Doctor's Notes on Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge is a fluid produced by glands in the vaginal wall and cervix that exits from the opening of the vagina. A certain amount of vaginal discharge is normal. However, an increased amount of discharge, an abnormal odor or consistency of the fluid, or vaginal discharge accompanied by pain may be signs of a vaginal infection or other condition. Vaginal discharge can be caused by:
- bacterial vaginosis;
- yeast infections;
- sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis; and
- soaps, douches, or spermicides.
Depending on the cause of the vaginal discharge and particularly when an infection is present, there may be other symptoms associated with the condition, such as:
- pain during urination,
- pain with sexual intercourse, and
- burning or itching of the vagina.
What Is the Treatment for Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal infections are treated with antibiotics or antifungal infections as appropriate. Most antibiotics are taken orally, while antifungal medications may be taken orally or applied to the vagina in a cream or gel preparation. Bacterial vaginosis is also treated with antibiotics.
It may also be helpful to stop using soaps, douches, or spermicides that are causing abnormal discharge.
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TrichomoniasisTrichomoniasis is a contagious STD. Trichomoniasis can infect men and women. Symptoms of trichomoniasis in women include vaginal discharge, vaginal itching, and a smelly, itchy, and frothy foam discharge. Symptoms and signs of trichomoniasis in men include urethral discharge, pain with urination, and pain and swelling of the scrotum. Treatment for trichomoniasis is with antibiotics.
Vaginal Infections (Vaginitis)Vaginal infection (vaginitis) can cause symptoms such as vaginal odor, discharge, itching, or irritation due to inflammation of the vagina. Learn about causes, types, home remedies, and treatment.
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.