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VAGINAL DISCHARGES

What Causes Vaginal Discharges?

How Do You Prevent Vaginal discharges?

Vaginal Discharges Explained

Vaginal discharges will be discussed in a plain and simple way . The information provided is only intended to be informative and should not be used to diagnose or treat vaginal problems.

Vaginal discharges are effecting and annoying many women. The vagina is normally wet and continuously secreting a small amount of fluid. The amount is effected by sexual arousal and the time of the cycle. The amount and appearance also changes during the menstrual cycle. It is usually more and less sticky during the time of ovulation. ( about 2 weeks after a menstruation). The amount also differs from women to women, thus making it difficult define what is excessive. We think it should be individualized If you think it is to heavy than it is to heavy and should be investigated.

When is a vaginal discharge abnormal?

Is is abnormal when it:

(i) Irritates ( burning or itching)

(ii) Has an unpleasant odor ( smells)

(iii) Is effecting your partner ( causing itching , burning or rashes)

(iv) Is accompanied by vaginal pain or pain during intercourse

(v)Is staining your underclothes .

(vi) You regard it as to heavy.

What Causes Vaginal Discharges ?

Most vaginal discharges are causes by germs that attack the vaginal lining. Many micro organisms ( very small life forms or germs) are normally living in the vagina without causing any harm. Some of these natural occurring germs produces lactic acid. The lactic acid lowers the pH inside the vagina ( makes it more acid). The acidity caused by lactic acid inhibit the growth of more harmful bacteria and thus protects the vagina. In spite of this protection harmful bacteria occasionally invade the vagina and cause diseases. Different germs will cause different types of discharges. Your medical practitioner will take samples of the discharge and have them analyzed. This will help to identify the germ that causes the discharge and infection. Effective treatment is available in the majority of case. Unfortunately troublesome resistant cases do occur.

There are defense mechanisms that protect the vagina against invasion by microorganisms. The vagina is hot and damp. The ideal breeding place for germs. Without defense mechanisms vaginal diseases would be very common.

In repeating and in resistant cases the vagina's defense systems could be compromise.

The defense mechanisms consists of

(i) Continuous discharge ( mainly from the cervix (mouth) of the womb. The discharge helps removing abnormal substances from the vagina

(ii) The normal vaginal flora. There are numerous bacteria living in hot , wet conditions in the vagina. Some of them produces lactic acid . This make the vagina slightly acid and unfavorable for many harmful germs. The different bacteria also compete with each other for food and energy. Due to the competitors there numbers are checked.

(iii) Estrogen causes the vaginal lining to be tick and less likely to be invaded. In children and post menopausal women this protection is absent.

The vagina's defense systems is compromised under the following conditions:

(i) During and after treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics also kills so called " good" germs. It causes an overgrowth of certain germs resistant to the antibiotic( there competition is removed). There lactic acid producing germs are removed and the vagina is less acidic. There is also a disturbance in the bacterial make up of the germs present in the bowels and the stool. An example is a overgrowth of Candida albicans the germ causing thrush.

(ii) Low levels of estrogen (children and menopausal women)cause the vaginal lining to become thin and more easily infected. The acid producing bacteria are also dependent on estrogen.

The next table contains links to short descriptions of the different types of vaginal discharges. This is just to illustrate that there many different kinds of vaginal discharges and that proper investigation is necessary to solve the problem.

CANDIDIASIS OR TRUSH
VAGINOSIS
TRICHOMONAS
OTHER BACTERIAL INFECTIONS
DISCHARGES CAUSED BY FOREIGN BODIES
NON INFECTIVE EXCESSIVE DISCHARGE OR LEUCORRHOEA

Antibiotics do not discriminate between different bacteria. If a bacterium is sensitive to a certain antibiotic , it will be destroyed by the antibiotic. Thus is a disadvantage of antibiotic treatment. Useful germs are also effected and can influence the vagina's defense mechanisms. If the lactic acid producing germs are killed , the resistance to bacterial infections is decreased. It is important to tell your doctor if you frequently get vaginal infections. When you do need antibiotics , steps can be taken to protect the vagina. WE ARE NOT AGAINST THE USE OF ANTIBIOTICS. THEY ARE LIFE SAVING DRUGS !


LAST UPDATE : 18 JULY 2002


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