Vaginal Discharge Specialist
Vaginal discharge can occur for many reasons, including ongoing infections and hormonal changes. Having vaginal discharge diagnosed at Northwest Women’s Center in Houston, TX, is important for determining the underlying cause so it can be treated as quickly as possible and for getting symptoms under control.
Vaginal Discharge Q & A
What causes vaginal discharge?
The vagina naturally produces fluids that help maintain the health of the tissues that line the vaginal canal and help ward off germs and pathogens that can cause infections. Vaginal fluids also act to lubricate the vaginal canal during sex. Sometimes, irritation or hormonal fluctuations can result in an overproduction of these fluids and cause vaginal discharge. Discharge can also become more frequent during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause when hormones can fluctuate significantly. Another common cause of vaginal discharge is infection, including infections that come from sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections like vaginitis that develop when hormonal fluctuations disrupt the normal balance of healthy flora inside the vagina. Long-term use of medications or some medical therapies and acute and chronic illnesses can also cause discharge. Diagnosing the cause of vaginal discharge is important for ensuring the most appropriate care is provided.
How is the cause of vaginal discharge diagnosed?
Sometimes the cause of discharge can be diagnosed with a physical and pelvic exam and a review of symptoms. Other times, a sample of the vaginal fluid may be taken for analysis or other tests like urinalysis or blood tests may be ordered to determine if an infection is present and what kind of pathogen is causing the infection or to rule out specific causes of discharge.
What symptoms are associated vaginal discharge?
Discharge is often accompanied by itching, burning, or pain or tenderness around the vaginal area. The appearance and odor associated with vaginal discharge can also vary depending on the cause. Some types of infections including some STDs can cause lumps or sores to appear.
What treatments are available for vaginal discharge?
That depends on the cause. If discharge is caused by an infection, antibiotics or other medications can be prescribed to fight off the infection and to help restore the pH and flora balance in the vagina. If discharge is a result of hormonal fluctuations like those that occur during menopause, hormone replacement therapy or laser therapy can be used to help restore the vaginal tissues. Other treatment options may also be available, depending on the underlying cause of the vaginal discharge and other factors.