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What Does It Mean When Women Have Discharge?

Published: September 30, 2009
Dear TeenHealthFX,
What does it mean when women have discharge?
Signed: What Does It Mean When Women Have Discharge?

Dear What Does It Mean When Women Have Discharge?,

 

When people refer to a woman’s “discharge,” they are referring to a substance that is expelled from the vagina. Women may notice that at times their underwear is slightly moist or has a substance on it that is clear or milky in color – this is the discharge. Glands inside the vagina and cervix make small amounts of fluid that flow out of the vagina daily. This fluid carries out old cells that have lined the vagina in order to the keep the vagina healthy and clean.

Some facts about vaginal discharge:

·         Having vaginal discharge is normal and natural.

·         Vaginal discharge is usually clear or milky and does not smell bad.

·         The amount of discharge can vary from woman to woman.

·         The quantity of vaginal discharge is usually less before menarche and after menopause then it is during the reproductive years.

·         The color and thickness of vaginal discharge can change with the monthly menstrual cycle. For example, vaginal discharge is often thicker during ovulation.

·         Changes in the appearance and consistency of vaginal discharge can also be caused by emotional stress, taking OTC medications (including the pill), pregnancy, sexual arousal, and diet.

There are changes that can occur with vaginal discharge that may indicate that there is some inflammatory condition with the vagina or cervix that requires treatment, such as vaginitis. These changes can include:

·         Increase in the amount of discharge

·         Change in color of the discharge

·         A foul smell to the discharge

·         A discharge stained with blood when you do not have your period

·         Irritation, itchiness and/or burning in or around the vagina

If you are experiencing any of the above changes with your discharge it is recommended that you contact your doctor. If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment. You can also contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood, or call your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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