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Vaginal discharge is absolutely normal. But in cases where you have an infection, the colour, smell and quantity of the discharge will vary and may even cause you some embarrassment. Here are some signs you need to watch out for.Vaginal discharge begins a year or two after puberty and ends only after menopause. It is a mixture of secretions produced by small glands in the lining of the vagina. It constitutes normal bacteria and fluids. Before you ovulate, excessive mucous is produced; so there is maximum vaginal discharge during this time period.

Spot It Right

The colour and type of discharge will help you to detect if you have an infection.

  • At the beginning and end of your menstrual cycle you are likely to see a white discharge. If this is not accompanied with a foul odour or itch,
    it is normal; else it could be a yeast infection.
  • A yellow or green discharge indicates an infection. This sort of discharge usually appears crumb-like and gives out a foul smell.
  • A brown discharge is common just after your periods. This is just your body’s way of cleaning the vagina and removing the excessive fluids.
  • A clear mucous (fertile mucous) indicates that you are ovulating.
  • If you experience spotting or a dark brown discharge at the time of your usual period and you don’t get your period in the next two days, then
    you could be suffering from some sort of vaginal infection.
Could You be Pregnant?
Spotting could also be a sign of pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body produces excessive progesterone i.e. a hormone released during pregnancy. This particular discharge consists of secretions from the cervix and vagina, old cells from the
walls of the vagina and normal bacteria.

Red Flags!

The most common  vaginal infection is vaginal yeast infection. You could also have a bacterial infection, mixed infection (yeast and bacteria) or a sexually transmitted infection. Besides vaginal discharge, you may also experience;

  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Discomfort
  • Rashes or sores
  • Foul order
A terribly foul smelling, dark yellow discharge that constitutes large amounts of puss could be indicative of cervical cancer. Immediate treatment is essential. If you think that you have a vaginal infection, consult your doctor immediately. There is nothing to be embarrassed about; the sooner you treat it, the better.Meanwhile, maintain a regular vaginal hygiene routine in order to keep yourself free of infection.

 

Courtesy: Team Indiwo with inputs from Dr. Anita Soni, Gynaecologist, Hiranandani Hospital

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The most effective way to detect breast cancer is by mammography, and a clinical breast exam can complement
mammography screening. But medical organizations don’t all agree on the recommendation for breast self-exams, which is an option starting in their 20s. Doctors should discuss the benefits and limitations of breast self-exam with
their patients.

What Is a Breast Self-Exam?

The breast self-exam is a way that you can check your breasts for changes (such as lumps or thickenings). It
includes looking at and feeling your breast. Any unusual changes should be
reported to your doctor. When breast cancer is detected in its early stages,
your chances for surviving the disease are greatly improved.

How Do I Perform a Breast Self-Exam?

If you choose to do self-breast exam, follow the steps described below.

In the mirror:

  1. Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a large mirror in a well-lit room. Look at your breasts. Don’t be alarmed if they do not look equal in size or shape. Most women’s breasts aren’t. With your arms relaxed by your sides,
    look for any changes in size, shape, or position, or any changes to the skin of
    the breasts. Look for any skin puckering, dimpling, sores, or discoloration.
    Inspect your nipples and look for any sores, peeling, or change in the
    direction of the nipples.
  2. Next, place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. Turn from side to side so you can inspect the outer part of your breasts.
  3. Then bend forward toward the mirror. Roll your shoulders and elbows forward to tighten your chest muscles. Your breasts will fall forward. Look for any changes in the shape or contour of your breasts.
  4. Now, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Again, turn from side to side to inspect your breasts’ outer portions. Remember to inspect the border underneath your breasts. You may need to lift your breasts
    with your hand to see this area.
  5. Check your nipples for discharge (fluid). Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple. Look for any discharge. Repeat on your other breast.

    In the shower:

  6. Now, it’s time to feel for changes in the breast. It is helpful to have your hands slippery with soap and water. Check for any lumps or thickening in your underarm area. Place your left hand on your hip and reach with your right
    hand to feel in the left armpit. Repeat on the other side.
  7. Check both sides for lumps or thickenings above and below your collarbone.
  8. With hands soapy, raise one arm behind your head to spread out the breast tissue. Use the flat part of your fingers from the other hand to press gently into the breast. Follow an up-and-down pattern along the breast, moving from
    bra line to collarbone. Continue the pattern until you have covered the entire
    breast. Repeat on the other side.

    Lying down:

  9. Next, lie down and place a small pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Put your right hand behind your head. Place your left hand on the upper portion of your right breast with fingers together and flat. Body lotion
    may help to make this part of the exam easier.
  10. Think of your breast as a face on a clock. Start at 12 o’clock and move toward 1 o’clock in small circular motions. Continue around the entire circle until you reach 12 o’clock again. Keep your fingers flat and in constant
    contact with your breast. When the circle is complete, move in one inch toward
    the nipple and complete another circle around the clock. Continue in this
    pattern until you’ve felt the entire breast. Make sure to feel the upper outer
    areas that extend into your armpit.
  11. Place your fingers flat and directly on top of your nipple. Feel beneath the nipple for any changes. Gently press your nipple inward. It should move easily.
  12. Repeat steps 9, 10, and 11 on your other breast.

Almost half occur in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, towards the armpit. Some physicians refer to this region as the “tail” of the breast and encourage women to examine it closely.

What Should I Do If I Find a Lump?

See your health care provider if you discover any new breast changes. Conditions that should be checked
by a doctor include:

  • An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast.
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle.
  • A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast.
  • A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.
  • A marble-like area under the skin.
  • A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed).
  • Bloody or clear fluid discharge from the nipples.
  • Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.

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