Vaginal Discharge

While most women have normal healthy vaginal discharge, some have it more often than others. If you’re concerned that your vaginal discharge is abnormal, talk to a provider at Capital Women's Care Howard County located in Fulton, Maryland. They offer thorough exams and treatments to identify and treat the condition causing your discharge.

What is vaginal discharge?

Vaginal discharge is a clear or white substance produced by glands inside the vagina and cervix. Vaginal discharge helps keep your vagina clean. Its purpose is to carry old cells and bacteria out of your vagina to keep it clean and free from infection. Every woman is different: Some women only produce discharge occasionally, while others produce it every day.

What is abnormal vaginal discharge?

If your vaginal discharge changes color, texture, or odor, it could indicate an infection. Some of the vaginal discharge characteristics that indicate an abnormality include:

  • Color — brown, yellow, pink, or gray

  • Texture — thick, cheesy, or frothy

  • Odor — rotten or fishy

What causes abnormal vaginal discharge?

Vaginal infections are the most common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge. Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis both cause your discharge to become thick and discolored with a stronger odor. Other causes of abnormal discharge include:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like gonorrhea or trichomoniasis

  • Irregular menstrual cycles

  • Cervical or endometrial cancer

How is abnormal vaginal discharge treated?

Your Capital Women’s Care doctor begins your treatment by identifying the cause of the abnormal discharge. This typically includes a pelvic exam, blood tests, and a Pap smear. Once they know the cause, they start treatment. Vaginal infections are treated with either antibiotic or antifungal medications. STDs are usually treated with antibiotics.

If your doctor suspects cancer or if your Pap smear has abnormal results, they’ll perform a colposcopy – a noninvasive procedure that allows your doctor to examine your cervix more closely – to look for abnormalities and take a biopsy to confirm the results. Your doctor will discuss your treatment options in the unlikely event of cancer.

Are vaginal infections preventable?

You can keep your vagina clean by washing with a mild soap regularly. You should also avoid scented feminine hygiene products and douches, which can upset the balance of your vagina. It’s also critical to always wipe front to back. You can also practice safe sex and use barrier methods of birth control to prevent the spread of STDs.

When should I see a doctor about vaginal discharge?

You know your vagina, so if you notice a change in the color, texture, or odor of your discharge, you should make an appointment. In most cases, the team at Capital Women’s Care can offer same-day appointments. Also, if you experience other symptoms like fever, itching or pain around your vagina, or painful intercourse, call or schedule an appointment online today.

If you’re concerned about vaginal discharge, call or request an appointment online today to meet with a provider at Capital Women’s Care.