By DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE All Woman writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, November 14, 2011
VAGINAL discharge is a normal part of a woman's body functions. It is the fluid produced by the glands in the lining of the vagina and the cervix which flows out daily and helps to maintain the health and cleanliness of the vagina, while also aiding in making it easier for penetration during sexual intercourse.
Gynaecologist Professor Horace Fletcher at the University Hospital of the West Indies said a woman's discharge is normal when it comes out in small amounts and is milky-white or clear and odourless. However, a number of women from time to time complain of having abnormal discharge. This occurs when the amount and appearance of the discharge changes.
"It is normal for women to have discharge," Professor Fletcher said. "It changes during the month according to your cycle — sometimes it looks like egg white and sometimes it is thick like flour paste — but it's normal," he explained.
But there are times when this discharge can be excessive and may even become an embarrassment for women.
"If you have anything excessive — like its running out and messing you up, then you should get examined," Professor Fletcher said. "It should not be a social problem. Every woman if you ask them will tell you they have had discharge coming out on their underwear, that is OK. When it becomes a social embarrassment — wetting up you clothes, soiling up your clothes, then that's when you need to be evaluated by the doctor," he advised.
You'll know there is a problem if you have to change underwear throughout the course of the day due to the wetness, or wear panty shields consistently, which can result in yeast infections. Too-wet conditions can also make intercourse messy and uncomfortable, while preventing sensation for both partners. It also makes oral sex next to impossible.
Professor Fletcher said excessive discharge can be caused by different things.
1. Cervical ectropion: the glands that are normally on the inside are showing on the outside of the cervix. "It's not that it is anything abnormal," he explained. "It can be related to the use of contraceptive steroids. For example, women who are post-menopausal who have no oestrogen, the glands on their cervix you can't see them so easily, but women who are pre-menopausal you see the glands. And for some women the glands are out even more as a result of contraceptive steroids they use to try to conceive."
2. Chronic inflammation of the cervix (cervicitis).
3. Sexual excitement: "Some women will get sexually turned on by even visual stimulation," the gynaecologist explained. "If you see some guy that you like, you might get excessive vaginal stimulation."
He said, however, if excessive discharge is not frequent it should not be cause for concern.
"If it's a one-off thing, don't bother to worry about it," Dr Fletcher said. "If it is a persistent challenge where the undies are always getting wet and it is soiling up your clothes then that is abnormal. You need to be evaluated to see if you have cervicitis or ectropion or any other problem."
An abnormal discharge is often discoloured — green, yellow, bloody, pink, brown — and comes with an odour.
Professor Fletcher said contrary to some beliefs, contraceptives do not cause abnormal discharge.
"A lot of women have malodorous discharge and they claim it is because of the contraceptive that they are taking," he said. "But usually what happens is that when they are on contraceptives they have unprotected sex and so they are much more likely to get infected that way. So they will come down with a discharge because they are having unprotected sex but will blame it on the contraceptive — but that is a myth."
He said another cause of excessive vaginal discharge is douching.
"When you douche you cause the normal vaginal environment to be destroyed and so other things can flare up like yeast and bacterial vaginosis," he said.
Yet another cause can be the taking of a lot of antibiotics.
"But the first thing women have to realise is that it is totally normal to have a vaginal discharge — but normal vaginal fluid is clear, slightly white, no odour, no itching, no soreness, no blood," he said.
A clinical synthesis of a usual feminine attribute. However, the Prof. didn't offer an insight into personal hygiene as many a-women do recognise the importance of this in keeping with embarassin odour and potential STDs.