Your Vagina: What’s Normal and What’s Not in Vaginal Problems
There’s nothing wrong with normal vaginal discharge.
This regular discharge helps protect you from infection and irritation. It also helps ensure that your vaginal tissues are healthy.
But what do you do when there’s a change in your normal discharge? How do you know if you have a problem “down there?” And when should you schedule an appointment for vaginal problems?
We’ll take a look at your vagina, including what’s normal and what’s not, along with when you should contact us for an appointment.
How Do You Check for Vaginal Problems?
The most important aspect of checking for vaginal problems is understanding what is normal for you. While discharge is often a sign of a vaginal problem, you should realize that everyone has different levels and frequency of regular, natural vaginal discharge. The key element to checking for vaginal problems is understanding what is normal for you and taking notice of any changes.
This often includes discharge that is a different color, that has a fishy odor, or is thicker than usual. You may also have some bleeding or spotting in between periods.
What Are The Different Types of Vaginal Problems and Diseases?
There are several different categories of vaginal problems that cause diseases. We’ll look at three of the most common types of vaginal diseases and infections.
This is the most common vaginal infection, and it occurs when there’s an overgrowth of the bacteria that naturally live in your vagina. Almost 50 percent of those who have bacterial vaginosis have no symptoms.
So how do you check for vaginal problems?
Be on the lookout for signs, because when symptoms do occur, they include:
- Foul-smelling or “fishy” vaginal odor
- Vaginal discharge that is thin, gray, white or green
- Vaginal itching
- Burning during urination
You can increase your risk of developing bacterial vaginosis by douching or using vaginal deodorants. Smoking may also increase your risk of developing it.
Typically, this type of infection clears up on its own, but it may continue to return. Your best course of action is to schedule an appointment with us so we can prescribe antibiotics to treat it.
Infection or Candidiasis
This fungal infection causes itching, irritation and a sore vulva. It causes vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese.
Those who are at higher risk for thrush yeast include:
- Those who use vaginal hygiene products
- Those who use certain soaps or shower gels
- Those who frequently wear tight-fitting clothing
- Those who have diabetes
- Those on certain medications
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
There are a wide range of sexually transmitted diseases that can cause itching, burning and irritation. These diseases can produce complications if they are not treated in a timely manner. We’ll take a look at some of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and how they affect your vagina.
If you show any signs of these diseases, please schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible.
Caused by a specific type of bacteria, this STD may not show any symptoms at first. However, when it does, it can cause an increase in your vaginal discharge and bleeding between your menstrual cycles. You may also have pain or bleeding after sex. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to urinate.
Without treatment, it can lead to conditions such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.
While this disease often causes painful blisters around your genitals, like chlamydia, it doesn’t always present symptoms.
The blisters from herpes are the most obvious symptoms, but it can also be accompanied by a headache and fever.
There is no cure for genital herpes—the virus will remain in your body. However, we can work with you to help control the disease to minimize flare-ups.
The HPV virus causes genital warts, which are spread through sexual intercourse. These small growths may appear around your vulva, or even in your vagina or anus. It can be a painful source of vaginal problems.
We offer treatments to remove the warts, but like genital herpes, once this disease is in your system, the virus remains in your body indefinitely. We can help you by prescribing medications to manage genital warts and minimize outbreaks.
Symptoms of gonorrhea typically appear within 10 days after you’re infected. Signs include:
- Pain around lower abdomen
- Excessive vaginal discharge
- Painful urination
- Bleeding between your periods
Like many other sexually transmitted diseases, gonorrhea can cause more serious health issues if left untreated.
This STD is caused by a parasite. Again, some people with this disease do not show any symptoms. If symptoms occur at all, they include:
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge (that may be frothy)
- Painful urination
Fortunately, trichomoniasis is easily cured with antibiotics, but it can lead to serious complications if not treated early.
If You Have a Question About Vaginal Problems, Contact Us for an Appointment Today
As we mentioned earlier, discharge is the body’s natural way of keeping your vagina healthy. However, whenever there is something out of the ordinary, it’s important to pay attention. If you’re not sure if you have a vaginal problem or STD, we urge you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Some diseases—such as STDs—can lead to serious consequences if left untreated. Some STD infections can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and pregnancy problems.
At Associates in Women’s Health Care, we are an all-female OBGYN practice in Raleigh. With board-certified doctors, we care for your overall health. We were recognized for clinical excellence by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. We’re also certified by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) through the Blue Quality Physician Program (BQPP).
Scheduling an appointment is quick and easy. If you have vaginal irritation or any of the issues discussed in this article, we urge you to contact us today so we can provide a treatment plan and give you the relief you need.