Vaginal discharge is absolutely normal among Nigerian women. It’s a fluid or mucus that keeps the vagina clean and moist. It also protects it from infections.
Other than your menstrual flow, it is completely normal to get white or clear secretions from your vagina.
The amount of discharge varies throughout your menstrual cycle.
Changes in the amount of discharge can be 100% hormonal, it could be linked to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause.
As a typical Nigerian woman, you usually get a heavier discharge if you’re pregnant, sexually active or using birth control.
During ovulation, your discharge usually becomes thicker and stretchy like raw egg white. It also becomes slippery and wet.
Vaginal discharge is not always a bad sign. Healthy discharge doesn’t have a strong smell or colour. You may have an uncomfortable feeling of wetness, but you should not have itching or soreness in the vaginal area. Vaginal discharge is completely normal if it:
- Is clear or white
- Doesn’t have a strong or an unpleasant smell
- Is thick and sticky
- Is slippery and wet
If your discharge changes in colour, texture or smell, it might be a sign of an infection. Do not self-diagnose if you notice any change. It’s important to visit a specialist if:
- You feel itchy or sore
- You bleed between periods or after sex
- You experience painful peeing
- You experience pelvic pain
Symptoms of unusual discharges and their possible causes
If your discharge smells fishy, it may be a result of an infection called bacterial vaginosis.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common cause of unusual vaginal discharge. It is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but it can increase your risk of getting one.
You may notice a change in the colour or consistency of your discharge. It becomes greyish-white and thin and watery.
Bacterial vaginosis does not usually cause itching or soreness.
If you’re unsure if it’s bacterial vaginosis, you should go to a sexual health clinic.
Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by a change in the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina.
You’re likely to get Bacterial vaginosis if:
- You changed your partner
- You’re sexually active
- You have a contraceptive device
- You use perfumed products in or around your vagina.
Bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection but can be triggered by sex. It can be passed from one woman to another. You’re more likely to get an STI if you have bacterial vaginosis because it makes your vaginal is less acidic and reduces your natural defences against infection.
As a Nigerian female, if your discharge feels thick and appears white like cottage cheese, it may be as a result of an infection called Thrush.
Thrush is a common yeast infection that affects both men and women in Nigeria and around the globe. It’s not classified as a sexually transmitted infection but can be triggered by sex.
Causes of Thrush
It is caused by a fungus called candida that is normally harmless.
It grows in warm and moist conditions and it develops if the balance of bacteria changes. This can happen if:
- Your immune system is weakened
- You’re taking antibiotics
- You’re pregnant
- You have poorly controlled diabetes
Symptoms of Thrush
- White vaginal discharge
- Itching and irritation in the vaginal area
- Soreness and stinging during sex or when you pee
If your discharge appears green, yellow or frothy, it could be as a result of an infection called trichomoniasis.
Causes of Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) caused by a tiny parasite called Trichomonas Vaginalis (TV).
In women, the parasite mainly infects the vagina and the tube that carries urine out of the body (urethra).
Symptoms of Trichomoniasis
Symptoms usually develop after a month of infection.
Some infected people may not develop any symptom but can still pass the infection to others. The symptoms are alike to many other STIs which sometimes makes it difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms in women include:
- Thick, thin, frothy or yellow-green discharge
- More discharge than normal which may also have an unpleasant fishy smell
- Swelling, itching and soreness in the vagina
- Itching in the inner thighs
- Painful urination
- Painful sex
- Discomfort in sex and urination
If you have discharge with blister or sores, it could be as a result of Genital Herpes.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection passed on through vaginal, oral or anal sex.
Causes of Genital Herpes
It is caused by a virus called herpes simplex.
You can get genital herpes:
- From skin to skin contact with the infected areas
- From sharing sex toys of an infected person
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
- Burning sensation around your genitals
- Tingling or itching around the genitals
- Painful urination
- Unusual discharge
- Small blisters that burst to leave red, open sores around the genitals, anus, thighs or bottom
Symptoms clear up by themselves but can come back as an outbreak or reoccurrence.
Home Remedies For Treating These Infections
For treating thrush:
- Use water and emollients to wash affected areas
- Wear cotton underwears
- Avoid sex until after thrush is completely cleared
- Do not use soaps or shower gel on your vagina
- Do not use douches or deodorants on your vagina
For dealing with genital herpes outbreak:
- Apply an ice pack wrapped in a flannel to soothe the pain
- Apply petroleum jelly like Vaseline to soothe the pain after you pee
- Wash your hands before and after applying cream or jelly
- Pour water on your genitals while you pee to soothe the pain
- Keep the affected area clean by using plain or saltwater
- Do not wear tight clothes or underwears
- Do not put ice directly on the affected area
- Abstain from sex until the blisters are cleared
- Do not touch your blisters unless you are applying cream
Things to do to help with vaginal discharge
- Get a panty liner. You should not use them all the time to avoid irritation or dryness.
- Wash your vagina with clean, plain water. Avoid using scented soap, shower gel and antiseptics as it can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina.
Avoid scented wipes and vaginal deodorants