Vaginal discharge is fairly common among women—it tends to be caused by fluid and cells that are shed from your vagina. This natural process helps to protect the tissues of your vagina from infection and provide lubrication. The consistency of normal discharge varies depending on which phase of your menstrual cycle you are in. Often the discharge is whitish or clear and can be thin or sticky, all of which is normal. However, if the discharge is thin, grey, and starts to smell fishy you may have bacterial vaginosis. If it’s clumpy and white, or is accompanied by itching or pain, it may be a sign of a yeast infection.
Yeast infections are one of the most common vaginal infections, and are characterized by thick, white, clumpy odorless discharge resembling cottage cheese. Although a yeast infection is not dangerous and is easily treated by an OTC antifungal cream or a prescription pill (available to you from your Maven providers), it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient.
How can you avoid a yeast infection? Follow these tips from Maven Nurse Practitioner Rebecca Callahan to combat clumpy discharge.
1. Choose a healthy diet
Yeast thrive in a sugary environment, so it’s important to cut down on alcohol, sugars, and processed carbohydrates. Focus on a whole-foods, plant-based diet with a rainbow of produce and drink lots of water. If you suffer from recurrent yeast infections, you should get tested for diabetes.
2. Keep the area clean and dry
After you swim or workout and sweat, make sure you take a shower right away and change into clean, dry clothing. Don’t sit around in wet clothes. Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting pants and tights to give the area room to breathe.
3. Don’t douche or wash out your vagina with soap
Your vagina is like your eye - it cleans itself out. There is no need to wash it or “freshen it up.” When you do use something harsh like soap or a douche inside your vagina, you risk killing all of the “good” bacteria and allowing the “bad” bacteria and/or yeast to overgrow.
4. Avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics
When people get sick they immediately want a pill to make them feel better.. However, taking antibiotics can lead to a yeast infection, since it gets rid of lots of the “good” bacteria in the body. The friendly bacteria, such as lactobacillus, help keep the delicately balanced ecosystem in the vagina healthy. Studies are mixed, but if you’re going to take antibiotics, taking probiotics at the same time may help prevent yeast infections.
Still have questions? Talk to one of our nurse practitioners today - your first appointment is free!