What are the Causes of Smelly Discharge and How To Deal With It?

Are you facing the issue of smelly vaginal discharge? Vaginal discharge is often a normal occurrence. In fact, vaginal discharge performs an important cleansing function in the female reproductive system. The glands inside the vagina and cervix produce a fluid that helps to carry away bacteria and dead cells. This way, it helps to keep the vagina clean while reducing the chances of infection.

A normal vaginal discharge is usually known as leukorrhea. This normal discharge can vary during your menstrual cycle. Before ovulation, your body usually produces up to 30 times more mucous than it does after the ovulation period. During this phase, the mucous is also very watery and elastic. You may have to use panty liners to prevent ruining your panties. It is important to choose the best quality product as it’s a matter of your intimate hygiene. There are numerous types of panty liners and sanitary pads brands in India that offer superior quality products to meet the hygiene needs of women. You must choose the one that suits you the best in terms of hygiene, comfort, and flexibility.

Types of vaginal discharge

There are different types of vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge is usually categorized based on its color and consistency. As mentioned above, some types of vaginal discharge are absolutely normal. Some types of discharge may indicate an underlying condition that needs immediate treatment. Let’s have a look at different types of vaginal discharge:

  • White discharge: A bit of thick, white discharge is common at the beginning and end of your menstrual cycle. However, if the white discharge is accompanied by itching and has a thick consistency or appearance, it can be a sign of a yeast infection that requires treatment.
  • Clear and watery discharge: A clear and watery discharge is produced at different times of your cycle. It is normal to have a clear and watery discharge. After doing exercise, you may notice quite a heavy discharge.
  • Clear and stretchy discharge: A clear and stretchy discharge is usually the ‘fertile’ mucous which means that you are in your ovulation phase.
  • Yellow or green discharge: A yellow or green discharge that is thick, lumpy, and accompanied by an unpleasant smell is usually the sign of the infection trichomoniasis. This type of infection is generally spread via sexual intercourse.
  • Brown or bloody discharge: If a brown or bloody discharge occurs during or right after your menstrual cycle, it is absolutely normal. The discharge at the end of your period usually looks brown. It generally happens as a cleaning out process of your vagina. You may also experience a bit of bloody discharge between periods which is known as spotting.

The reason behind smelly discharge

A normal vaginal discharge usually consists of about a teaspoon (4 ml) a day. This discharge can be white or transparent. Besides, it can be thick to thin and odorless. At different times of the month based on your menstrual flow, ovulation, birth control, and sexual activity, you may find this vaginal discharge more noticeable. So, it is clear that an odorless, white and transparent discharge is normal. However, if you get an abnormal discharge that is yellow or green in color, lumpy inconsistency, or has a foul smell, it can be the indication of an infection.

Now the question is what causes abnormal discharge? If the color, smell, or consistency of your vaginal discharge is quite different than usual accompanied by vaginal itching or burning, the chances are you are dealing with an infection or other underlying condition. Any changes in the balance of normal bacteria in the vagina can affect the discharge texture, color, and smell. Various things that can affect the balance of normal bacteria include:

  • Yeast infections
  • Pelvic infection after surgery
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Diabetes
  • Bacterial vaginosis, a bacterial infection commonly found in pregnant women
  • Excessive use of birth control pills
  • Cervical cancer
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STDs) like chlamydia or gonorrhea
  • Use of antibiotics or steroids
  • Use of douches, scented soaps, or lotions
  • Trichomoniasis, a parasitic infection usually happens because of unprotected sex
  • Vaginal atrophy, usually the thinning and drying out of the vaginal walls during menopause
  • Vaginitis, the irritation caused in or around the vagina

Tips to prevent vaginal infections

Here are some of the key tips that you must consider to avoid vaginal infections:

  • Keep your vagina clean by washing it daily using lukewarm water. Avoid using soap directly in the vagina as it may cause irritation and inflammation.
  • Avoid using scented soaps or sprays on the vaginal area.
  • After using the washroom, always wipe that area from front to back to prevent bacteria from getting into the vagina and leading to an infection.
  • Wear underwear made from cotton material that is comfortable and breathable.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes.

If your unusual discharge is accompanied by certain symptoms like fever, abdomen pain, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and increased urination, make an immediate appointment to see your doctor.