The body has a variety of fluids that allow the organs to shift as humans move, and expand and contract during digestion. Other fluids such as lymph help move disease fighting white blood cells throughout the body. Blood pumps oxygen from head to the toes. Genital lubrication is similar in that it prepares women’s reproductive organs for childbirth.
Menopause brings hormonal imbalances that signal the end of fertility. Vaginal fluids may wane with the body’s loss of estrogen and progesterone. Women experience vaginal discharge even after their period’s end, as a tool for removing the remaining lining of the uterine wall, to lubricate the genital for sexual intimacy and to maintain a proper Ph balance. Vaginal discharge, similar to other body fluids can change appearance, texture, and odor depending on a woman’s health, and normal bacterial balances. Although these changes may cause concern, vaginal discharge is normal.
Vaginal Dryness Discharge
Mucus membranes in the vagina and cervix create fluids daily. During sexual stimulation, breast-feeding, ovulation, and hormonal changes, vaginal discharge helps women to maintain reproductive health. Even women experiencing vaginal dryness may have discharge. Some women notice a thick, white discharge signaling ovulation.
As women age, irregular periods, and hormone imbalances cause dark discharge in between periods. Menopausal women without menstrual cycles can experience vaginal discharge that is watery and odorous. All of these fluids are part of the normal process of fluctuating hormones as the body adjusts to the end of fertility. Reproductive organs contain healthy bacteria, hormones, and acids that control the temperature, Ph balance, and exact chemical environment for egg and sperm fertilization. No longer in need of this exact balance, the body’s chemistry changes abruptly.
Stress, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, infections, pregnancy, and menopause can all effect discharge frequency, duration, and consistency.Common compounds that increase vaginal infections include yeast, a normal property of vaginal environment; Gardnerella, bacteria living in female genitals; Trichomonas and bacteria related to sexually transmitted diseases. Unbalanced Ph levels in the vagina can increase yeast production, creating infection. Unhygienic toileting routines can also increase bacteria.
Menopause and Vaginal Discharge
Women can lose 80% to 90% of estrogen and progesterone stores during menopause. These hormones control body temperature, mood, sleep patterns, weight management, fluid maintenance, and sex drive. Vaginal discharge during this life change can exist alongside vaginal dryness. Vaginal discharge does not maintain moisture in the vagina. It is a chemical reaction resulting from shrinking vaginal walls and waning hormone levels.
Treatment for Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge, a normal process of female reproductive health can be maintained through regular bathing. Women should avoid perfume sprays, powders, lotions and other hygiene products because they can create yeast infections and vaginal irritation. Douching is not necessary and can even disrupt healthy bacterial balances in the vagina. Hot tubs can also disrupt healthy Ph balances, use in moderation. Check laundry detergents and fabric softeners. Condoms, diaphragms, and spermicides can cause allergic reactions and vaginal irritation.
Women, who are concerned about their pregnancy risk, should consult their doctor for alternative forms of birth control. Cotton underwear wicks moisture away from the genitalia and can decrease vaginal irritation. When using the toilet, be sure to wipe the genitalia back from the vagina to the rectum or from the front to back. Wiping the vagina first can reduce and prevent the spread of infection and bacteria from the rectum to the vagina or cervix. Wearing tight undergarments at night can increase night sweats and vaginal discharge. When bathing in the tub use small amounts of chemical and dye-free soaking salts.
Avoiding heavy use of deodorant menstrual pads, small daily pads, and tampons will reduce the risk of vaginal discharge. Women who drink plenty of water, eat a healthy diet, limit the consumption of caffeine and alcohol reduce their risk of vaginal infection, vaginal dryness and odorous vaginal discharge. Women who are concerned about severe or continuous vaginal discharge should consult a doctor to avoid risk of infection or undiagnosed illness.