The vagina is an organ built for self-cleaning. But not many of us just let it be. From shaving them bald, to using a variety of fragrant products, society has convinced women to believe that vaginas are dirty and require some intense cleaning routine.
The one aspect that actually needs your attention is vaginal discharge.
It's absolutely okay to wonder whether vaginal discharge is normal or not. It can be of colors, and they all determine the kind of attention your vagina needs.
So let's just help you get past the doubts and myths by explaining it all with the required information.
Hygiene & Vaginal Discharge
Having vaginal discharge is completely normal. It is usually occurs during different times of the month depending on multiple reasons like ovulation, menstruation, sexual intercourse, and if you are on birth control pills.
"There are different types of hygiene habits – hygiene in terms of food habits, and perineal hygiene. These two determine the type of vaginal infection on which the type of discharge depends."Dr Vinieta Diwakar, Consultant Obs & Gynaecologist, Manipal Hospitals, Ghaziabad.
The food and water we consume is an external factor that we can assess before taking it in. High sugar diets or processed food can weaken the good bacteria leading to bacterial infections. Therefore a healthy balanced diet is very important.
Dr Meshwa suggests including foods rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.
Speaking of perineal hygiene, it is very easy for germs to collect in that area, therefore keeping it clean and dry is necessary to avoid infections of all kinds.
According to Dr Meshwa Patel, you are at a risk of fungal and bacterial infections if:
You repeatedly take systemic antibiotics
You have diabetes
You have unprotected sex
You have multiple sexual partners
What Can Poor Vaginal Hygiene Do?
The vagina has a specific balance of good and bad bacteria that live in It. If the hygiene levels aren't enough, it can cause some serious troubles like Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), urinary sepsis, intense itching, or burning that will go on its own time.
Talking about long-term problems, it can also cause something as severe as an acute pelvic inflammatory disease which leads to chronic inflammatory disease.
The entire treatment can take a toll on the uterus and can cause infertility.
When Should You See a Doctor?
According to Dr Diwakar, based on the occurrence of vaginal discharge in terms of the menstrual calendar, you will not have discharge everyday, only during the mid-cycle you’ll have discharge.
However, there can be the presence of likoria, the usual white discharge is considered normal and healthy. But you should see a doctor if you notice any of the following:
Green, yellow, thick or cheesy vaginal discharge
Bleeding or spotting unrelated to your period
Strong vaginal odor with or without discharge
Redness, itching, burning or irritation
Types of Vaginal Discharges
The most common etiology of vaginal discharge – bacterial, fungal, and parasitic. Dr Patel says that all three have different treatments one should not take over-the-counter drugs as you need specific treatment depending on the cause.
Consult a gynaecologist before self-medicating.
What You Should You Do & Avoid Doing?
Dr Diwakar says, "to maintain an optimal vaginal hygiene, the external and internal environment of the vagina, both equally matter."
A few things to be kept in mind are:
The fabric of the underwear worn should ideally be cotton to allow the vagina to breathe, changing it twice a day. It should also be dry.
The vagina should be patted dry with a soft tissue after urinating or taking shower.
Changing sanitary pads and tampons from time to time and sterilisation of menstrual cups after use is mandatory.
It’s important to discuss about any vaginal wash you choose with your gynaecologist to see whether the ph level of the product is ideal or not. Do not use it randomly.