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Ask Your Gynecologist - I have a discharge but no itching or burning. Is that normal?

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It is normal to have a vaginal discharge. The vagina and cervix produce secretions. These secretions, along with vaginal bacteria and exfoliated vaginal cells (surface cells of the vagina that have been shed into the vagina), create a normal discharge. The normal vaginal discharge is clear or white. It should not be particularly "clumpy" or exceedingly "runny," and it should not have an unpleasant odor. It's normal for the discharge to increase in the middle of your menstrual cycle.

If you notice an increase in the amount of discharge, a foul odor, or a change in the color of the discharge, make an appointment to have it evaluated. This change may signal a vaginal infection or condition that should be treated. Yeast infections produce a secretion similar to cottage cheese in texture. Usually it is white and does not have a foul odor. Yeast infections are often accompanied by itching and can usually be treated with an antifungal product, either orally or vaginally. Atypical yeast and recurrent yeast infections may require more prolonged use of an antifungal, or the use of boric acid capsules, 600 mg vaginally, twice daily, for two weeks.

Two other vaginal conditions frequently cause an increased discharge. Both usually produce a profuse, foul-smelling discharge, but they may not be associated with burning or itching. Your only clue may be the increased discharge or odor. The most common of these is bacterial vaginosis (BV), which is actually more common than yeast infections. Most of the time BV presents without significant signs of inflammation. The most common symptom is an increased discharge with a foul, "fishy" odor. BV may increase the risk of preterm labor and premature rupture of membranes in pregnant women. It is also commonly associated with PID (see below).The condition is caused by a decrease in the number of lactobacilli (the usual dominant bacteria of the vagina), allowing an increase in the population of other bacteria that are normally absent or present in small numbers. One of these is called Gardnerella. Gardnerella is only one of a number of bacteria that overpopulate the vagina in this condition.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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