Womens Health

Vaginal Infections and Discharge FAQs

From Woman's Diagnostic Cyber
Frederick R. Jelovsek MD

For information on gynecological issues check out www.gynob.com.

Get answers to the uncomfortable questions about Vaginal Itching

Clear, white vaginal discharge

I am noticing a discharge that is unusual. It is clear or white in color, but it has the consistency of (for lack of a better word) snott. There is a slight odor to it, however I am not experiencing any pain, or itching. I have no idea what this is, but I would like to clear it up very soon. I am thinking of getting an over-the-counter yeast infection medication because I can't get in to see my doctor for another month. Do you have any ideas as to what this may be, or if the yeast infection medication will help?

This doesn't sound like a yeast infection because you don't describe vulvar itching and burning or a whitish thick discharge usually characteristic of yeast. Therefore I don't think using yeast medication will help.

Itching and dry skin - is it yeast?

I think I have early signs of a yeast infection. I felt itchy and noticed that I had some dry flaky skin. The skin is red but I assume it's a result of scratching. The itching is not severe and it's once in a while but enough for me to notice and check it out. I actually noticed the itching in the midst of my period. There's no bleeding or broken skin in the area where it has dry skin. I guess I'm a little concerned and was wondering if anyone has experienced something like this. I've had yeast infections before but I don't recall getting dry skin.

Itching is often a sign of a contact allergy. The fact that it is happening during your menses would prompt me to ask if you are wearing any type of pads or liners (as opposed to a tampon). Could you be sensitive to a certain brand? Yeast usually produces burning rather than itching but not always. Sometimes there are other fungal infections such as tinea species that can produce itching on the "dry" skin. If this persists or worsens it should be checked out.

I recently started using a different brand of condoms (well my partner) and It contains nonoxynol 9 could be be a reaction to that?

It can be. We see reactions to vaginal foam that contains nonoxynol 9 but it's hard to tell if its that specifically or some of the other carrying agents used. The only way to tell with the condom is either going back to a brand you previously used or abstinence for long enough to tell if the problem goes away. This is an area where you will need to be your own detective with trial and error of different materials/substances that that area comes in contact with.

It went away -- lasted only two days. everything seems normal. No itching, burning, or smell. guess everything is fine and it's just a contact thing like you said....?

Odorous vaginal discharge

I've been having abnormal discharges (thick and have an odor) for a while now...is this vaginitis? and since I've had this problem for so long...could I have become sterile? Is there any medication that I can use to help that does not require a prescription? I don't feel comfortable talking about this with my parents let alone my doctor...please reply back with your suggestions and input...it would be greatly appreciated.

An odorous vaginal discharge can sometimes be a symptom of bacterial vaginitis. It should be checked out. I know you may feel uncomfortable talking about this with your doctor, but that's what the doctor is there for. This is a common problem that your doctor has heard many times before. If you avoid bringing it up, the poor doctor will go out of business! In general, vaginitis doesn't cause sterility. If you get a sexually transmitted disease, that can cause sterility. The doctor checks for that by doing a cervical culture or smear at the time of a vaginal exam. As far as home remedies, the only thing I know of would be douching. In this process you are rinsing out any vaginal or cervical secretions so that bacteria have less material on which to produce odorous causing chemicals. There actually is evidence that regular douching seems to increase the incidence of vaginal infections. However, if you already have a problem, douching is often effective in reducing the symptoms. Betadine douche is one still recommended by many physicians. If the symptoms don't clear up after douching 3/week for one or two weeks, you really should see your doctor.

Recurring yeast infections - milky white discharge

I have asked about it before but I would like to get a little more detailed. I am 29 and I have been on the pill (Marvelon) from 1986 until 1994. I got pregnant in August 1994 and had to terminate the pregnancy. I got back on the pill in the summer of 1995. At the end of 1995 I started having yeast infections on a regular basis. In 1996 I had 8 of them throughout the year. I also had a bacterial infection once that year. Almost all the time when I have a yeast infection, I also have a skin rash, the same kind I've been having off and on since I was little. I put hydrocortisone cream on the rash and it will go away with that. For yeast infections, I take Diflucan. This helps for that moment but I have to take a higher dose every time I take it, probably because my doctor told me to take it every month just to prevent it, and I might have become resistant to it. I have tried Terazol too but this gave me fever, muscle aches and cold chills. A few weeks after taking Diflucan, the yeast infection comes back and I have to start over again. I have stopped taking Diflucan on a regular basis now. For my feeling, the recurring yeast infection started after I got back on the pill in 1995. I took Levlen, which gave me big bumps on my face and neck and made me spot in between periods. Now I use Ortho-Tricyclen and the bumps got a little less. Spotting is not happening anymore but the yeast infections keep coming back. I eat healthy (low fat, high fiber) although I have a sweet tooth. I eat fruit and yogurt everyday and take vitamin supplements daily. I exercise 3 times a week and take a shower right after that. I wear cotton underwear and don't douche, wash my vagina only with water and don't sit in the bathtub. My partner and I have been together since the beginning of 1995 and we are in a monogamous relationship. We both tested negative for HIV and I have tested negative for diabetes. Also my partner has used the OTC yeast infection cream which didn't make a difference. He has been checked for yeast but was negative. Right now, I am on the 15th day of my cycle and I have a milky white discharge. When I go to the bathroom I see 1/2 inch big drops of discharge. Is this normal or is it yeast again?

A milky white discharge is usually normal. It represents cervical and vaginal secretions that contain old vaginal wall cells (epithelium). As long as there is no vulvar burning/itching, this does not represent a symptomatic yeast infection.

Could it be possible that the yeast infection is an allergic reaction to something?

Allergic reactions (contact) of the vaginal or vulvar epithelium are often confused with yeast infections because they cause a histamine release in the skin of the vulva with subsequent itching or burning. That is one reason why culture for yeast is so important because you may assume it's a yeast infection when in fact it is allergic. The most common allergens are feminine hygiene sprays, contraceptive foam and jelly, even carrying agents in anti-yeast preparations, lubricants on condoms, or soaps or bath oils. It doesn't sound as if these are a problem in your case but you have to be your own detective with allergens. The fact you are sensitive to terazole does make allergy more likely.

Are there any other things I can try or am I just "doomed" to take yeast infection medication on a regular basis for the rest of my life?

Make sure this is yeast. Sometimes women with sensitive skin will react to any normal vaginal secretions when they get on the vulva because the secretions are naturally acidic. You can try petrolatum jelly (Vaseline) to coat the vulva (a small layer) to protect it from acidic discharge or you can use a tampon to block the discharge from getting to the vulva and irritating it. These would be tests to see if it is just an acidic (but normal) discharge you are reacting to or a yeast infection. These things will usually not prevent the reaction to a yeast infection.

Could it help to stop taking the pill?

Some women will get more yeast infections on certain birth control pills. I think it has to do with the specific progestogen in the pill. I would suspect that Levelen would be worse than Ortho Tricyclen because it has a stronger progestogen than Ortho- Tricyclen. Sometimes when we have women discontinue pills, recurrent yeast infection gets better; other times there is no difference in the rate of infection. It would take a 3 month trial off of the pills to tell.

Boric acid as treatment for recurring yeast infections

What about boric acid?

Boric acid vaginal suppositories have been used in the past for resistant, recurrent yeast infections. Many experts in vaginitis clinics use them still. Unfortunately in the U.S. we don't have any commercial vaginal suppositories with boric acid. Perhaps in Europe there are some if that's where you are. We have to have the pharmacist mix them up. Find an experienced pharmacist who remembers the formulation.

These recurrent infections usually run their course after several years. Something in the biochemistry of the vagina changes and they disappear or at least get much less frequent as long as there is not an underlying disease. Have hope. At the risk of losing you due to repetition, make sure this is recurrent yeast infection by culture and not just by visual diagnosis of the physician. I can't count how many women I've seen who thought they were having recurrent yeast infection when in fact their cultures were negative and their discharge was just irritative, but not infectious.

Resistance to Diflucan®?

I'm 29 years old and for the last year and a half I've been having yeast infections almost every other month. One of my doctors told me to take Diflucan every other week for a few months and then every month just to prevent. Now two weeks ago I had another yeast infection and my doctor gave me a prescription for Diflucan again because I'm allergic to Terazol. I had to take 3 times the normal dose of Diflucan to make the yeast go away. Is it possible that my body is immune to Diflucan now? The yeast infection went away but now, 3 weeks later, I have one again. I'm so desperate! Is there anything else I can try? I'm taking the pill now, but I want to try to stop taking it to see if that might make a difference. Please help me!!

Resistance of candida (yeast) species to Diflucan are becoming more and more a problem, probably because it is being used so much to treat yeast instead of topical, vaginal medications which usually don't develop as many resistances. Terazol® which you react to, is actually the most effective topical medication with the least resistance. That being said, it is still extremely important to make sure of the diagnosis. Vaginal and vulvar irritation can be due to causes other than yeast. (See our news about cultures for yeast. Assuming that you and your doctor are absolutely sure of the diagnosis of recurrent yeast infection and there are no predisposing factors such as diabetes, antibiotic use, immune disease or immunotherapy use, then the treatment becomes problematical trial and error. You need to work with the physician to find medication to use periodically to keep it in check. Dietary change and douching may also play a role.

Clumpy vaginal discharge with white cells

Hello, I am 24 and for the past 4 months have noticed that my discharge is not like it used to be. I was on an anovulatory cycle for about 9 months because of hyperprolactinemia. I started taking Parlodel and started my usual cycle about 8 months ago. After I started my period, I stopped taking the Parlodel because it makes me so ill. Well I have been pretty regular except the bleeding for the past couple of months have been for 8 days instead of my normal 6 days and for the past 4 months my discharge has changed. The whole week after my period it will be lite and a little clumpy, then the clumpiness will go away almost totally during my mid cycle, and then about a week before my period starts it will become very thick and clumpy. When my period starts it goes away and the cycle continues. There is no odor and no itching. I thought it was a yeast infection at first. I have been to three doctors and they all tell me that my tests come out normal on vaginal cultures. On wet mount they find epithelial cells and Lactobacilli along with an elevated amount of WBC's. I keep asking them that if there is so many WBC's then it means I have a vaginal infection or something but they keep telling me that it may be normal for me. I am wondering if my hormones have anything to do with this problem because I have been wondering if I should get a fourth opinion. I thought that you go to the doctor if something is out of the norm and I do but then they tell me it is normal. I am really stressing out over this.

Vaginal discharge varies in its nature and consistency from one person to another and even for one person throughout the menstrual cycle. Commonly the discharge is grayish white or clear. The cells come from the vaginal lining and fluid from the vagina and the cervix. It often gets thin (non clumpy) at mid cycle of the menses because the cervical mucous is thin and copious if ovulation has taken place that cycle. In the 2nd half of the cycle it becomes thickened and sometimes clumpy under the effect of progesterone. These are all normal mechanisms to help a woman become pregnant at the mid cycle time of ovulation and then "block" the cervix in the 2nd half of the cycle so that if a pregnancy occurs there won't be any ascending infection.

When a woman is anovulatory, there is less discharge and not the monthly variation in consistency. It sounds as if, in some respects, what you describe is normal now (for ovulation) and was just different when you were anovulatory.

The white cells in the discharge change things a little. Usually there are not too many white blood cells (WBCs) in vaginal discharge. It's difficult to know if what your doctor has seen is "too much" or not. WBCs can indicate infection but usually of the cervix, not the vagina. If the cervical mucous is clear or white, not yellowish, there usually is not an infection that needs treatment. All that being said, there have been instances where doctors have just treated with antibiotics for a "cervicitis" just because of the amount of vaginal discharge. Sometimes it gets better and other times it doesn't change because there really wasn't any infectious process in the first place. Usually, if I see numerous white cells on vaginal wet prep, I treat with an antibiotic cream (Cleocin®) vaginally or and erythromycin or Zithromax® oral antibiotic as an empirical trial. I would say it clears up the problem about 50% of time.


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hi, Im 22 I recently had a baby $months ago and i just started having sex again my fiancee and i don't use protection and Ive noticed a heavy flow of discharge my pantyliner is always full and i need to bath twice to make sure it doesn't smell Ive changed the soap im using thinking it was the problem but still nothing has changed and its normally white or abit yellow and thick but yesterday white clumps came out Im confused ? am i suffering from an STI or is this one of the symptoms of past pregnancy ? im worried
2 years ago
Hi, i am 20 years old and I\'ve been having discharge for years now. Not exactly sure at what age I\'ve had it, but lately I\'ve been having really heavy thick discharge . It has no odor, its a yellowish color and every now and then i get an itchy feeling. When i try cleaning myself i get a rash burning feeling. I know its not an STD symptom because i lost my virginity this year and i know my only partner doesn\'t have an STD . Can you please help me? Also what are the home remedies?
2 years ago
Hi, I need some help please. I am 24 yrs old,I have had the same partner for 7yrs. I have a white thick clumpy discharge. It was normal all de while untill I had my daughter, after having her I saw the change in discharge about a month or two after giving normal vaginal birth. The discharge is odorless, I get itching inside the vaginal lips, the outside of the lips close to the vaginal opening , its unbearable cause when having sex its good for the first 5 minutes then it burns. Is this an yeast infection? I have had yeast infections before but none of them had the symptoms like this one... i really need some help Please, I'm beginning to worry that it might be something serious. Please get back tome with an answer soon ...Thanks
3 years ago
Please help! Im a 29 yr old female that has never had any type of vaginal infections not even a yeast infection. About 1 month ago I started having a white creamy discharge with no odor all the time (similar to ovulating discharge), after a week or 2 a got excessive and I got burning and itching of vag with it. So I went to store and bought a yeast infection test and monistat 1 day. My PH came back normal on the test indicating that its most likely just a yeast infection so i used the monistate 1 day. The burning and itching went away after 3 days but the discharge kind of changed to a light yellow in color with still no odor. What would cause this? Why would it help with the burning and itching but not the discharge? Why would the discharge turn yellow? Please please please help me cant get into the doctors for a few weeks and its driving me nuts, I need to know whats going on now!
3 years ago
i am 22 yrs old..i am experiencing a thicky and cheesy discharge..what should i do?
3 years ago
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