Besides physical fitness and mental wellness, another rather important aspect of women’s health is reproductive wellbeing. The reproductive system in women comprises the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix in the deep interior and an additional vital organ called the vagina situated at the entrance. And a very common occurrence encountered by women of all age groups in this particular genital part, apart from vaginal dryness that can be resolved with vaginal lubricants, is vaginal discharge.
While some amount of vaginal discharge in particular shades of white or cream on a daily basis is normal, the release of fluids in other colours such as green or gray or with an odd smell is a sign of bacterial/yeast infection or other underlying disorders, that must be reported to a doctor at once for proper diagnosis and medical treatment. It is hence crucial to be aware of what the shade and type of fluid emanating from the vagina signifies with regards to women’s health, to ensure optimal reproductive functions and enhanced overall wellbeing.
What Is Vaginal Discharge?
The vagina begins at the vaginal opening, which is adjacent to the clitoris, labia, urethra. Also termed as the vaginal vestibule or introitus, the vaginal opening lies in between the urethra and anus and expands internally into the vagina.
The vagina is a narrow supple tube, usually 2.75 – 3.25 inches long, with a soft, flexible lining composed of a mucus membrane with elastic fibres. When the woman is sexually aroused or at the stage of childbirth, the very malleable vagina expands to more than 4 inches, which guarantees easier penetration of penis, uplifted sexual functions as well as the healthy and smooth delivery of the baby. Moreover, the elimination of blood during monthly periods in women also takes place via the vagina. The vagina thus serves as the chief passageway connecting the uterus to the external surroundings and outside world.
In addition to the pivotal roles in menstrual cycles, sexual intercourse and pregnancy, childbirth, the vagina also performs a basic yet highly essential function of producing and releasing fluids regularly. This secretion by glands within the vagina and cervix, termed as vaginal discharge, is a central housekeeping function in the female reproductive system, for it removes dead cells, bacteria, supplies lubrication to keep the surface moisturised and helps maintain female hygiene with a clean, infection-free environment in the vaginal tract. Furthermore, the health status of the vagina and the reproductive system in women can be ascertained by the various types of vaginal discharge, thereby serving as a useful tool for self-analysis of overall wellbeing in women.
Health Problems Linked With The Different Colours Of Vaginal Discharge:
Deep Red To Brown:
Vaginal discharge that arises in various shades of red occurs on a monthly basis during menstruation in women and this is a sign of normal health.
However, if this happens when the woman is not on her period cycle or in women who have already attained menopause, it signifies cervical infection, cervical polyp growths or endometrial/cervical cancer.
Clear To Slightly Whitish:
In the majority of cases, clear to a mild white fluid secretion on a regular basis indicates healthy discharge and optimal vaginal health.
This type of clear, translucent discharge coincides with pregnancy and ovulation phases in women, wherein the vagina secretes fluids to maintain pH and hormonal balance and perform its fundamental role as a self-cleaning organ.
Cream To Milky White:
In some women, a creamy white discharge arises on normal occasions owing to thicker secretions by the vagina.
Although, when a foul smell accompanies this discharge, it could be a sign of vaginal yeast infection.
Pale Yellow To Green:
This type of yellow to greenish vaginal discharge happens alongside an unpleasant odour and is not normal, taking place only when there is a microbial infection due to bacterial or yeast pathogens.
Women who encounter yellow or green release from the vagina which is slightly viscous have been affected by a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as trichomoniasis, gonorrhea or chlamydia.
Light To Dark Pink:
In normal cases, a subtle to deep pink discharge occurs from the vagina at the start of the menstrual cycle in women.
But when a pinkish release generates from the vagina when menstruation has not yet begun or during menopause, it denotes cervical bleeding owing to injury or implantation devices, or irritation in the vagina due to sexual penetration by means of the penis, fingers or sex toys.
Subtly Dark To Cloudy Gray:
Grayish vaginal discharge accompanied by a cloudy texture is not normal and indicates that infection and inflammation are present in the vagina.
This is usually due to bacterial vaginosis (BV), that is caused an overgrowth of bacteria in the vaginal tract. Treatment for BV comprises prescription antibiotics given by the doctor taken orally or ointments for topical application. These effectively mend the infection and restore optimal vaginal functions and reproductive health in women.