Vaginal discharge is also known as Leucorrhea. The flow of leucorrhea can be smooth or lumpy and sticky. This is a normal phenomenon that affects all women but may increase or decrease with age and when travelling. Vaginal discharge is the body’s way of removing dead cell and toxic material from the vaginal tract. It requires medical attention only when it changes colour and becomes darker or when the flow increases to a point where it cannot be stopped even when using a sanitary napkin.

There are a number of reasons why this flow may become excessive. These include:

1. Infections:

The vagina is very susceptible to fungal, bacterial and parasitic infections. These infections can be promoted by poor hygiene, the use of synthetic underwear and unprotected sexual intercourse. An increase in vaginal discharge is usually one of the first signs of a vaginal infection.

 2. Injury: 

Giving birth to a child, having an abortion or excessive sexual intercourse may irritate the lining of the vagina and cause an injury. This, in turn, can trigger leucorrhea.

3. Diseases:

Diseases such as diabetes or anaemia may weaken the immune system and trigger vaginal infections causing an excessive discharge. A UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) or worms in the stomach may also spread an infection in the vagina. 

4. Contraceptives:

Contraceptive sprays and jellies used during intercourse can irritate the vagina and cause excessive discharging. In some cases, irritation of an intra-uterine contraceptive device can also cause discharge and pain.

 5. Bad hygiene: 

Not changing your underwear often enough, forgetting to change tampons or sharing public toilets can also increase vaginal discharge. 

Leucorrhea can be prevented by keeping the genital area clean and dry, wearing cotton underwear, avoiding the use of cosmetics in the genital area and having safe intercourse. Drinking plenty of water will also help flush toxins from the body and control the flow of vaginal discharge. If left untreated, this condition can spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix and can trigger the pelvic inflammatory disease. In the case of post-menopausal women, excessive vaginal discharge can also be considered a symptom of cervical cancer and hence must be analysed as soon as possible. However, this condition can be easily treated at home. Avoid eating sugar, hot and spicy food and alcohol to treat discharge. Eating curd can also help treat vaginal discharge as it contains lactic acid that cools the body. Also, avoid stress and strain as this can increase the discharge. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a gynaecologist.