One of the most common reasons women make an appointment with their gynecologist is because of unexplained vaginal discharge. For many women, the sudden appearance of discharge can be alarming. While most of the time the existence of vaginal discharge is normal, it can be difficult to decide when it’s time to call your OBGYN.
Since your vagina self-cleans, there are secretions that work to assist in that process. A vagina that is healthy can produce varying amounts of discharge, and it’s typical for women to notice clear or white discharge. It may even be yellow if it has secreted and dried on your undergarments. During the various stages of a woman’s cycle, this discharge will often change consistency and may sometimes emit an odor.
When you should call your doctor:
1. The odor is “fishy”
A strong “fishy” odor that is accompanied by vaginal discharge could be a sign of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). BV can occur if the normal bacteria of the vagina fluctuates or decreases. If you suspect that you have BV, it’s definitely time to call your OBGYN. The good news, however, is BV can be treated with antibiotics and it’s not a sexually transmitted disease.
2. There’s intense itching
A “cottage cheese” type discharge accompanied by itching, burning, or irritation can be a sign of a yeast infection. Your doctor will be able to provide you with an exam to confirm this type of diagnosis. Through the usage of antifungal medication, a yeast infection can be easily treated.
Painful sex or pain in the abdomen accompanied by vaginal discharge can be a sign of chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomonas. These are all treatable STDs, but require a doctor’s diagnosis.
Pro-active vaginal health
A healthy vagina can easily be maintained by avoiding anything that could potentially irritate or disrupt your body’s natural balance of bacteria. For example, heavily perfumed soap or douche products can reduce the number of healthy bacteria, potentially causing infection.