It's normal for a woman of age to have vaginal discharge. It plays an important housekeeping function by maintaining healthy vaginal tissue wall, providing lubrication and protection against infection. Therefore, a sudden change in the discharge could be a sign of a problem.
It’s important to note that the amount, color and consistency of normal vaginal discharge varies — from whitish and sticky to clear and watery — depending on the stage of your menstrual cycle. An increase in the amount of discharge, change in consistency and bad odor associated with itching and or irritation signals disease onset. It is therefore prudent to be always on the lookout for symptoms of yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, cancer and STI’s.
Different types of infections cause different types of discharges.
For instance Yeast/candida infections are associated with
- White, cottage cheese-like discharge
- Accompanied by intense itching
- And sometimes pain during sexual intercourse.
Whereas bacterial vaginosis is associated with
- A white, gray, or yellowish vaginal discharge
- And a fishy odor that is strongest after sex
- There may be Itching or burning, redness and swelling of the vagina or vulva
Signs of cervical cancer may be a brownish or blood-tinged vaginal discharge and or bleeding/spotting unrelated to your periods.
A change in the normal balance of germs in your vagina may be due to
- feminine hygiene sprays
- certain soaps or bubble baths
Visit your doctor for more in-depth information and management if the above symptoms manifest. Your local clinic or doctor may take a sample of the discharge by doing a high vaginal swab (HSV) or do a Pap smear test. At times, without testing, the doctor will be prescribe medications if symptoms are clear cut.