The vagina is a tube-like muscular structure of the female genital tract that extends from the cervix to the vulva. It is a delicate organ which is prone to injuries and infections. Complications related to urination, menstruation and sexual intercourse- all affect the vaginal health. Here are five questions associated with vaginal problems that are commonly experienced but rarely discussed:
1. Why does it feel itchy before menstruation?
The hormonal cycle reduces the amount of estrogen secreted right before the period starts. This reduces the moisture content of the inner membranes of the vagina; the skin becomes thinner and slightly dry. This can cause itching. However, if the itching and burning sensation are too severe, it could be an infection and should be checked out.
2. What is the white discharge?
The greasy white discharge is due to the ovulation cycle. It usually occurs once a month because the amount of secretion increases right before ovulation. Some women may experience this discharge more frequently but it is nothing to worry about unless there is an unpleasant odour. Odorous discharge could be a sign of bacterial infection.
3. How often should you have a vaginal examination?
You should get a vaginal examination at least once a year. This is important for a general health assessment and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. If you are using birth control medication, there might be an irregularity in the hormonal cycles and this can lead to a number of conditions- another reason to get an annual vaginal examination.
4. Does it smell differently at different times?
It usually smells differently for every woman and even that unique smell changes with the cycles of ovulation and menstruation due to changes in the pH level of the vagina. The normal vaginal pH value is between 3.8 and 4.6. Before menstruation, it may smell acidic followed by a bitter smell for a few days after menstruation. It may also smell differently after a workout (due to sweat) or after sex (due to lubrication). However, a foul smell accompanied by discharge might be a cause for concern.
5. Why does it feel dry sometimes?
Vaginal dryness is normally experienced by women after the age of 45 or after pregnancy. However, dryness is also common just before menstruation. It also happens in women who use anti-allergy medications or birth control pills because they cause dryness in all the mucous membranes of the body.