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Everything Your Health Teacher Didn't Tell You About Your Body

Everything Your Health Teacher Didn't Tell You About Your Body

There’s no doubt about it — health education in schools has come a long way. But despite the advances it’s made, health education still leaves out many aspects of women’s health. In fact, for many of us, health education begins with menstruation and ends with abstinence. 

Unfortunately, this type of education leaves out a lot of vital information about your reproductive health and wellness. The good news is that Rickie Guida, WHNP-BC, and our team at Alpenglow Gynecology in Littleton, Colorado, want to set the record straight. We’ve put together this informative post with the information your health teacher left out.  

Keeping your vagina clean

Keeping your vagina clean is simple and easy because they actually clean themselves. It contains healthy bacteria to keep everything in balance. In fact, putting objects or substances, like soap, in or near your vagina can upset this careful balance and cause problems. 

Understanding discharge

Discharge” describes the fluids released by the glands in your cervix and vagina, and it plays an important role in removing bacteria and waste materials to keep your vagina healthy and clean. 

Clear discharge is usually normal and a sign that your self-cleaning vagina is doing its job. Thick, white discharge is also usually normal and may appear just before or after your period. If you have thick, white discharge accompanied by itching, burning, or irritation, it could be a yeast infection. 

Light yellow discharge isn’t usually abnormal, but dark yellow discharge could be a sign of an STD (sexually transmitted disease) or bacterial infection. This is especially true if an odor accompanies the deeper yellow discharge. 

Green discharge is almost never normal and means you probably have an infection or disease and should schedule an appointment with your provider for early treatment of the underlying cause.

Brown discharge is usually normal and linked to vaginal bleeding before, during, or after your period. At other times, it could be caused by spotting linked to hormone changes or birth control. 

If you continually notice brown discharge, schedule an appointment with Rickie for an evaluation, as it can sometimes be a sign of uterine or cervical cancer, especially in menopausal women. 

Normal vs irregular periods

One thing they don’t tell you in health class is how many women experience irregular periods. In fact, about 30% of women who menstruate don’t get regular periods. But just what constitutes regular vs. irregular? 

There’s a lot of variety between “normal” periods, though most take place every 21-35 days and last between 2-7 days. The amount of bleeding also varies, with some women having only light periods and others bleeding heavily each cycle.  

The best way to understand what a “normal” period is for you is by tracking your cycle and symptoms and talking to your provider at Alpenglow Gynecology about any questions you have. That being said, there are some signs your period may be irregular, including:    

We understand that knowing if you have “heavy bleeding” can be really challenging. Schedule an appointment at Alpenglow Gynecology if you find yourself needing to change your feminine products more than once an hour or wear two types of feminine products at once, passing large clots (bigger than a quarter), or regularly bleeding through your clothes or bed sheets.

Yeast infections and other vaginal issues 

Women can experience many different types of vulvar and vaginal infections, but yeast infections are the most common. Healthy bacteria stops the overgrowth of the Candida albicans fungus, the fungus that triggers uncomfortable yeast infections. 

When there aren’t enough healthy bacteria, candidiasis (a yeast infection) results. If you have a yeast infection, you may notice a thick, cottage cheese-like discharge. Some women notice watery, gray discharge. 

Other symptoms of a yeast infection include: 

There are many other infections and diseases women can develop. As a woman, it can be difficult to know when something is wrong since it’s nearly impossible to see inside your vagina without medical assistance. 

This is why regular appointments with your Alpenglow Gynecology provider are so important. If you notice any unusual symptoms, schedule a consultation. It’s always better to get an early diagnosis and treatment to prevent complications that may affect your health and/or fertility.

To learn more about women’s health issues, schedule an appointment at Alpenglow Gynecology in Littleton, Colorado, by calling 303-797-9199. You can also book a consultation online now.

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