The vagina is a part of the female reproductive tract that serves several functions such as expelling menstrual blood, sexual intercourse, expelling a baby and placenta during delivery etc. Discharge refers to any fluid substance coming out of the vagina which could be normal or abnormal.
NORMAL VAGINAL DISCHARGE
This discharge is one which is wet, sticky, transparent, slippery, not foul-smelling, not itchy and can be stretched between 2 fingers, resembling raw egg white. This type of discharge is peculiar to the pre-ovulation and ovulation period.
Every other time, the discharge should be dry and sticky, not foul-smelling. Almost like a paste.
ABNORMAL VAGINAL DISCHARGE
This occurs when the normal vaginal discharge at different stages of the cycle becomes coloured, foul-smelling, itchy, bloodstained and/or copious.
These different characteristics vary with different infections. For instance,
*Candidiasis:- Here, the vaginal discharge is whitish, thick, cheese-like, not foul-smelling but with intense itching of the vagina and vulva.
It is a fungal infection.
*Bacterial vaginosis:- The vaginal discharge here is yellowish, thin with a strong fishy odour.
* Bloody vaginal discharge may occur at the onset of pregnancy (implantation spotting), during pregnancy(due to some abnormalities especially of the placenta), following a miscarriage(which could be missed, threatened, incomplete) or due to hormonal imbalance as in overweight individuals. These, of course don not include menstruation which is a normal occurrence.
Other genital tract infections have specific discharges which differentiate them from others.
Most abnormal vaginal discharges are accompanied with other symptoms such as lower abdominal pain, pain on urination, etc.
An abnormal vaginal discharge is a warning sign. One should find her way to a good health facility once it is noticed in order to get properly treated and avoid dire outcomes or complications in the future.