Vaginal Discharge

>> Wednesday, May 22, 2013

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You know, so many women are bothered by vaginal discharge and are often confused about what constitutes 'normal' changes.

A clear to whitish discharge from the vagina is normal and will fluctuate in consistency and amount throughout the menstrual cycle. It is actually a way by which your body gets rid of bacteria and dead cells in your vagina - keeping it clean and healthy. However, if you notice vaginal discharge that is unusual in color or odor, itching and burning in the vagina, or blood-stained discharge, it could indicate an infection or disease of the reproductive organs. Abnormal discharge always has an unusual odor or will cause swelling and itching in the vaginal area.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in women and are caused by bacteria which are usually either transmitted from the sexual partner or from the woman's anal area. The first symptoms of a UTI can be abnormal vaginal discharge, pain with sex or urination, and urinary odor. Sometimes there will even be vaginal and urinary bleeding.

The majority of women know that a UTI can cause a burning sensation while voiding and a constant urge to urinate, although only a few drops may be produced. The urine is usually cloudy and often strong smelling, but few women associate their abnormal discharge with a UTI.

As a doctor seeing a woman present with all these symptoms, it is hard for me to know which came first, the vaginal infection or the urinary tract infection. So, after we talk, I will check vaginal cultures and send a urine sample for testing at the lab. Most UTI's are caused by a bacteria known as E.Coli that comes from our rectal and anal area (lucky us that everything is so close together down there), as it is easy for that bacteria to get in the bladder and vaginal area from intercourse, and floss-type panties.

If you find that you are getting more than your fair share of these type of infections, it is good to know that they can be avoided by drinking lots of water and cranberry juice. Cranberry juice acidifies the urine, and bacteria don't like that. Do not use feminine hygiene sprays or douches, as they can make it worse. Also, urinating right before and after sex is an important habit in helping prevent infection.

I hope the next time you have abnormal vaginal discharge and urinary pain/pressure, that this information will help you.
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