What’s going on down there? 20 things that can happen to your vagina
Most women experience at least one vaginal problem during their life. In most cases, the issue is little more than a temporary irritation. However, there are more serious conditions that often require medical intervention.
The good news is that enjoying a healthy lifestyle, implementing nutritional supplement sand practising good hygiene can prevent many of the most common conditions. And as long as you’re aware of what to look for, you can prevent minor issues from becoming more serious.
Whether your vagina is itchy or you’re experiencing vaginal discharge, it’s always best to talk to your doctor for advice. But educating yourself about what to look for is also a great way of managing your own sexual health.
Here are 20 of the most common vaginal problems that women experience today. Once you identify the problem and its cause, you can start taking the most appropriate vitamins for better overall health.
A green or yellow, frothy discharge that smells bad could be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection known as trichomoniasis. This is a parasitic infection that can be very difficult to eradicate if left untreated.
You should seek advice from your doctor as soon as you notice this type of discharge. A clinician will examine it to check for signs of the parasite. A doctor may also screen you for other sexually transmitted infections.
Fortunately, treatment for this particular infection is simple and effective. A strong course of antibiotics should get rid of the parasite within just a week or two. In most cases, patients are advised not to have sex until the infection has cleared.
Yellow, cloudy vaginal discharge could be a sign of a general infection in the area. There’s also a chance changes to cervical mucus could be to blame. If an infection is to blame, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. However, discharge caused by changes to the mucus often clear up as the menstrual cycle runs its course.
There are several reasons why a vagina might become dry. In most cases, hormonal changes are to blame — either through childbirth, menopause or breastfeeding. Dryness can also result from incessant washing and spraying. This part of the body is very efficient at keeping itself relatively clean, so try not to be overzealous when it comes to cleaning.
Dryness is usually nothing to worry about. If hormonal changes are to blame, the issue can rectify itself over time. If you experience pain or discomfort during sex because of dryness, it might be a good idea to use a lubricant. If the issue persists, speak to your doctor.
Most women will experience a degree of irritation in the pelvic area from time to time. However, if things get really painful or uncomfortable, you should speak to your doctor. Some cases will be caused by relatively harmless issues such as eczema or a reaction to soap. However, burning and itchiness might be a sign of one of several different vaginal infections.
If the problem persists for several days, get things checked out by a doctor. However, switching to a non-scented soap might alleviate the symptoms.
Vaginitis is a very unpleasant condition that leads to extreme itchiness, pain, vaginal discharge and a foul smell. It’s caused by inflammation of the tissue in the area, and is often the result of a primary condition such as a yeast infection or bacterial infections. Both forms of the condition are relatively easy to treat with antibiotics or antifungal treatments.
A lot of women experience some light bleeding between periods. This usually involves small blood “spots” on underwear. This is a relatively common ailment, but it shouldn’t be ignored. While stress can be a contributing factor, spotting might be a sign of a more serious condition, such as ovarian cysts, pregnancy problems and cancer.
If you ever suspect an infection in this area, it’s important that you seek medical treatment immediately. Bacterial infections can cause permanent damage, and lead to potentially life-threatening complications.
One such complication is pelvic inflammatory disease. The symptoms of this very unpleasant ailment include tenderness in the abdomen and pelvic area, colored discharge, bad odor, pain when urinating, bleeding and lethargy.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is often caused by an underlying sexually transmitted disease. It can cause damage to the reproductive system if it’s not treated quickly, so urgent treatment is essential.
Believe it or not, lumps and bumps in the vaginal area are quite common. In most cases, they’re caused by nothing more serious than an ingrown hair or a cyst. They often subside of their own accord over time, but you should keep checking it to ensure it doesn’t grow, change color or begin to weep.
If the lump or bump doesn’t subside within a few days, you should get it checked out by your doctor. You might be prescribed a hydrocortisone cream to bring down the inflammation. However, if the lump is a result of an infection, you’ll probably need to take a course of antibiotics.
If you experience pain every time you pee, there’s a very good chance you have one of several infections. If this pain lasts for more than a day, visit your doctor for advice. You’ll probably be prescribed antibiotics if the infection is serious. You may also experience pain during sex. If so, use a lubricant until things settle down.
If a specific area of your vagina is itchy, irritated or painful all the time, you should talk to your doctor immediately. In most cases, an infection, eczema or another skin-related issue might be to blame. However, this type of localized irritation can also be a symptom of vulva cancer. Check your vulva regularly for anything that looks abnormal, and seek medical attention if it becomes painful.
Pain and discomfort deep within this area can be caused by conditions such as ovarian cysts, internal scarring, inflammatory diseases, fibroids and bowel conditions. These are all potentially serious conditions, so you should seek medical attention if the pain lasts for more than two or three days. Deep and persistent pain can also be a symptom of several types of cancer.
A condition called endometriosis may also be the cause of deep internal pain in the pelvic area. This involves the growth of womb tissue outside the womb — causing cysts and lesions. Clinicians will usually perform a physical examination to get to understand where the pain is coming from. An ultrasound scan will give your clinicians a clearer idea of the problem.
In most cases, pelvic pain combined with a fever and vaginal discharge is a sign of an infection. And if left untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease can develop. A doctor will probably prescribe a course of antibiotics. But if the infection has taken hold, surgery to remove infected tissue and drain pus might be required.
Too much mucus in the area can be a sign of a problem, but so can too little. Infections such as thrush and candida are more likely when mucus levels are low. Fungal infections can also take hold.
When acidity levels rise, your resistance to bacterial and fungal infections becomes low. This isn’t helped by certain fungal medications, which are known to affect pH levels. Taking pre/probiotics in the form of supplements can help to maintain healthy mucus and pH levels — making vaginal infections far less likely.
Discharge, pain and irritation in the pelvic area might be signs of cystitis — an inflammation of the bladder. If you experience pain when peeing and your vagina is itchy for more than 24 hours, there’s a reasonable chance that cystitis might be to blame.
One way to reduce the frequency of cystitis and other urinary tract infections is by implementing high-quality Cranberry supplements, and Pre/Probiotics to ensure that the “good” bacteria in and around the vagina are always plentiful.
A lot of women will experience a cottage cheese-like discharge at some point in their life. This is usually a sign of an infection. And if your vagina is itchy as well, it’s most likely to be a sign of thrush — a relatively common fungal or yeast infection.
You should be able to alleviate the symptoms and eradicate the infection with over-the-counter medications. These come in the form of creams and pessaries. You can also boost the levels of healthy bacteria by taking pre/probiotics regularly. This can help to fight the infection — and stop it from returning. If the symptoms persist for longer than a week, however, speak to your doctor.
One of the most common causes of a fishy discharge is bacterial vaginosis. The discharge might be white, gray or yellow, but it’s almost always watery. Vaginosis is an infection caused by an unusually high amount of abnormal bacteria. This happens when the pH level is changed by sex, medications, hormonal changes or underlying health conditions.
Bacterial vaginosis might clear up over time. To increase the chances of that happening, avoided scented soaps, shower gels and bubble baths. Taking pre/probiotics regularly can rebalance your pH levels and eradicate vaginal infections more quickly. However, if the symptoms persist, speak with your doctor.
There are several possible reasons why you’re experiencing numbness. A lot of women report numbness during menopause. If you ride a bike regularly, switch to a padded seat. Alternatively, invest in a pair of padded cycling shorts.
This area is susceptible to pimples, blisters and cysts in the same way your face is. Larger spots are usually comprised of a collection of sebum `— caused by infections or bacteria. If spots don’t go away on their own, try taking some probiotics for a few weeks. If they still persist, speak to your doctor, as you might be suffering with genital warts.
Blisters in this area are potentially dangerous. They can be caused by potentially serious vaginal infections such as herpes and syphilis. Seek immediate medical attention as soon as you notice a blister in this area.
Tampons shouldn’t cause you pain. If they do, you should speak to your doctor as quickly as possible. An infection is usually the most likely cause of tampon-related pain. However, more serious conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease and endometriosis might be to blame.
There’s also a very small chance that your pain is being caused by vaginismus. This is a rare condition that involves the tightening of the muscles around the opening. The most serious cases can result in the opening being completely closed off.
Sex shouldn’t be painful, and you shouldn’t have to put up with it as just “something you live with.” In some cases, pain is caused by inexperience, a lack of lubrication or sheer nerves. But if these reasons can be ruled out, the cause of your pain might be something more serious.
Among the many causes of pain during sexual intercourse are pelvic inflammatory disease, bacterial and fungal infections and endometriosis. If pain persists for more than a few days, speak to your doctor.
A healthy pH balance and lots of “good” bacteria should make you less susceptible to these common problems. Consider taking pre/probiotics regularly to keep yours in the best possible shape – get started today with our 5 min consultation quiz for a personalized mix of high-quality vitamins made for you (and your vagina).
Verywell Health. (2019). The Three Most Common Vaginal Problems. [online].
Shape Singapore. (2019). 15 Common Vagina Problems & What to Do About Them | Shape Singapore. [online].
Women's Health. (2019). 9 Weird Vagina Issues—Solved!. [online].
Healthline. (2019). Cystitis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments. [online].