Is Vaginal Discharge Normal

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Vanessa

Many women often mistakenly think they have a yeast infection and treat themselves when, in fact, they have a similar vaginal infection that will not respond to self-treatment with over-the-counter yeast medications. A recent study by the American Social Health Association found that 70% of women self-treated vaginal infections before calling a health care provider.

Many women often mistakenly think they have a yeast infection and treat themselves when, in fact, they have a similar vaginal infection that will not respond to self-treatment with over-the-counter yeast medications. A recent study by the American Social Health Association found that 70% of women self-treated vaginal infections before calling a health care provider. Most often, they incorrectly thought they had a yeast infection  but actually had bacterial vaginosis.

The important thing is not to guess, but to recognize and differentiate the symptoms if you develop a vaginal infection. See your health care provider for precise testing and the most appropriate and effective treatment right away.

Most of the time, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. The amount can vary, as can odor and hue (its color can range from clear to a milky white-ish), depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. For example, there will be more discharge if you are ovulating, breastfeeding, or are sexually aroused. The smell may be different if you are pregnant or you haven’t been diligent about your personal hygiene.

None of those changes is cause for alarm. However, if the color, smell, or consistency seems significantly unusual, especially if it accompanied by vaginal itching or burning, you could be noticing an infection or other condition.

Many sufferers have devised creative home remedies for calming this vaginal fury. Some freeze yogurt into ice cube–size popsicles and insert them into their vaginas. Others swallow capsules of probiotics or douche with tea tree oil. Perhaps most unusual is an alternative therapy that uses a common culinary ingredient—garlic.

When using a nonprescription vaginal medicine for a vaginal yeast infection follow the directions on the package insert, as well as these guidelines:

  • Use pads instead of tampons while you are using nonprescription vaginal medicines. Tampons can absorb the medicine.
  • Avoid using soap when cleaning the vaginal area-rinse with water only.
  • If sexual intercourse is painful, avoid it. Otherwise, use a water-soluble lubricating jelly (such as K-Y Jelly) to reduce irritation. The oil in antifungal creams or suppositories can weaken latex. This means condoms and diaphragms may break, and you may not be protected from STI or pregnancy.
  • If the genital area is swollen or painful, sitting in warm water may help. Or instead, you may try putting a cool, damp cloth on the area. Do not rub to try to relieve itching.

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