What is considered abnormal vaginal discharge?

An abnormal vaginal discharge is usually characterized by an unpleasant odor or a significant change in its color or consistency. Also, if the discharge is accompanied by itching or burning discomfort, this may be a sign of a medical problem that should be examined and treated by a healthcare professional. However, women should also keep in mind that regularly experiencing vaginal discharge is quite normal and nothing to worry about. By paying attention to her discharge, a woman can be aware of changes that may indicate that something is wrong.

The color of a woman's vaginal discharge can change throughout her monthly cycle, but it is often clear or milky in color. An abnormal vaginal discharge can be one of several colors. For example, while many women who have irregular periods may experience a reddish-brown discharge, this color of discharge is rarely found in women who may have some type of vaginal bleeding caused by cervical cancer or another pelvic condition. Yellow or greenish discharge may indicate a trichomoniasis or gonorrhea infection. A thick white discharge can indicate a yeast infection.

In many, but not all, cases, an abnormal vaginal discharge may be accompanied by an unusual or unpleasant odor. This is also a common sign of abnormal vaginal discharge and should prompt a woman to seek medical attention. However, the discharge from a yeast infection may not have a significant odor. A fishy odor can be caused by a condition known as bacterial vaginosis, while other conditions can simply be characterized by a particularly unpleasant odor.

Other symptoms may accompany an abnormal vaginal discharge. For example, yeast infections can cause a woman to experience pain during intercourse. Other infections, such as trichomoniasis, can cause pain when urinating. Other symptoms may include general itching or tenderness in a woman's genital region. Redness and swelling can also be signs of a possible infection or gynecological condition.

Many of the conditions that cause abnormal vaginal discharge will not go away on their own. They can also be contagious and spread back and forth between a woman and her partner or sexual partners if both are not treated. For this reason, abnormal vaginal discharge should be taken seriously. Women experiencing this may also consider stopping sexual activity until they receive a medical diagnosis of their condition and, if appropriate, medical treatment.

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