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Vaginal Discharge (cont.)

Vaginal Discharge Causes

The vaginal walls and uterine cervix contain glands that produce a small amount of fluid that helps to keep the vagina clean. This normal vaginal discharge is typically clear or milky white in color and does not have an unpleasant odor.

A number of different infections can cause a change in the amount, consistency, color, or odor of vaginal discharge. These include:

  • Bacterial vaginosis is a condition is caused by an imbalance in the growth of the bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. It is not known exactly why this imbalance in bacterial growth occurs. This condition was formerly known as Gardnerella vaginitis after one type of bacteria that commonly cause the infection.
  • Trichomonas (trich, trichomoniasis) is infection by a single-celled parasite known as Trichomonas vaginalis. The infection is transmitted by sexual contact.
  • Gonorrhea is the sexually-transmitted disease (STD) resulting from infection by the bacteria known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
  • Chlamydia is another sexually-transmitted infection (STD) due to the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Although infected women may not have symptoms, a vaginal discharge may occur.
  • Yeast infection (candidiasis) occurs when there is an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina, often due to antibiotic use or other factors that affect the natural balance of bacteria in the vaginal area. Candida species are the type of yeast most commonly responsible.

While Trichomonas, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia are examples of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), bacterial vaginosis and yeast infection are not considered to be STDs.

Vaginal bleeding is different from vaginal discharge. The infections listed above are causes of abnormal vaginal discharge without the presence of significant vaginal bleeding.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/12/2014

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