle begins. For example, there will be more discharge when you're ovulating, breastfeeding, or sexually aroused. However, when the color and odor start to change when you're not on your cycle, that can be a sign that your body might be suffering.
A thick, white, creamy discharge could be a sign of yeast infection, according to Unity Point Health. Especially if it is clubbed with symptoms such as swelling and pain around the vulva, itching, and painful sexual intercourse.
Outside of your menstrual cycle, this type of discharge is a warning of cervical or endometrial cancer. While it is not very common, there is still a chance of cancer and it will require you to visit a doctor. Especially if you experience abnormal vaginal bleeding in between cycles.
Sometimes, this color could stem from food that you've eaten over the week, according to Healthline. However, there are different diseases that could be the cause if you see yellow discharge:
A cloudy yellow could indicate gonorrhea, a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) otherwise known as "the clap". The symptoms of this are bleeding between periods, urinary incontinence and pelvic pain.
A frothy yellow with greenish tinge could point to trichomoniasis, another common STD. The symptoms are pain and itching during urination.
A yellow discharge with a slightly fishy odor could indicate bacterial vaginosis. The symptoms for this are itching or burning sensations or redness and swelling of the vagina or vulva.
Usually, this is a normal color right before your periods begin or as a natural lubricant to make sex easier and less painful. It is also a way for the vagina to perform its self-cleaning functions.
This color of discharge could also point towards bacterial vaginosis especially if you find your private parts itchy or burning. Bacterial vaginosis happens when there is not enough protective bacteria in your vagina. This imbalance can cause the grey color in the discharge along with a foul, fishy odor. According to Cleveland Clinic, almost 30% of women who are of child-bearing age have this infection. If you notice this fishy smell after sexual intercourse, it is a sign for you to visit your doctor immediately to have the required treatment administered.
Depending on what the problem is, you can treat it according. For health issues like yeast infections or gonorrhea, talking to your doctor about the best way to fix it is essential. However, there are some ways to prevent any conditions that could cause abnormal discharge:
- Keeping the vagina clean by washing it regularly with warm water and a gentle soap
- Avoid douching or using scented soaps near your vagina
- Always wipe from the front the back to keep bacteria from the anus from getting into your vagina and causing infections
- Using condoms to protect yourself from STDs