Most women, whether sexually active or not, have vaginal discharge at some time in their life, and before they go to a doctor, they google. In 2018, the second most searched topic on Women’s health in Google was Yellow discharge from vagina.
So here we have a look at the various causes of yellow discharge/white discharge or leucorrhea.
- Physiological discharge or leucorrhea: the discharge may not be yellow, just staining the undergarments yellow or brown, when it is normal physiological discharge. It’s character changes according to the time of menstrual cycle and it could be from watery to very thick.This is NOT associated with any itching, burning or pain.
- Bacterial Vaginosis: Here the discharge is just because the natural bacteria of the vagina have been destroyed and the vagina is not having its normal acidic pH leading to colonization by other bacteria. Treatment would be towards correcting the pH and bacterial flora.
- Fungal Infection: Usually the discharge of fungal infection is like curd, sticking to surfaces of vagina, causing bleeding if forcibly removed and associated with severe itching, which might not be severe in case of Diabetics. It turns yellowish in case of mixed infection with bacteria or Trichomonas.
- Bacterial Infection: This is usually not an isolated vaginal infection and is associated with pain in lower abdomen, fever, yellow discharge which may even be greenish, and may be due to a multitude of organisms and may even require hospitalization with intravenous antibiotics.
- Viral Infection: Most notably Genital Herpes. This starts with pain, fever, rashes in vulva, which on scratching become ulcers which coalesce with each other with yellow discharge. These ulcers are exceedingly painful, not even permitting the lady to sit or sleep. An early diagnosis with adequate treatment promotes better quality of life, and also scar-less healing.
- Trichomonas Infection: This is caused by a parasite and causes foul smelling, yellow discharge with severe itching. It is sexually transmitted and both partners need to be treated adequately for the infection to be cured. It can be diagnosed with a simple speculum examination of the vagina.
- Hormonal disturbances: When the menstrual cycle controlling hormones are not working as they should, sometimes a very small amount of bleeding continues after menstrual bleeding has stopped or is yet to start. This then appears like yellow discharge, and would require an entirely different approach to diagnosis and treatment.
- Cancer or Precancer Cancer of the Uterine Cervix,and also of the Endometrium may cause intermittent irregular bleeding, bleeding after sexual activity, and when bleeding has not started, yellow discharge. Infection and precancerous changes in the Cervix may also present as yellow discharge.
- Profuse watery discharge unrelated to menstrual cycle through rare, this could be an indicator of cancer of the fallopian tube. So if no other cause can be found, the tubes should be very carefully evaluated with ultrasound and if need be with MRI.
As you can see, there is a whole spectrum of things it could be, so do not hesitate to visit your Gynecologist, and you could be assured, treated or cured as the case may be.
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