Vaginal discharge is normal for women of early to late child-bearing years. This phenomenon starts from pre-adolescence to pre menopause. That’s why women are advised to keep panty liners handy and maintain good feminine hygiene day in and day out to feel fresh and comfortable. None of that sticky or wet feeling on your crotch after you urinated several times and when you’re under a lot of stress. This normal vaginal discharge is scientifically termed as leucorrhea.
The appearance of the discharge varies depending on the stages of the menstrual cycle. A woman who is on her fertile, ‘unsafe’ days may notice that her vaginal discharge look clear, filmy, and stretches when held between the thumb and forefinger. During fertile days, the discharge is rich in glucose in order to nourish the zygote after fertilization is achieved. If a woman is on her safe days, the discharge looks cloudy and does not stretch when held between two fingers. It is devoid of nutrients since it’s made of discarded white blood cells.
For women who are conceiving, it is normal to observe the same discharge phenomenon, but it slightly differs from that of a woman who is not pregnant. Early pregnancy discharge is also termed leucorrhea, and it doesn’t mean that your cervix has not closed off to secure your unborn child. The birth canal has the ability to clean itself of impurities.
In order to do that, it releases an odorless discharge daily, regardless if a woman is pregnant or not. For those who are pregnant, this discharge may double up at some point anytime since your sexual hormones are working overtime to cope with the fast-paced changes that are associated with pregnancy. So basically, early pregnancy discharge is normal. Provided of course that it looks clear to creamy and is odorless or it smells a little bit like spoilt buttermilk. Not all women welcome that slightly pungent smell and uncomfortable feeling that’s brought about by leucorrhea so personal hygiene should be strictly observed.
Now, if you observe a fishy, unpleasant odor and greenish to grayish tinge on your early pregnancy discharge, then it indicates a condition that needs medical attention immediately for you and your baby’s utmost safety. When vaginal discharge is associated with constant itching and a burning sensation all throughout the day, then you may have Bacterial Vaginosis or BV. The type of discharge that’s associated with this condition has a pungent, fishy smell. Almost 16% of pregnant women in the United States alone are reported to suffer from BV during one time or another in their gestation period.
Bacterial Vaginosis is a condition that’s defined as the presence of bacterial overgrowth in your vaginal canal. In other words, your vagina is dealing with a bacterial infection. Bear in mind though that BV is a far cry from another common vaginal bug: yeast infection. Yeast infection on the other hand is primarily caused by Candida albicans. It is a fungal infection that every woman has experienced some time in her life. Yeast infection is medically termed Candidiasis, and its cardinal sign is discharge that smells and looks like age-old cottage cheese.
Bacterial Vaginosis on the other hand is caused by too many anaerobic bacteria that outnumber the normal flora of the vaginal canal. The cause of the infection is still unknown to experts but they have identified a set of signs and symptoms to watch out for when it comes to BV. Here are some of the noticeable signs:
There is vaginal discharge that is of grey or greenish appearance, has a pungent, fishy smell especially after sexual intercourse
Burning or itching feeling during sexual contact or urination
The grey-green secretion is caused by gram-positive bacteria that develop in the vaginal canal. This is similar to the bacteria that causes pneumonia and exhibits yellowish to greenish sputum. The fishy smell comes from iron in the blood, which the vaginal canal is abundant in, the birth canal’s normal flora, and the infection itself. Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis is actually similar to that of Candidiasis.
To diagnose the infection, your doctor will conduct a physical exam on your pelvic area and a smear sample of your vaginal secretion shall be taken to the laboratory for analysis. Your vagina is also tested for pH levels. The human vaginal canal is normally slightly acidic than the normal pH range, roughly 7.5 to 8. This is to protect the rest of the female reproductive system from infections and harmful microorganisms.
An acidic vagina is well-fortified against minor infections, unless of course it starts on your uterine lining or cervix. Women who exhibit a neutral or slightly basic pH for their vaginal canals are more prone to infections, including Candidiasis and Bacterial Vaginosis.
For treatment, you will be given antibiotics which you need to take strictly for the given period of time. Skip a dose and you’ll have to start all over again, plus, you’ll be more resistant to the given antibiotic and the next time you get an infection of a different sort, your doctor will have to give you a more potent dose. A higher dose of certain antibiotics damages the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and other vital organs. So it’s best to take the drug religiously and never skip a dose.
Most antibiotic treatment programs can last from 7-21 days. You will also be advised to maintain proper feminine hygiene. You will have to ditch vaginal douches, diaphragms, and other intravaginal preparations during and a few weeks after your treatment program to ensure safe and full recovery.
Bacterial Vaginosis especially in pregnant women should always be addressed accordingly. If not, the infection can ascend to your cervix and uterus and may put the growing fetus in harm’s way. As for the medications, try not to take over-the-counter drugs especially when you’re with child. Your doctor will devise a treatment care plan that will suit you and your unborn baby best. Bacterial Vaginosis can last from a few days to two weeks if not treated. It can lead to a worse infection if not treated immediately.