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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Vaginal Discharge
      Category : Health Centers > Reproductive System

Vaginal Discharge

Alternate Names : Discharge from the Vagina

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Vaginal discharge is a fluid coming from the vagina.

What is going on in the body?

The vagina normally discharges a small mount of fluid that is clear, cloudy, or whitish. There is usually more discharge during exercise or sexual foreplay. A healthy vagina keeps a balance of many bacterial and fungal organisms.

Many factors can affect the delicate balance of organisms within the vagina. These include:

  • antibiotics
  • changes in estrogen levels that occur during menopause, breastfeeding, and pregnancy
  • douching
  • sexual intercourse
  • sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Vaginitis, a swelling and redness in the vagina, may be caused by mental stress, poor hygiene, and irritants such as:

  • spermicides in foams, jellies, and creams
  • condoms and diaphragms
  • feminine hygiene products, such as perfumed sprays and powders
  • nonabsorbent clothing, such as nylon pantyhose
  • tampons
  • One third of all women have symptoms of abnormal vaginal discharge at some point during their lives.

    What are the causes and risks of the condition?

    The causes of vaginal discharge include:

  • yeast infection, caused by the Candida fungus
  • bacterial vaginosis, caused by a change in the normal bacteria in the vagina
  • trichomonas vaginitis, caused by a parasite that is spread through sex
  • atrophic vaginitis, an irritation of the vagina that causes dryness or burning
  • Other possible causes of vaginitis include:

  • a foreign body in the vagina, such as a forgotten tampon or intrauterine device (IUD)
  • gonorrhea
  • genital herpes
  • chlamydia
  • cervicitis
  • pinworms
  • human papillomavirus (HPV)


    Next section


    Vaginal Discharge: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eva Martin, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/09/01

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