Pelvic infections and vaginal discharge explained by your Northwestern OBGYN health team in Chicago
Though we may not discuss the technicalities of the vagina in social circles, the fact is that this region of the body is incredibly important. The vagina is where a woman’s reproductive organs end and the outside world begins.
As a natural protective measure, the vagina is naturally acidic, a characteristic that is designed to inhibit infection. The acidic vaginal environment is promoted with healthy bacteria as well. Vaginal discharge is, to a large degree, considered normal. Its purpose is to regulate vaginal functions and keep the area clean. If secretions and the acidic environment as a whole become imbalanced, the risk of pelvic infections increases. Our gynecological team at Northwestern in Chicago helps patients identify problems in vaginal discharge so that necessary treatment may be sought when necessary.
What is normal?
As a component of reproductive health, a woman does well to learn the differences between normal, healthy vaginal discharge and that which may indicate infection or other problems. Vaginal secretions in and of themselves are natural. Most natural secretions will look white or yellow when dried on clothing. When moist, normal secretion looks cloudy white. The presence of mucous is also normal.
There are several factors that may lead to changes in vaginal discharge. Commonly, changes can occur as a result of sexual arousal, the stage of menstrual cycle, stress, nutrition, pregnancy, and oral contraceptives, or just a change in the vaginal flora.
The menstrual cycle and vaginal discharge
A woman is continually in some stage of her menstrual cycle until she no longer has her period. It is not only during active menstruation that changes can occur, it is all the way throughout the cycle. For instance, general moistness or discharge may increase mid-cycle. Additionally, the risk of pelvic infection increases just before menstruation, when the pH balance is more varied.
Recognizing abnormal discharge
When changes occur to normal discharge, a woman can become concerned about potential infection or other problems. Vaginal infections are actually quite common and normally no cause for alarm. With treatment, infection can be eliminated. Signs of pelvic infection include:
- Itching, rash, or soreness in the vaginal area
- Significant increase in vaginal discharge
- Skin burns during urination
- Discharge has a foul odor, is discolored or clumpy
Symptoms could be caused by yeast, bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas, sexually transmitted diseases, other bacteria, allergic reactions or masses. We will individualize treatment to fix the problem.
Northwestern Women’s Health Associates provides discreet, compassionate care for the issues that effect your pelvic health. Schedule your visit by calling 312-440-9400.