Vaginal discharge happens to every woman, but it is abnormal at times. It must occur only a few times a month. But if vaginal discharge changes appearance and acquires an odour, it could be due to any of the following reasons:
#1 Bacterial vaginosis
This is a common infection often caused by an overgrowth of vaginal bacteria. Its risk increases with having multiple sexual partners. Lack of hygiene in the vulva, overheating in the area due to the use of synthetic underwear and use of synthetic menstrual hygiene products can contribute to the problem. The infection causes a greenish discharge with a strong fishy smell. However, it may not cause itching or a burning sensation that is often associated with abnormal vaginal discharge.
Certain Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) cause abnormal vaginal discharge. These STIs include chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Like with other STIs, they occur due to unprotected oral or penetrative sex with infected partners. They cause a smelly discharge that is often clotted in texture and green or yellow in colour. These STIs are treated with a course of antibiotics for a few weeks, however, the discharge might cause soreness and itching, apart from a sharp odour.
#3 Yeast infection
This is one of the most common infections found in the vaginal and cervical canal. Yeast is present in the vagina in some proportion, but under certain conditions it can proliferate rapidly and cause an abnormal discharge. It is a fungal infection that results in a curdy white discharge with the consistency of cottage cheese and a sour smell. The discharge leaves stubborn stains and also causes itching and a burning sensation – in severe cases, the discharge might be heavy on non-period days and the itching severe enough to wake you from sleep. Yeast infections are commonly caused due to underlying medical conditions like diabetes, or increase in stress levels, ingestion of certain antibiotics and birth control pills, or even the beginning of pregnancy.
PID is an abbreviation of the term ‘Pelvic Inflammatory Disease’, an infection most commonly spread by unprotected sexual intercourse. It is detected when the infection spreads from the vagina to the rest of the reproductive system and produces pain in the pelvic floor, a feeling of heaviness in the lower abdominal area, and a foul and thick vaginal discharge.
#5 Cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is caused by an overgrowth of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is spread by unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner. The virus and the resulting cancer do not cause any symptoms for weeks or months, but their presence is detected by a foul-smelling, watery and bloody or brown discharge. Pap smear tests and screening can detect the presence of cervical cancer.
What you can do about abnormal vaginal discharge
If you notice abnormal vaginal discharge – anything that is different in terms of appearance, smell and frequency – you must schedule an appointment with your doctor at once. Timely action can stem the infection while it is still new. In most cases, a regular course of medication and positive lifestyle changes can send the infection packing.
Meanwhile, you can use a good set of panty liners to trap the vaginal discharge. The best panty liner pads are thin, highly absorbent, comfortable to wear and rash-free during use, such as the liners for panties from brands like Nua. Panty liners keep you feeling fresh and comfortable even on heavy discharge days, so all you have to worry about it is stemming the infection – and not about feeling wet down there.