Each woman lives her own version of “normal,” this is especially true when it comes to vaginal health. The vagina contains a very delicate network of organisms that contribute to its overall health. This network is so finely balanced that just the wrong underwear material could unbalance the pH levels. Here are five ways to identify that something might be wrong.
Changes in discharge
Discharge is normal and usually revolves around the menstrual cycle. Anna Druet, researcher and Clue’s Science and Education lead, states the best way to know when something is wrong is to become familiarized with your version of “normal.” Vaginal discharge can be light or nonexistent during the beginning of the cycle and become heavier and odorous the closer you get to ovulation. Odor can be present or not present depending on the person. You can spot when something is wrong if your volume of discharge suddenly increases or you incur a strange smell.
Sometimes other factors can contribute to vaginal odors. According to medical writer Lana Barhum, the smell of bleach or ammonia coming from your underwear could be a sign of dehydration. Ammonia is present in urine and without enough water to dilute the smell, you might experience a pungent odor.
If you experience a “fishy” odor coming from your vagina it could be an indicator that your balance of “good bacteria” is off. According to an article on how to get rid of vaginal odor by Zawn Villines and reviewed by Dr. Debra Rose Wilson, it suggests that the presence of “bad bacteria” can be overwhelming the presence of “good bacteria” if using antibiotics. Villines encourages urinating immediately after sex and using a gentle soap on the vulva afterwards.
According to a study done by the University of Washington School of Medicine, wiping from back to front can cause fecal matter to get into the vaginal canal and travel to the urinary tract which can cause recurring urinary tract infections (UTI). UTIs are treated with antibiotics, but unfortunately, once you develop a UTI there is a high chance it may return.
Sex is painful
There are various reasons for pain during or immediately following intercourse. According to Dr. John G McManus Jr, some reasons could be the presence of a sexually transmitted disease (STD), injury, irritation, or infection. Women may experience pain during their first time having intercourse but should speak to a doctor if the pain persists.
It hurts for no reason
If you have vaginal pain for seemingly no reason, this might be an indication of an infection or trauma. Dr. William Shiel Jr. reveals this may be a symptom of a yeast infection. Women on antibiotics or cortisone medications may be at an increased risk for yeast infections. It is important to talk to a physician and get a full exam if you are having pain with unknown origin.
The most important part of vaginal health is being familiar with your version of normal and monitoring it, so if things do change you are immediately aware. Keep track of your vaginal health and consult with your doctor if there is any cause for concern.