The vagina, like the uterus is part of the genital tract and the tissues which make up the tract are very strongly influenced by the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Oestrogen stimulates the tissue to mature and progesterone further develops them. Changes occur in the lining tissues of the vagina and the cervix as well as the uterus during each menstrual cycle. The changes caused by oestrogen make the cells lining the cervix to secrete a thin, slightly sticky mucus.
The cells that make up the lining of the vagina are arranged like bricks making up a wall. The top cells are thin and large. These top cells are constantly shed into the vagina. The vaginal cells and the cervical mucus are both part of the fluid that is secreted from the vagina. This discharge is quiet normal and helpful because they prevent dangerous bacteria from growing in the vagina, keeps the vagina moist which is desirable and also cleanses it.
There are two types of vaginal discharge;
NORMAL VAGINAL DISCHARGE
1. A vaginal discharge that is normal keeps the vagina clean and helps prevent infection.
2. The fluid may be clear, cloudy, white or off-white.
3. Normal vaginal charge may have a mild smell or none at all.
4. The texture may be sticky or stretchy depending on the time of the monthly circle.
5. A normal vaginal discharge does not have an unpleasant smell.
6. It carries away dead cells and bacteria.
7. It serves an important reproductive function in the female body.
8. It keeps the vagina moist.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY VAGINAL DISCHARGE IS ABNORMAL?
1. Abnormal vaginal discharge comes on suddenly.
2. It has an unpleasant odour.
3. It may be greenish, grayish or pus-like in colour.
4. The texture may be foamy or look like pottage cheese.
5. It causes vaginal itching or burning.
6. It is heavier than normal vaginal discharge.
7. It is thicker than a normal discharge.
8. It causes pain around the vagina.
9. Painful intercourse.
10. Burning feeling during urination.
CAUSES OF NORMAL VAGINAL DISCHARGE
1. The glands in the cervix produce mucus.
2. The walls of the vagina releases secretions.
3. The menstrual cycle.
4. Emotional stress.
6. Birth control pills
7. Sexual arousal
CAUSES OF ABNORMAL VAGINAL DISCHARGE
1. An infection of the vagina
3. Atrophic vaginitis- this is a condition where the estrogen level is low as seen in women who are already experiencing menopause.
4. Cervical or vaginal cancer.
5. Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea
6. Yeast infection
7. Use of antibiotics or steroid.
8. Pelvic inflammatory disease.
TREATMENT FOR VAGINAL DISCHARGE
A normal vaginal discharge is normal as the name indicates and needs no treatment. For abnormal vaginal discharge, the following are recommended;
1. Improve on your personal hygiene- the vagina should be kept clean at all times.
2. Avoid douching.
3. Avoid unprotected sex.
4. Do not wear tight fitting underpants.
5. Pads are preferable to tampons.
6. Wipe from front to back after urination or bowel movement.
7.Avoid use of scented soaps and sprays in the vaginal area.
8. Wear cotton under pants.
The type of treatment required for abnormal vaginal discharge depends on the cause of the discharge. See your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.