Is this discharge cause for concern?
I’m 54, and so far menopause hasn’t been so bad for me—except for the severe vaginal dryness I’ve been experiencing. It’s gotten so bad that it hurts to have sex with my husband. I mentioned it to my doctor, who suggested I try a longlasting personal moisturizer. I’ve been using it for a week and it’s working great, but now I’ve developed a white, clumpy discharge. What is this?
As long as it isn’t accompanied by itching, burning or vaginal odor, the discharge you’re describing is likely no cause for concern. In fact, it’s a sign that your moisturizer is doing its job.
An estimated 1 in 3 women experience vaginal dryness during menopause, when the body’s natural lubrication wanes. And long-lasting vaginal moisturizers, which only need to be applied every few days, are extremely effective at overcoming dryness. The problem? Many of these products contain special polymers that help them adhere to membranes in the walls of the vagina so their hydrating effects last longer. But the dryness you’ve already experienced can cause dead cells to build up in the vaginal lining, and as moisture is replenished, these cells are eliminated from the body. When this happens, those cells can mix with the polymers and clump together, producing a pale white or brown discharge.
The discharge should subside on its own as the dead cells are expelled and replaced by new ones. But if it continues for more than three weeks, or if you experience additional symptoms such as irritation or vaginal odor, I advise discontinuing the product and making an appointment with your gynecologist. She can do an exam to rule out other causes of the discharge, such as a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Fat cells produce estrogen, but when you lose weight, those fat cells shrink—and the resulting estrogen decline can worsen premenstrual cramps, mood swings and bloat. The good news is that your estrogen levels will rebalance naturally, so your PMS should ease within the next several months.
In the meantime, I advise taking 100 mg of vitamin B6 daily—a dose shown to ease breast tenderness, bloat and blue moods by more than 50 percent. And since even mild calcium deficiencies can worsen PMS, consider taking a calcium supplement that contains magnesium (which helps stabilize hormone levels) and eating several servings a day of foods rich in both minerals, like yogurt, tofu and leafy greens. But if symptoms persist or worsen, see your doctor, who can advise other treatments.