Discharge or mucus secretion is nature’s way of keeping the organs clean. Secretion from the vagina is normal if the women is of reproductive age. Normal secretion is clear, light and odour free. It is not normal if the discharge is yellow or dark in color, has an offensive or fishy odour or causes itching.
What are the most common types of vaginal infection and their symptoms?
1. Yeast infection
One of the most common vaginal infection is yeast infection caused by a fungus referred to as candida. It affects at least 75% of women at least once. All women have some fungus in the vagina, but a change in the environment in the vagina can lead to an overgrowth and hence leading to candida infection.
The symptoms of yeast infection / candida infection are:
- Itchiness, redness or pain around the vagina and vulva
- White, cottage cheese-like thick vaginal discharge
- Soreness or burning sensation at vagina
- Pain during sexual intercourse or urination
Yeast infection may clear up on its own, but if the symptoms persists, you have to see your doctor. Treatment includes oral or topical antifungal medications, or antifungal pessaries.
2. Other types of vaginal infection
Another common infection is bacterial vaginosis. The cause is not known but is probably due to an imbalance in the ‘good’ and ‘harmful’ bacteria. The discharge has a fishy smell, especially after sex. It can be treated with antibiotics.
Trichomoniasis is a parasite that is sexually transmitted and can cause clear, yellowish or greenish vaginal discharge with an unusual smell, itching, burning, redness or soreness in the genital area.
Sometimes, these infections have no symptoms. It can be treated with a short course of antibiotics.
How to prevent yeast infection?
1. Wash with warm water
The vagina has a PH level that needs to be maintained in order to prevent the growth of unhealthy bacteria and facilitate the growth of good bacteria. Using harsh cleaners can upset the balance. The vulva, the skin outside the vagina may be cleansed with no frills gentle soap, as long as it does not irritate the skin
2. Avoid perfumed deodorant sprays, scented tampons and vaginal douche
These may affect the delicate balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina, leading the yeast infections
3. Change tampons and sanitary napkins frequently
4. Keep yourself dry and clean
Wipe yourself dry after bathing. Change out of your sweaty or wet clothes as soon as you can as yeast loves to grow in damp places
5. Wear cotton underwear
Cotton absorbs moisture and sweat better hence reduce yeast infections as candida grows best in damp environment
6. Avoid tight fitting jeans
Stay cool and dry by wearing loose fitting pants and jeans
7. Practice a good personal hygiene
After visiting the bathroom, wipe from front to the back to prevent bacteria from the anus travelling to the vagina
8. Take yoghurt
If you have been on antibiotics, replenish the good bacteria by taking yoghurt with lactobacillus acidophilus
9. Reduce stress
Chronic stress levels lowers your body’s immune system and makes you prone to vaginal yeast infection