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Thick Mucus Discharge

A thick mucus discharge is one of the vaginal secretions that women become puzzled or even alarmed about. The presence of thick mucus from the female reproductive organ is quite normal as long as it does not come with a foul-smelling odor. But should this come with a very offensive odor with yellow, green or blood-tinged color, the woman should pay her doctor a visit.

Discolored and foul-smelling thick mucus discharge requires medical evaluation as this probably signifies an infection caused by bacteria or fungi, thereby requiring careful diagnosis. The doctor will then prescribe the best course of treatment after the underlying cause has been identified. The treatment is designed individually as each case is different.

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Why do women release thick mucus discharge?

Mucus or vaginal discharge is the body’s natural means of protecting the woman’s reproductive organ to keep it in a healthy condition. Produced in the cervix, uterus and vagina, it is composed of water and the water-soluble protein, albumin. Beneficial bacteria thrive in the vagina and help in keeping the organ’s healthy pH level. A lot of factors can influence the amount, color, texture and odor of mucus discharge. It is for this reason that women should familiarize their own discharges to easily detect when something is wrong.

The mucus discharge frequently changes throughout a woman’s entire menstrual cycle and thick mucus discharge can be noticed when the estrogen levels are high. It is normally white and sticky and does not smell bad.

Women are more prone to hormonal changes than men and hormones influence the characteristics of the mucus discharge. Thick and sticky mucus discharge appears throughout the woman’s reproductive years. It constantly changes during a woman’s menstrual cycle. However, thick mucus discharge particularly appears on the following situations

Thick mucus discharge during period

A woman’s discharge will appear white, sticky and thick after her menstrual flow. However, it will thin out and become slippery during ovulation to allow the sperm to get into the uterus easily. After sometime, it will begin to thicken and eventually become white at the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle, the period closer to the next menstrual flow.

Thick mucus discharge in early pregnancy

Thick and sticky mucus discharge also appears during pregnancy. In fact, it is one of the early signs of pregnancy, although other indicators of pregnancy must be present and a pregnancy test should be done to confirm the condition. Thick mucus secretion in excessively high amounts is also noticeable a few weeks prior to a woman’s due date. It is one of the marking signs of labor. The presence of thick mucus during the advanced stages of pregnancy is caused by the mucus plug being discharged into the vagina as the body prepares to go into labor.

It should be noted that normal thick mucus does not smell and appear in clear or white color. Discolored thick mucus necessitates further medical evaluation.

Why does the color change ?

Thick and sticky mucus discharge should be clear or white. Discolored mucus discharge should be a cause for concern as it indicates the presence of an infection. Depending on the type of infection, thick and sticky discharge may appear yellow, green or gray color, smells bad and the texture is similar to cottage cheese.

There is variety of reasons why thick mucus turns discolored, and some of these are:

  • Bacterial vaginosis

This is a form of infection caused by Gardnerella vaginalis bacteria. There is bacterial imbalance in the vagina which causes bacteria overgrowth. Women do not contract bacterial vaginosis through sexual intercourse, though having multiple partners increases the risk of developing it.

  • Yeast infection

Yeast infection is a result of the overgrowth of the fungus, candida. It is relatively common, affecting around 20 million American women every year.

  • Vaginitis

This is a form of bacterial infection in the vagina which occurs as a result of bacterial imbalance. It has been found that douching, wearing tight-fitting pants and fragranced soaps upset the balance of naturally-occurring bacteria that flourish within the vaginal tissues.

  • Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is caused by invasion of the Trichomonas vaginalis bacteria. It is responsible for yellowish and bubbly mucus discharge.

  • Gonorrhea and Chlamydia infection

These are the most common kinds of STDs which causes discolored mucus secretions.

Diagnosis and treatment for thick mucus discharge

Suspecting women should never delay visiting the doctor or gynecologist for accurate diagnosis. Foul-smelling and discolored thick and sticky mucus discharge must be checked. This is especially important when it is coupled with other unpleasant symptoms like pain during urination or intercourse as well as burning sensation and swelling. Identifying the underlying cause may involve conducting gynecological examination and vaginal swab analysis.

Treatment is aimed to address the root cause and this often involves taking appropriate prescription medications. Antibiotics and antifungal medications may be prescribed to treat bacterial and fungal infections, respectively. Proper hygiene and healthy diet and lifestyle have been found to help in maintaining normal thick mucus discharge.

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