What's normal and what's notSunday, May 02, 2021
Dr Ché Bowen
VAGINAL health is probably at the top of the women's health taboo list. Chances are that most of what you've learnt about your vaginal health has been from private research or coincidence.
A very important and distinctive indicator of vaginal health is the type, quantity, quality, and colour of vaginal discharge produced. Your discharge may also indicate issues, including infection and disease. As a woman you should know and get familiar with what the different colours and scents in your discharge indicate and when it is time to consult your gynaecologist.
Healthy vaginal discharge
Many women are possibly not aware of what healthy and unhealthy discharge may even look like.
The first step is understanding your own body; you can't identify when something is wrong if you don't know what it looks like when everything is right.
In monitoring your normal discharge, note the colour, amount and consistency or thickness. You may notice variations in your discharge based on where you are in your menstrual cycle, if you are pregnant, or if you are menopausal — so pay attention!
Gynaecologist Dr Kevin Henry states: “It is important for women to know their normal discharge so that if they detect a difference, they [can] seek medical attention. A normal discharge is usually white or clean, thin, smooth, with no offensive odour, itching or burning. If any other discharge is present or there has been a noticeable change in the discharge, seek help,” he advises.
When it comes to vaginal odour, every woman has their unique scent, therefore, a healthy odour is hard to characterise. Certain foods and spices can also affect the smell of your vagina, urine or discharge. If you do find that you are experiencing an odour that doesn't smell familiar or is heightened, speak with your gynaecologist.
Unhealthy vaginal discharge
Now that you know what colour discharge is considered healthy, you need to know what is considered unhealthy and a possible warning sign.
If your vaginal discharge is grey, green, or pink and you are not on your period, this is a warning sign. This type of discharge can signal bacterial vaginosis (BV), a sexually transmitted infection or disease, and in some cases even cancer. Other types, including a white, cottage cheese-like discharge, can signal a yeast infection.
Being the communicator that the vagina is, typically there will be other cues that something is wrong in addition to your discharge. Some of these cues may be itching or soreness, pain in the vaginal area and/or burning when urinating. If you are noticing any of these symptoms, please speak with your gynaecologist.
Booking a consultation with your doctor
Talking about your vagina is a sensitive subject and talking about your vaginal secretions may feel even more personal. It may even feel uncomfortable to discuss with your gynaecologist.
Telemedicine options provide you with a discreet way of discussing your symptoms with a doctor without having to physically be in their office. You get to avoid uncomfortable interactions, all while still being diagnosed and treated. All communication is done via your choice of text, video call or voice call — whenever and wherever you are most comfortable.
If you are experiencing any recurring infections or discomfort, you may also get prescription refills via your telemedicine service. No need to worry, if deemed necessary your gynaecologist will have you come into office.
Vaginal discharge is an important part of your day-to-day health, and while some normal fluctuations may occur, major changes are not to be ignored. Pay attention to your body and listen to all that is being communicated to you so you'll know when something is off.
Book a consultation with your gynaecologist today to learn about how to keep your vaginal ecosystem healthy and working at its best.
Dr Ché Bowen, a digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO & founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Check out the company's website at www.theMDLink.com. You can also contact him at email@example.com.