Confused by what you see in your underwear? Want to know if what’s coming out of your vagina is normal or if it's considered yeast infection discharge? Just as there are changes in your life from periods to pregnancies, there will be changes in your vaginal discharge. Gross, maybe but it’s just our body’s way of telling you what’s going on. Read on to find out what the color or odor of your vaginal discharge means and what to do to naturally treat yeast infections with 10 great home remedies.
Vaginal Discharge & Yeast Infection Treatments
Types of Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge naturally fluctuates with hormone levels. This means it can change week by week and even day by day. The main hormone that affects vaginal discharge is estrogen. Estrogen typically reaches its peak during ovulation (the middle of your menstrual cycle) to help with fertilization. It also tends to increase slightly in the days before menses (your period) begins, which is why you may get some extra discharge before that “time of the month”. Pregnancy affects the cervix (and a bunch of other things too) which can affect vaginal discharge, particularly at the beginning of your second trimester. But, it is super important to let your doctor known about abnormal discharge. It could be a sign of infection if it has a different color or odor or is accompanied by redness, itching, or swelling of your vulva (the medical word for your lips down there).CLEAR Discharge
Normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy (and when you’re not pregnant) is called leukorrhea. It is thin, white, milky, and mild smelling. It can also be described as watery discharge. Leukorrhea is NORMAL discharge so there is nothing to worry about.WHITE Discharge
Thick, white discharge: often occurs during ovulation (~ day 14 of your cycle) due to estrogen increase; NORMAL
Gooey/Clumpy: few days before your period (~days 18-23) due to estrogen increase; NORMAL
Thick, smelly discharge: possible infection, some people describe a fishy smell
Odorless with pain during urination/sex or burning sensation: possible yeast infection (candidiasis), some people say it looks like cottage cheese. This is just one example of yeast infection symptoms in women.PINK Discharge
Discharge is usually pink because there is a small amount of blood. In most cases, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s often due to spotting before your period or vaginal/cervical irritation often from sexual intercourse. It can also be due to implantation bleeding (about 1 in 3 women experience it) which is when the fertilized egg is attaching to the uterus.BROWN Discharge
You may see brown discharge due to old blood mixing with white discharge. This often occurs towards the end of your period which is NORMAL.RED Discharge
If you’re pregnant, you may be having your bloody show! It will be thick, mostly white but tinged with red. Meaning, here comes baby! This is caused by the detachment of the cervical mucus plug that seals the cervix during pregnancy and is a sign that labor is imminent.
If you’re pregnant, and you notice bright red discharge more than an ounce (1/2 of a shot glass), call your doctor immediately because this could be a sign of placenta previa (blood without pain). If you notice dark red discharge in the same amount, it could be placental abruption (blood with pain), also called abruptio placenta, meaning there are issues with your placenta, and thus a true pregnancy emergency.
If you are NOT pregnant, red discharge could mean menstruation. However, if bleeding occurs outside of your menstrual cycle, it could be a symptom of cervical infection or cervical polyp.YELLOW Discharge
Gonorrhea has yellow discharge with pain during urination and sexual intercourse. Luckily it can be treated with a round of antibiotics.GREEN Discharge
Trichomoniasis symptoms include a greenish-yellow frothy discharge, genital itching, and pain during urination and sexual intercourse. Luckily it can be treated with a round of antibiotics.GREY Discharge
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) has a white or greyish discharge with a fishy smell but does not have a burning or itching sensation. Luckily it can be treated with a round of antibiotics in a cream, gel or oral form.
The Science behind Vaginal Discharge?
Our bodies are incredibly resilient. That being said, it usually can fend for itself. However, sometimes our bodies can overreact to certain foreign substances which can be good to fight off infection, but not so good when it’s just a fragrance in your soap. So, if you are having reoccurring issues please see your gynecologist or OB/GYN. But first, take a look at the stuff you use every day. Is your vagina reacting to the soap you use or sprays you’re using to make it smell better? If so, your body could be trying to ward off a foreign intruder which could be causing your discomfort. When you're pregnant your immune system decreases, thus making you more susceptible to infections. Skin, mouth and vaginal infections are common because they are in contact with the external environment.
One great way to treat and prevent vaginal infections as well as maintain vaginal health is taking probiotics. Probiotics that have an equal blend of lactobacillus rhamnosus and lactobacillus reuteri, two healthy vaginal microbes, are a great option. By keeping and adding to the healthy bacteria down there you can stay free of infections. If you want to learn more about it, check out this study. Did you know that in a 2012 study with women that had chronic yeast infections, nearly 87% reported improvement in their systems with probiotic pills and helped as an ongoing preventative measure months later? You could be part of that 87%. Probiotics are just one of many ways to keep your vagina healthy. Below are some more great ways to treat and prevent yeast infections, but first let find out what is a yeast infection, yeast infection causes, and yeast infection symptoms.
What is a yeast infection?
A yeast infection is a fungal infection often caused by Candida albicans. Since the Candida family is often the culprit yeast infections can also be called candidiasis or more specifically vaginal candidiasis. Below are some common candida symptoms.
Signs of a Yeast Infection
- Vaginal itching and irritation
- Burning sensation during urination (micturition) or sex
- Vaginal rash
- Redness and swelling of the vulva (the lips down there)
Yeast Infection Causes
Most often a change in environment answers the question: what causes a yeast infection? Women with diabetes, a suppressed immune system (yep, that includes pregnant women, unfortunately), who are taking antibiotics or who are taking medication that increases estrogen (like birth control) are at a higher risk for developing a yeast infection. While certain clothing does not cause a yeast infection, yeast, since it is a fungus, does thrive in warm, moist environments. So staying in those sweaty clothes after you go to the gym could make you more likely to get a yeast infection. Therefore, if you're wondering how do you get a yeast infection, think if there have been any changes like the ones mentioned above.
Yeast Infection Medicine
Sometimes medication is required to treat a yeast infection; however, there are also some great home remedies for yeast infections to try. We have 10 great ways on how to cure a yeast infection or prevent one below! However, if you have recurrent yeast infections or after talking to your doctor decide that medication is a better treatment plan, here are some common yeast infection medications to be aware of.
- Monistat: This is a yeast infection cream and you will have to use it for about a week.
- Terconazole: This is also a yeast infection cream that you'll have to use for about a week.
- Fluconazole (Diflucan): This is a yeast infection pill that is often given in a single dose. However, this oral medication is not recommended (contraindicated) for pregnant women.
How long does a Yeast Infection last?
This depends on how severe the yeast infection is and how soon you implement a yeast infection cure. Mild yeast infections could take only a few days to clear, while moderate and severe yeast infections could take 1-2 weeks to clear up.
Can Men get Yeast Infections?
YES! Men are susceptible to yeast infections as well. The Candida fungus doesn't pick and choose between genders. However, women could be more susceptible simply due to lifestyle habits (i.e. tighter underwear, medications with estrogen).
Natural Yeast Infection Treatments
Wondering how to get rid of a yeast infection? Or how to cure a yeast infection? Check out these home remedies for yeast infection. But, please remember: before trying any of these natural remedies for yeast infection, discuss them with your physician and more importantly do not put ANYTHING up your vagina if your water has broken. You will have no barrier to the baby and can cause a direct source of infection to your brand-new baby that is coming VERY soon. You should also see your doctor if you have recurrent yeast infections, are pregnant or if you have been exposed to an STI before trying these natural remedies for yeast infection.
- Boric Acid Suppositories: 600mg capsule inserted vaginally for 2 weeks (consult a doctor); use with antifungal, flucytosine
- Tea Tree Oil: its antifungal properties which help treat yeast (Candida albicans) infections. When you’re NOT pregnant, soak a tampon in coconut oil and 3-5 drops of tea tree oil (TTO) and insert it vaginally. Leave it in for 2 hours and then rinse the area; do this once a day.
- Yogurt: eating yogurt has been said to aid in the treatment of yeast infections because it has probiotics or the “good bacteria”. One study showed a reduction in fungal colonization when women consumed DanActive yogurt. In some cases, actually applying yogurt to the vulva has shown improvement. Some people recommend finding a yogurt with low sugar and whose label says, “live and active cultures”. Although not as much research has been done on this remedy, current research shows promise.
- Coconut oil: Adding it to your diet or even applying it externally can help ease symptoms. You can soak a tampon in coconut oil, as I mentioned earlier, just remember to take it out after two hours and rinse. Also, fun fact: coconut oil makes great lube too (and it tastes great too). Just don’t use it with condoms, it breaks down the material.
- Oil of oregano from wild oregano: This is called origanum vulgare and it contains 2 potent antifungals: thymol and carvacrol. This wild oregano was found to halt or inhibit the growth of candida albicans. Remember mix a few drops of this oil with about 1oz of another oil (sweet almond or coconut), soak a tampon in it and change it every 2-4 hours.
How to prevent a yeast infection?
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing so your vagina can breathe. Try no underwear while you sleep.
- Rinse yourself as soon as you get done with the gym. Take any wet swimsuits or sweaty clothes off immediately and dry your genitals thoroughly after showering.
- Avoid vaginal sprays, perfumes, lotions, and douches.
- Use water-based lubricants during sex.
- Take probiotics or eat yogurt (support that healthy bacteria)
Now you know what your vaginal discharge is trying to tell you, which natural remedies actually work, and what preventative measures can be taken to make sure your vagina is always in tip-top shape. Want to hear this information again? Listen to our podcast below!Listen to "Vaginal Discharge Pregnancy Pukeology Podcast Episode 22" on Spreaker.