Vaginal discharge is a normal cleansing mechanism of the female reproductive system. The fluids secreted by the glands of the cervix and vagina help to flush out dead cells and microbes from the vagina. Abnormal changes in the color, consistency and smell of the vaginal discharge are signs of an underlying infection or disease.
Treatment for vaginal discharge depends on the type of infection. Cloudy or yellow vaginal discharge is a sign of gonorrhea. Trichomoniasis causes yellow or greenish frothy vaginal discharge with foul odor. White, thick or cheesy like vaginal discharge usually indicates vaginal yeast infection.
Gray, white or yellow vaginal discharge with fishy odor is a symptom of bacterial vaginosis. Depending on the type of infection, abnormal vaginal discharge is treated with antibiotics or antifungal drugs.
Medications to Treat Vaginal Discharge
Abnormal vaginal discharge caused by yeast infection of the vagina is primarily treated with antifungal creams and suppositories and occasionally with oral drugs. Most of these antifungal medications are available over-the-counter.
Vaginal Antifungal Medicines
Depending on the severity of the infection and strength of the antifungal drug, you will require short or long-term treatment with vaginal creams, ointments, suppositories or tablets that are inserted into the vagina. Antifungal drugs commonly used for treatment include clotrimazole, butoconazole, terconazole and miconazole.
Uncomplicated vaginal yeast infections are treated with one to three days antifungal regimen. Complicated vaginal yeast infections require treatments of longer duration, usually for one to two weeks with azole antifungal drugs. As these medicines are applied to the vagina, they have fewer side effects than the oral antifungal drugs. Mild irritation and burning in the vagina are possible side effects of topical antifungal drugs.
Oral Antifungal Drugs
A single dose of fluconazole provides relief from abnormal vaginal discharge causes by an uncomplicated yeast infection. Two to three doses of the antifungal drug may be needed for treating complicated infections. Fluconazole should not be used during pregnancy.
Your doctor may prescribe a weekly dose of fluconazole for up to six weeks to prevent recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Single dose oral antifungal drugs rarely cause adverse side effects. Headache, nausea and abdominal pain are rare side effects of the drug.
Abnormal vaginal discharge caused by trichomoniasis is treated with oral antiprotozoal medicines. This parasitic infection is widely treated with metronidazole and sometimes with tinidazole. Metronidazole is usually taken twice or thrice a day for five to ten days or as instructed by the physician.
Diarrhea, vomiting, appetite loss, dry mouth, dark to reddish-brown urine and tingling in hands and feet are possible side effects of the drug. Tinidazole may be taken as single dose or for three to five days. Stomach upset, stomach pain, dizziness, headache and loss of appetite are possible side effects of tinidazole.
Antibiotics are either taken orally or applied topically to the vagina for treating abnormal vaginal discharge caused by bacterial vaginosis. Antibiotics commonly used for treatment include metronidazole, tinidazole and clindamycin.
Vaginal applications are not recommended during pregnancy. Although vaginal treatment has fewer side effects than oral antibiotics, they tend to increase the risk of developing vaginal yeast infection.
Abnormal vaginal discharge associated with gonorrhea is usually treated with the antibiotic drug ceftriaxone. Occasionally other antibiotic drugs such as tetracycline, cefixime and fluroquinolone antibiotics are used for treatment.