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In the female reproductive system, vaginal discharge performs an important cleaning role. Dead cells and bacteria are carried away by fluid produced by glands inside the vagina and cervix. This helps to keep the vagina clean and prevents infection. 

Vaginal discharge is quite typical most of the time. However, if their color, smell, or consistency appear unusual, especially if you also feel vaginal irritation or burning, it is better to visit a gynecologist. Here is a list of nine causes of abnormal vaginal discharge that you shouldn’t ignore.

1. Allergy

Allergic reactions in or around the vagina are conceivable, just as they are in other body regions. Cleansers, douches, sex toys, clothes, and even toilet paper are common culprits. You may have itching, redness, and discomfort during intercourse or urination, in addition to abnormal discharge.

2. Cervicitis

Cervicitis is a cervix inflammation. The cervix is the bottom part of the uterus that attaches to the vagina. Cervicitis produces symptoms such as bleeding between periods, discomfort during sex, painful urination, and abnormal discharge discharges. Cervicitis can be triggered by sexually transmitted diseases, allergies, or bacterial overgrowth.

3. Yeast infection

Yeast infection develops when Candida, a fungus that typically exists in small amounts in your vagina, begins to grow excessively. Overgrowth of the Candida fungus produces thick white discharge, intense vaginal itching, and pain during sex. Yeast infection is usually caused by antibiotics, although it can also be caused by a high sugar intake, a compromised immune system, or diabetes.

4. Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is a common bacterial infection. It causes excessive vaginal discharge that has a strong, unpleasant, and sometimes fishy odor. Discharge may appear gray, thin, and watery. In rare cases, the infection develops asymptomatically. Untreated bacterial vaginosis increases the likelihood of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

5. STIs

Infections and viruses that can be spread during unprotected intercourse are known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They can trigger a variety of symptoms or don’t cause any obvious symptoms. Abnormal vaginal discharge that is accompanied by an unpleasant smell can manifest chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. Other signs of STI include pain during sex, blisters or pimples on the genitals, vaginal swelling, itching, and bleeding, as well as pain during urination.

6. Hormonal imbalance

Increased vaginal discharge may be caused by hormonal imbalances caused by stress or other health issues such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS affects 10% of women of reproductive age. While some women have less vaginal discharge, others have more. Other symptoms include excessive face and body hair, excess weight, irregular menstruation, and fertility problems.

7. Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) arises when the pelvic organs become infected due to untreated bacterial vaginosis or STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea. This condition can manifest through fever, pelvic discomfort, pain during sex, bleeding between periods, menstrual cramping, and abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor. Untreated PID can cause serious outcomes such as infertility or miscarriage.

8. Vaginal atrophy

Vaginal atrophy, which is caused by the body’s decreased levels of the hormone estrogen, is the thinned, dried, and inflamed vaginal walls. As a result, vaginal atrophy is common following menopause, when estrogen levels gradually drop. The symptoms include vaginal dryness, pain during sex, abnormal vaginal secretions, itching, burning, and urine leakage. 

9. Cancers of the female reproductive system

Gynecological cancer includes all malignancies of the female reproductive organs. With the exception of vulvar cancer, practically all gynecological cancers cause irregular vaginal discharge and bleeding between periods. Women with gynecological cancer may have bloating, pelvic pain and an increased urge to urinate.

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