It would be easy for a woman to assume that, once she's completed the menopause transition, vaginal discharge would be a thing of the past. Its presence, especially in abnormal qualities or quantities, might cause a woman to become alarmed. Though vaginal discharge after menopause could be a sign of a serious issue, it's more likely that it is being caused by something less malignant. It's a good idea to learn more about postmenopausal vaginal discharge before deciding what route of action is best for you.
What Causes Vaginal Discharge After Menopause?
Decreased estrogen levels can lead to a thinner, drier, and less elastic vagina, which can subsequently cause discomfort and irritation, especially during sex. In addition, lack of vaginal lubrication can disrupt the pH level inside the vagina, making it more sensitive to bacterial and yeast infections.
These infections are commonly recognized by a watery, irritating, and foul-smelling discharge, or by a yellow discharge with a “fishy” smell. Sometimes, vaginal discharge can appear green or brown in color, indicating it's mixed with blood. This can be a sign of a more serious condition, so it's recommended to consult a doctor immediately.
Other causes of vaginal discharge
The following factors can increase the risk of infection or generate abnormal discharge:
- Poor personal hygiene
- Synthetic underwear
- Birth control patches
- Poor diet
In uncommon scenarios, vaginal discharge after menopause could be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or certain types of cancer. If vaginal discharge doesn't clear up soon or is accompanied by pain, go to your gynecologist.
Coping with Vaginal Discharge After Menopause
Because most cases of vaginal discharge are caused by decreased estrogen levels, which may lead to infections, it is possible to improve your vaginal health - as well as to prevent recurrent vaginal infections - by following these tips:
- Eat plenty of phytoestrogenic foods - such as soybeans, tofu, hummus, berries, apples, carrots, lentils, and flaxseed - to replace estrogen.
- Water-based creams containing estrogen are known to help maintain proper lubrication after menopause. Consult your doctor before using one.
- After a workout, shower as soon as you are able, because sweat under synthetic fabrics can create an environment for possible infections.
- Sex and Kegel exercises enhance blood circulation in the vaginal area and stimulate natural moisture secretion.
- Wear cotton underwear to improve air circulation around the vagina, which provides a less ideal environment for bacteria to grow than synthetic fabrics.
It is important to understand that coping with vaginal dryness is the first thing to address because it is the main cause of vaginal discharge after menopause in most cases. If vaginal discharge is affecting your day-to-day life, look for alternative treatments for vaginal dryness.