Abnormal vaginal discharge and bleeding is a common symptom of a wide range of conditions. Both discharge and bleeding are normal in many circumstances – bleeding is a natural part of your menstrual cycle and discharge is a way that your body cleans itself – but when these become abnormal, it can be quite disconcerting.
Abnormal vaginal discharge and bleeding may be caused by a number of things, from infections to common conditions like endometriosis.
If you are experiencing any abnormal activity downstairs, you should get in touch with your doctor, as this is likely your body telling you something is not right. Here we take a look at some of the common reasons for abnormal vaginal discharge and bleeding.
Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge is a fluid or a semi-solid substance that comes from the vaginal opening. It is very common, and most women will be familiar with some kind of discharge – it is part of the body’s natural cleansing process.
Abnormal vaginal discharge is when the discharge smells or looks odd, or when the amount is noticeably more than usual. There are a number of reasons why vaginal discharge may be abnormal. Some of the most common include:
A vaginal yeast infection – This occurs when the balance of bacteria and yeast changes in the vagina, causing yeast cells to multiply. Whitish-gray and semisolid vaginal discharge is a telltale symptom of a yeast infection.
Vulvovaginitis – This is an inflammation or infection of the vulva and vagina (also known as vulvitis and vaginitis). It may be caused by a number of things, and one of the key symptoms is increased strong-smelling vaginal discharge.
Trichomonas – Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and can cause a strong-smelling yellow-green vaginal discharge.
Chlamydia – Chlamydia is another common STI. Although symptoms often do not appear, a yellow or green discharge from the vagina may be a telltale sign of the infection.
Gonorrhoea – Gonorrhea is another common STI, and like chlamydia often does not cause any symptoms. However, a yellowish vaginal discharge is a common symptom.
Bacterial vaginosis – This is an infection caused by an overgrowth of atypical bacteria in the vagina. This typically produces a thin and greyish-white discharge.
Pelvic inflammatory disease – Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection or inflammation of the cervix, endometrium, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. Abnormal/foul-smelling vaginal discharge is a common symptom.
Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
Vaginal bleeding is, of course, a completely normal part of menstruation. Excessive or prolonged vaginal bleeding within the menstrual period is known as menorrhagia, whereas uterine bleeding outside the expected menstrual periods is known as metrorrhagia. A combination of the two is known as menometrorrhagia. This may be caused by:
Polycystic ovary syndrome – Women with polycystic ovary syndrome experience an abnormal production of hormones, which can cause ovulation to become inconsistent. These infrequent periods can be very heavy.
Fibroids – Fibroids are benign tumours that can appear on the uterus during a woman’s childbearing years. However, they can cause heavy periods.
Endometriosis – Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium begins growing outside the lining of the uterus, causing painful adhesions on the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and bowel. It can cause painful periods and infertility.
Endometrial cancer – Cancer of the uterus can cause heavy bleeding. It is rare among women who have not passed through menopause. Bleeding after menopause always needs to be investigated to rule this out.
Endometrial polyps – These are growths in the endometrium that can cause heavy bleeding.
Endometrial hyperplasia – This is when women develop an abnormally thick lining of the inside surface of their uterus. It can cause heavy bleeding.
Adenomyosis – This is where the when the endometrial glands grow in small pockets in the muscle of the uterus. They can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Hormonal changes and disorders – An overactive thyroid can cause irregular periods. Heavy bleeding is also more common in older women, so is thought to be linked to hormonal changes that occur in the later stages of a woman’s childbearing years.
If you have any questions regarding abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding and would like to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We will strive to offer advice and compassionate care in every way possible.