Vaginal discharge needs more attention!

 

Most people with a vagina will at some point in their life suffer with problematic vaginal discharge. For some this can be a one off, easily treated problem, for others it can become reoccurring, and for anyone trying to get pregnant problematic discharge needs to be addressed. A good Vaginal Microbiome is an essential part of supporting your fertility.

 

“1.2 million women in the UK suffer with thrush and approximately 1 in 3 will get Bacterial Vaginosis in their lifetime”

 

Reoccurring problems can cause pain, shame, loss of libido, irritation, discomfort and often people can be reluctant to seek proper help. Peri menopausal and menopausal people are at more risk and if you’re trying for a baby, vaginal health issues can cause multiple problems.

 

Problematic vaginal discharge means that there is an imbalance of the microbes in the vagina. Some of these imbalances have been linked to infertility, implantation issues, reduced rates of successful IVF, miscarriage, and preterm labour. So, isn’t it time we talked more openly about discharge, what is right, what is wrong and what we need to be looking out for?

 

 

What is healthy discharge?

 

The vagina has a delicately balanced eco system made up of “good “and “bad” bacteria, which when in balance keeps the vagina at a healthy pH (3.8 to 4.5) This protects it from infection and maintains a good level of the healthy bacteria. In these conditions there are various types of normal vaginal discharge which include:

 

  • Cervical mucus, a vaginal discharge made by the cervix and is normal and essential part of the menstrual cycle and women’s fertility. In fact, without it pregnancy is difficult because sperm dies immediately in the vagina and it is one of the best signs that you are potentially fertile.

 

  • Other vaginal discharge is the fluid that comes out of the vagina and is made up of cells from the cervix and vagina, bacteria, mucus, and water. This discharge helps to protect the vaginal and urinary tract against infections and provides lubrication to the vaginal tissues.

 

  • Arousal Fluid is a normal discharge produced by the vagina during sexual arousal. There is an increased blood flow to your genitals, including the vaginal walls, which causes fluid to pass through them. This makes the tissues wet and provides lubrication.

 

 

What is not normal?

 

Problematic discharge can happen when the vagina’s microbial community gets out of balance. This means there is a decrease in the number of “good” microbes and an increase in “bad” microbes, which then impacts the pH and infection arises.

 

Changes in discharge can be one of the first signs that something isn’t right and therefore knowing what to look out for is vital for your health and your fertility.

 

Look out for changes in Consistency, Colour, Volume and Smell

 

  • Consistency: Fluid becomes unusually thinner, or thicker and more textured

 

  • Colour: Discharge that is grey, green, yellow, or brown

 

  • Volume: Significant and unexpected in volume

 

  • Smell: Fishy, metallic, or just different

 

The 3 most common causes of problematic discharge are, Bacterial Vaginosis, Vulva/Vaginal Candida (thrush) and Trichomoniasis. It’s important to remember that both BV and Trich can be symptomless so problems in this area should be kept in mind if you’re struggling to conceive, have suffered miscarriage and/or IVF failure.

 

What can you do?

 

Many people try over the counter creams and treatments, but we would always advise a swab to help with a diagnosis, especially in repeat cases and/or if you’re preparing for pregnancy/IVF.

In this clinic we always recommend a more comprehensive level of testing with the Invivo Vaginal Ecologix. This is an in-depth assessment of the health of the vaginal microbiome as a whole. This includes the pH of the vagina, information about the Lactobacillus (the good bacteria), levels of inflammation, detailed information about different levels of “bad” bacteria and the presence of any co-infections which are especially important for fertility.

If you’d like to find out more please do email vicky@hannahpearn.com and we can organise this test and follow up recommendations as part of your ongoing treatment with us. Alternatively we can offer online consultations and testing if you’re not in the London area.