If you’re a woman, then you know that your vagina is going to secrete all sorts of discharge. Discharge can be regulated by the menstrual cycle, varying from clear to creamy depending on what day of the cycle it is. This discharge is your body’s way of carrying out the old cells that line the vagina and keeping it healthy. The texture and color can change from clear and watery to thick and creamy when you ovulate or are sexually excited. However, an unusual discharge could also be the first signs of an infection. If you’re noticing a new kind of discharge that looks like cottage cheese, here are a few things it could be.
1. Cottage-Cheese-Like Discharge During Pregnancy
Thick, creamy discharge which is usually odorless is normal during the first trimester and can continue into the third trimester of pregnancy. During the first trimester, your body is working extra hard to keep the cervix moist and plugged. The body heat from all this work could liquefy this sealant which then leads to it getting discharged in greater quantities. You can ignore this unless there is any blood in the discharge. In the third trimester, the body is just lubricating the vagina for labor, also completely normal.
A Yeast Infection
A healthy vagina always has some amount of yeast but if it’s allowed to grow unchecked, it can lead to an infection. The discharge this infection causes can be white and clumpy like cottage cheese and might also be accompanied by severe burning or itching. Certain conditions can cause this, like pregnancy, diabetes, a course of antibiotics or even too much sweating and moisture in the vaginal area. Yeast infection is never caused by sex, however, if you are having sex during this time, it’s best to use condoms. Over-the-counter ointments are the best treatment but you will still need a doctor to diagnose this infection first.
The vagina is also home to millions of bacteria, both the good and bad kind. When the bad bacteria multiply faster than the good, it causes bacterial vaginosis. This condition is marked by a whitish discharge that has a fishy smell. Treatment for bacterial vaginosis usually includes oral antibiotics and vaginal gels. Bacterial Vaginosis is not dangerous but if left untreated can make you susceptible to STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia. It is always best to consult a doctor to rule out the possibility of sexually transmitted infections causing the discharge.
Trichomoniasis, or Trich for short, is caused by the bacteria Trichomonas and is very common, affecting almost 3.7 million Americans. The problem is that only 30% of them will have any noticeable symptoms. When people aren’t aware that they have Trich, they can unknowingly spread it through semen and vaginal fluids during unprotected sex. It affects both women and men, however, older women appear to be more susceptible to it. Those women who do show symptoms might have a red, itchy vulva and white to green discharge with a foul smell. While it can be treated easily with a course of antibiotics, it can live on for years if it is left unattended.
And Relief When You Have An Infection
If you’re using feminine cleaning products, then it might come as a shock to you that these can actually make you more susceptible to infection. Douching is bad for you, even when you have an infection and your genital area does not smell good. A douche destroys the good bacteria and yeast that are important for your vaginal health. Plain old soap and water are all you need to keep yourself clean. Avoid feminine hygiene sprays, perfumed toilet papers, deodorant pads, bubble baths or tampons when you have an infection. Avoid wearing tight clothes that cut off your circulation like tight leotards, pants or pantyhose. Let your vaginal area breathe by wearing simple cotton underwear. Better yet, don’t wear any underwear at night.