While vaginal discharges are normal, it is important to know that abnormalities can occur. According to the founder, SMILE with Me Foundation, Dr. Chioma Nwakanma, it is important for every woman/girl to be alert enough to recognise these changes and on time.
Discharge is normal, as it is one method with which the vagina cleanses itself and rids itself of foreign bodies, however, changes in the amount, consistency, colour, or smell could indicate an infection or other problem, says Nwakanma.
“Normal vaginal discharge is the clear, white, or milky (light) fluid that comes out of the vagina. It is odourless, with no associated itching, burning, or pain. It is normal to have a vaginal discharge. Also during the ovulation period, this discharge becomes thicker, stretchy and the colour is raw egg-white (almost colourless). This is a sign of ovulation and this means the mucus plug in the Cervix is ready to allow easy passage of sperm cells into the uterus.
“Abnormal vaginal discharge occurs when there are changes in the amount, consistency, color, or smell which could indicate an infection or other problem,” she added.
She said when discharges are white or milky, with no odour or symptoms, then it is normal; if the discharge is thick and white, it could be a vaginal yeast infection.
Other symptoms, according to the medical doctor, are vaginal itching, burning, soreness, or pain, and some women experience pain when urinating or having sex along with and redness, swelling, or rash around the vulva.
When discharge is red or dark brown, Nwakanma said it could be menstrual bleed or dysfunctional uterine bleeding, irregular menstruation, or a sign of something more serious like tumours, cancers or trauma. “If it is white, yellow, or grey, it could be bacterial vaginosis. Other symptoms of abnormal discharge are fishy odor, itching, and swelling etc.,” She added.
Nwakanma however advised that it is important for women to pay attention to their discharges as well as the rest of their bodies. “That way she can know if there is something abnormal going on.
“Sometimes, a milky discharge might mean nothing, especially if your normal has always been milky. However, if there is a change from the normal colour to something else and there is associated itching, burning sensation, pain before or during sex, rashes, odor, then you need to see a doctor as soon as possible,” she added.