Vaginal Discharge without Itching
Written by : Dr.M.D.Mazumdar, MD
All women have vaginal discharge at some time or the other in their lives. This vaginal discharge may be normal or abnormal. Normal vaginal discharge occurs due to a normal physiological process in the body.
Vaginal discharge is termed abnormal or pathological when the discharge is due to some disease process.
Most cases of normal vaginal discharge does not cause itching. But while most causes of abnormal vaginal discharge causes itching, there are some diseases which may cause vaginal discharge but no itching.
Most women are unaware of the causes of normal vaginal discharge and may get unduly distressed. Some may even present themselves at the doctor's clininc for treatment.
Vaginal Discharge without Itching
Vaginal discharge without itching may be:
- Normal or Physiological.
- Abnormal or Pathological- due to some disease process.
Normal Vaginal Discharge without Itching
The vagina is the passage that connects the internal reproductive organs with the external female anatomy or the Vulva. The glands of the vagina and cervix secrete small amounts of fluid and mucus throughout a woman's life. Some of this fluid may leak out and cause a normal vaginal discharge.
This discharge helps to cleanse out the vagina of any pathogenic organism and keeps the vagina moist and well lubricated. The secretions also help to maintain the ph of the vagina and protect it against infections.
The ph of the vagina is normally acidic, preventing disease-producing organism from growing. This ph is mainly maintained by a variety of organisms that grow normally in the vagina. Of these, one of the commonest organism is Doderlein's bacilli, a type of lactobacilli.
The normal vaginal discharge contains tissue fluids, old vaginal and cervical cells, WBC's, glycogen, electrolytes, proteins and lactic acid.
Normal Vaginal Organisms
as seen on a slide under
Normal vaginal discharge that occurs at various times in a woman's life is thin and clear or faintly cloudy. It turns yellowish when dry. It may sometimes be seen as a stringy discharge sticking to the underwear. It does not smell when wet but may have a faint musty smell when dry. It does not cause itching or burning of the vagina.
Usually the amount of vaginal discharge is such as to just moisten the vaginal opening and to occasionally leave a stain on the undergarments. But it can be increased at certain times:
- During ovulation: The term "Ovulation" is used to describe the release of an ovum from a woman's ovaries once in every menstrual cycle. Fertilization of an ovum by a sperm causes a pregnancy to occur.
At around the time of ovulation, the level of estrogen in the body increases, stimulating the glands of the cervix. These secrete large amounts of clear, watery fluid. The main function of this cervical discharge is to help any sperm deposited in the vagina to swim up through the uterus. This secretion is usually copius, thin and watery, clear with occasional specks of white. and quite stretchable.
Since, ovulation occurs about 14 days after the last menstrual period, the secretions also increase at around this time.
- Just before the menses / periods : Sometimes it is noticed that the vaginal discharge increases a day or two before the period begins. The discharge becomes gradually brownish or reddish as the bleeding starts. The day the vaginal discharge becomes brownish is counted as the first day of the period.
- During pregnancy : During pregnancy, the level of oestrogen and progesterone increases in the body. These hormones are needed to maintain the pregnancy and help the baby to grow. They also stimulate the glands of the cervix to secrete large amounts of fluid, especially in the early part of pregnancy. These fluids then appear as copious vaginal discharge during pregnancy that is thick and whitish. The discharge is sticky without any smell.
- During sexual excitement: Sexual Excitement causes the secretion of a thin watery fluid that wets and lubricates the vagina to make penetration of the penis and the sexual act easier.
- At birth : Many newborn female babies have a mucoid vaginal discharge lasting for the first few days of birth. This is in response to the stimulation of their genital organs by maternal estrogen while they were still in the uterus. The estrogen level gradually decreases and then disappears. The vaginal discharge also disappears at the same time.
- At Puberty: Excessive vaginal discharge may be seen in young girls at and around the time of puberty. This is because of the increasing levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone at this time. It usually decreases spontaneously as the menstrual cycle becomes established.
- Oral Contraceptive Pills : The estrogen and progesterone in the birth control pills stimulate the cervical glands, leading to an excessive vaginal discharge in some women.
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