Some vaginal discharge is normal throughout a person’s life. The amount of discharge may increase or decrease around menopause for various reasons.
After menopause, the body makes less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Very low levels of estrogen can have many effects throughout the body.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, the average age of menopause in the United States is 52 years old.
Menopause occurs when a person’s menstruation stops for 12 months in a row, but people may begin to notice bodily changes several years before this in a period known as perimenopause.
Many people experience changes in their vaginal discharge before and after menopause. This article looks at these changes, what they mean, and when to contact a doctor.
Around 60%Trusted Source of people experience symptoms involving the genitals or urinary system after menopause. These can include:
- vaginal atrophy, or a thinning or breakdown of vaginal tissue
- urethral atrophy, or a thinning or breakdown of urinary tract tissue
- a decreased libido, or a lower sex drive
The symptoms of vaginal atrophy include vaginal dryness, itchiness, and painful intercourse. Vaginal atrophy occurs in about 50% of people within 3 years of menopause.
Some research Trusted Source has linked low levels of an estrogen called estradiol with vaginal dryness. Decreasing estrogen levels causes a decrease in vaginal blood flow, which contributes to vaginal dryness and decreased vaginal lubrication.
Although vaginal dryness is common after menopause, some people may experience increased vaginal discharge.
In fact, in one 2018 study Trusted Source, vaginal discharge and infections were the second most common symptoms after vaginal dryness.
Vaginal atrophy can sometimes cause vaginal discharge. Discharge may also appear after local irritation, such as after sexual intercourse.
Excess estrogen during perimenopause can also lead to vaginal discharge, as can:
- vaginal infections
- skin conditions affecting the vulva, or vulvovaginal dermatoses
The vagina produces secretions to lubricate the vaginal walls. Some people experience increased discharge during perimenopause and reduced discharge after menopause.
Vaginal discharge is often normal, but some characteristics could indicate the presence of an infection or other condition. It is important to determine when discharge is healthy and when to contact a doctor.
According to some 2007 research Trusted Source, people may perceive vaginal discharge as abnormal when it is, in fact, physiological. Physiological vaginal discharge is white or clear and varies with changes in hormone levels in the body.
Knowing the difference between typical discharge and unusual discharge is important for people before, during, and after menopause.
Healthy vaginal discharge is typically white or clear. However, the amount, color, and consistency of vaginal discharge can vary widely from person to person.
Normal vaginal discharge has the following characteristics:
- clear or white
- does not stick to the walls of the vagina
- pools in the posterior fornix, which is a large recess behind the cervix
Healthy vaginal discharge also does not have a bad smell.
People who have passed menopause may develop vaginal atrophy because of the drop in estrogen levels, which causes the walls of the vagina to become thinner.
Vaginal atrophy can sometimes cause vaginal discharge, especially after something, such as sexual contact, has irritated the vagina. …. Continue Reading…….