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Leucorrhea: how to differentiate normal discharge from a symptom

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Jakarta, IO – Leucorrhea, or vaginal discharge, is actually a normal functioning of the female body. It is a normal protective mechanism of the vagina against infections, i.e. by increasing the acidity (lowering the pH) of the vaginal mucous area, compared to other parts of the body. However, it may also serve as a warning symptom of cervical cancer or other abnormal conditions. 

What type of leucorrhea might signal the onset of a disease? 

“When the discharged mucus is not clear, but opaque and colored. It might range from white to yellowish to even green, and could be accompanied by itches or pain in the vagina to the lower belly area. It may also contain spatters of blood. Other than the characteristics of the mucus and the accompanying symptoms, we also need to know when it happens – for example, right after intimate relations, or in what specific conditions does it occur,” according to Prof. dr. Zubairi Djoerban, Sp.PD-KHOM, internal disease specialist specializing in hematology and oncology, practicing at Kramat 128 Hospital, Jakarta, in his Twitter post on Thursday (28/9/2023). 

“Leucorrhea and pain in the vagina and/or lower belly are warning signs of probable infections in the pelvis. To confirm, we will need to test mucous swabbed from the vagina and also check it under the microscope. There is a high probability of sexually-transmitted disease in this case. Therefore, we will also need to test and check not only the sufferer herself, but also her husband or boyfriend as her sexual partner. We also need to ask him whether they also suffer symptoms that the doctor needs to diagnose.” 

Could leucorrhea indicate the initial symptoms of cervical cancer? 

“Leucorrhea may occur in cervical cancer. However, the most common complaint accompanying leucorrhea is bleeding outside of menstruation, or right after intimate relations. Actually, if it is accompanied by bleeding, the cancer is probably already at an advanced stage. On the other hand, leucorrhea accompanied by bleeding does not always mean cancer – it might also be caused by a wound or polyp in the cervix. Even though there is no bleeding present, it is advisable for the patient to undergo a pap smear test. If the leucorrhea is caused by a fungal infection, it can be treated by fungicides, whether topical (in case of lesions on the skin), or systemic (using either oral drugs or a suppository inserted into the vagina).” 

Maintain Vaginal Hygiene 

An important effort that we must never forget to prevent pernicious leucorrhea is maintaining personal hygiene, especially around the intimate areas. Please use underwear made of sweat-absorbent materials, and change it as quickly as possible when wet. How you clean up also matters: please wipe from the front to the back using soap and water when you defecate, never the other way around. The cleanliness of water in public toilets is dubious, so try to always clean yourself with bottled mineral water and moist tissue. 

Read: Maintaining Quality, Non-Discriminatory Access For Participants

Medically, please perform IVAPap smear tests if you have recently had intimate relations, as the rate of human papilloma virus (HPV) infection continues to increase. The Government has executed free vaccination programs against the HPV that causes cervical cancer for 9-yearsolds in schools. It is administered twice, within an interval of three months. 

HPV vaccination is generally available for citizens 9-26 years old. The age limit set depends on relevant State laws and health authority rulings in the area. Even though most countries recommend HPV vaccination for citizens at a maximum age of 26, others may set different limits. Therefore, it is important to follow the recommendation of local health authorities. In Indonesia, HPV vaccination is available for female citizens 9 to 55 years old, and for male citizens 19 to 26 years old. (est)

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