An abnormal whitish discharge
from the vagina, which
may occur at any age. It affects most women at some time in their lives. The amount of normal vaginal
secretion varies among women
and in the same woman during the menstrual
cycle. Excess mucus production
may occur normally as a result of sexual
and emotional stimulation, at the time of ovulation, and during pregnancy. Secretions
are greater just before
and after menstruation.
In leukorrhea, the abnormal
vaginal discharge may just be excessive or it may be purulent (pus-filled) as a result of an infection by Trichomonas vaginalis
(a protozoan), Candida albicans
(thrush), or Gardnerella vaginalis
, which causes a "fishy" odor, worse after
washing with soap. A purulent discharge may be due also to disease
of the cervix or uterus, to senile vaginitis, o to the presence
of foreign objects.
Any prolonged or foul-smelling discharge needs to be attended to by a physician. Treatment depends on the cause; many medication, in cream and suppository
form, are available by prescription. Genital hygiene is important, but douching is more likely to treat
the symptoms rather then the cause and is therefore of limited value.