What is normal vaginal discharge?

Every woman has some sort of vaginal discharge and the amount of discharge is individual for each woman.  The same is for smell. Every person has its own smell. What is a “normal” or “abnormal” is therefore for you yourself to know. You have to take into consideration that the amount of discharge is not constant but influenced by hormones of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, sexual arousal, stress, age.

Discharge of a healthy vagina may appear clear, cloudy white, and/or yellowish when dry on your underwear. Sometimes the amount of discharge, the appearance of the discharge and the smell changes and it’s distressing if you don’t know what is causing it.

Let’s take a better look at the menstrual cycle. The regular pH of your vagina is acidic, which discourages infections from occurring. Just before and during your menstruation is your vagina less acidic. In these days you are more vulnerable to infections. Nature designed us to have intercourse when we ovulate, just like being “in heat”. At that moment the vagina is well prepared for copulation and to receive the influx of semen and seminal fluids.
Because during our evolution we have added sexual pleasure and detached copulation from conception, (unprotected) intercourse can disturb the vaginal environment with the influx of salty semen. This may cause a disbalance of the vaginal flora, resulting in growth of undesirable bacilli that are responsible for an unpleasant, fishy smell.

Malodourous discharge is always a sign of a disbalance in the vaginal flora. Some women are extremely susceptible to it and constantly have to watch over restoring the good vaginal flora. Hygiene is important but please note, correct hygiene is a balance between too much and too little hygiene. Don't wash with soap or washing gels every day, wash with water and a clean washing cloth or with your hands under the shower. The bacteria that give the malodour are quite sensitive to acidity so washing with diluted vinegar is an option.

If you have a flaky, white discharge without malodour, and a lot of itching, you probably have a vaginal yeast infection. Usually a yeast infection starts in the second half of the cycle. To get rid of the yeast, flush the vagina clean with a douche, using just water or a special cleansing douching tablet and apply an acidifier directly thereafter. In severe cases you’ll need an anti-fungal medication.

When your normal amount of discharge is increased and you suffer from itch or pain it can be that you have an irritation or inflammation caused by some physical action such as intercourse or insertion of objects including tampons or by some chemical sources such as aggressive douching fluids, perfumed lotions etc. Know your body and find out which action may have caused your discomfort. This way you are able to avoid it or correct it with the proper measures.