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Abnormal Vaginal Discharge from Yeast Infection

Most of the time it is due to infection. The change in appearance of vaginal discharge depends on the cause of infection.

Vaginal discharge is common in women. How normal vaginal discharge looks like depends on the phases of menstrual cycle. Before ovulation (2 weeks before period starts), the vaginal discharge is usually clear, mucus-like and it becomes cloudy white after ovulation. Normal vaginal discharge is odorless and does not cause itching, irritation or burning in the vagina. And there are no accompanied symptoms such as fever or pelvic pain.

If vaginal discharge looks different from usual, most of the time it is due to infection. The change in appearance of vaginal discharge depends on the cause of infection. Thick, white, lumpy vaginal discharge which looks like milk stain causing itchiness is usually due to yeast infection. Vaginal discharge due to pelvic inflammatory disease is yellowish with foul odor, accompanied by cramp and fever. Greyish-white discharge with fishy odor is caused by bacterial vaginosis. Suitable treatments will be prescribed once the cause is identified. Please always see your OB-GYN (obstetrician-gynecologist) for a pelvic examination and appropriate treatment.

What cause abnormal vaginal discharge and itching?
Abnormal vaginal discharge and itching is the result of yeast infection. The discharge looks white and lumpy like milk stain. A distinctive symptom of yeast infection is extreme vaginal itching. In some cases, there may also be rash with redness caused by skin yeast infection external to the vagina including vulva and groin area.

What is the root cause of yeast infection?
Yeast usually exists at low levels in vagina without causing any symptoms. However, if the local resident bacteria inside your vagina, the normal flora, decrease, yeast overgrowth can occur causing abnormal vaginal discharge.

Factors contributing to abnormal vaginal discharge and itching are moisture which spurs yeast proliferation, antibiotics which may kill off normal bacterial flora leading to yeast overgrowth, and vaginal environment of diabetes which stimulates unfettered growth of yeasts.

What should I do if I have abnormal vaginal discharge and itching?
If you have abnormal vaginal discharge, please make an appointment to see your OB-GYN for a pelvic examination to arise at a proper diagnosis. A special instrument will be inserted into your vagina to inspect the vaginal fluid. Doctor can usually make a diagnosis based on your history of illness and from the appearance of vaginal discharge. If the diagnosis is still uncertain, the vaginal secretion may be sent for additional laboratory test to identify the causative infectious microorganism.

What are treatments for vaginal yeast infection?
If your abnormal discharge is caused by yeast infection, antifungal medications in the form of medicated suppositories or oral pills will be prescribed. It is recommended to complete the course of the medications; the symptoms usually improve within a couple of days. If there are itchy rashes with redness in the area external to the vagina, topical antifungal creams or ointments will be prescribed to treat the rashes.

In addition to medications, it is recommended to scrutinize your own behaviors and lifestyle that may raise the risks of yeast infection, such as checking blood sugar for undiagnosed diabetes, ascertaining for inappropriate use of antibiotics, and improper cleaning of genitalia. Once the cause of yeast infection is pinpointed, modify your habit and behavior, and maintain vaginal hygiene to prevent recurrence.

You can adjust your lifestyle by wearing light and airy underpants, dry your private part after cleaning, and avoid unnecessary antibiotics use.

What should I do if vaginal yeast infection recurs?
If you frequently suffer from yeast infections 4 or more time a year, prophylactic antifungal medication may be prescribed for 6 months of continual use to prevent recurrence. However, lifestyle modification such as wearing light and airy undergarments, keeping your undergarment dry after cleaning the private part and avoiding antibiotics overuse is essential and should be carried out while you are taking prescribed antifungal medications.

Article by
Dr Pimpagar Chavanaves
Gynecologist Specializing in Reproductive Endocrinology
Doctor profile