A Snapshot on Vaginal Discharge and How We Should Manage it
Vaginal discharge is a common occurrence in women, and it serves several essential functions. However, changes in vaginal discharge can sometimes indicate an underlying health issue, so it’s necessary to understand what’s normal and what’s not.
Vaginal discharge is the fluid that comes from the vagina and cervix. It can vary in texture, color, and amount throughout the menstrual cycle, and it’s produced by the cervix and the walls of the vagina. Vaginal discharge can serve a few different purposes, including cleaning the vagina, providing lubrication, and protecting against infection. Some common types of discharge include clear or white discharge, thick and white discharge, and thin and stretchy discharge that resembles egg whites.
There are limited studies on the prevalence of vaginal discharge in Indonesia. Still, it is known that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a significant public health concern. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Health, the most common STIs in Indonesia are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, and these infections can cause vaginal discharge as a symptom. The prevalence of STIs is highest among young people, particularly those aged 15-24.
While vaginal discharge is normal, changes in the color, smell, or amount of discharge can indicate an underlying health issue, particularly if it is associated with other symptoms like itching or burning. When the vaginal discharge is associated with an STI can be a sign of infection. It should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. If left untreated, STIs can lead to serious complications like pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and even certain types of cancer.
Women must be aware of what’s normal for their bodies and seek medical attention if they notice any changes in their vaginal discharge. Practicing good hygiene, using barrier methods during sexual activity, and getting regular STI testing can also help prevent and detect STIs early on. Additionally, it’s essential to talk to healthcare providers openly and honestly about any concerns related to vaginal discharge or sexual health.