Common Genital Tract Diseases

Normal Vaginal Secretion

Normal vaginal secretion is produced from the lining of vagina, cervical gland and endometrium. It has a cleansing and protective effect on the vagina. It has little or no odor, is milky white or clear and slightly sticky. The amount of secretion varies during the menstrual cycle and increases during sexual excitement.

Vaginal Infection

Vaginal infection is a common gynaecological problem which can affect women of all ages. It is often due to candida and trichomonas, but can be caused by other bacteria as well. Menopausal women are more susceptible to vaginal infection because of lack of oestrogen.

Symptoms of vaginal infection include:

  • Increase in the amount of discharge
  • The discharge turns yellow or green, foul-smelling or bloodstained
  • Itching, pain or redness around the vulva
  • Pain during urination


Candidiasis, also known as moniliasis, is caused by a yeast organism which normally lives harmless in the vagina. When the body is healthy, the yeast is kept under control and causes no discomfort.

When there are changes in the body or vaginal environment, candida will multiply and cause vaginal infection. These changes include pregnancy, diabetes, taking high dose oral contraceptive pills, antibiotic use, chronic illness, or wearing tight-fitting clothing or synthetic underwear.

Symptoms of candidiasis include itching, pain or redness around the genital area, thick white vaginal discharge and painful intercourse.

Early diagnosis and treatment should be sought if the above symptoms occur. The route of treatment may be by oral tablets or vaginal suppositories prescribed by the doctor.


Trichomoniasis is caused by a single-cell parasite and is mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse. Incubation period takes from 4 to 20 days.

About half of the infected women have no symptoms. Some have vaginitis with vaginal itchiness, increased smelly yellowish green vaginal discharge, and a burning sensation during urination and sexual intercourse.

Besides prompt treatment, infected persons should be tested for other sexually transmissible diseases. Their sexual partners should also be tested and treated to avoid repeated cross-infection.

Cervical Polyp

Polyps are small red lesions attached to the cervix. They are usually benign with no known cause. They will NOT cause cancer and have no connection with endometrial cancer. Cervical polyps are mostly detected during routine gynacecological examination. They are usually asymptomatic and cause no discomfort. Occasionally irregular vaginal bleeding or bleeding after sexual intercourse may occur. Polyps are easily removed by doctor at an outpatient clinic. They may recur after removal, and therefore regular gynaecological check-up is recommended.

Cervical Erosion

“Cervical erosion” is a common misnomer describing the appearance of the cervix as it changes from pink and smooth to red and rough. It is commonly seen in women who are sexually active, taking oral contraceptive pills, pregnant or after natural childbirth. It is a physiological condition which will NOT cause cervical cancer and has no connection with other gynaecological diseases. Since it is benign in nature and does not require treatment, women with such condition only need to have regular cervical cytology (liquid-based cytology) to ensure their health, as for all healthy women.

Vaginal Hygiene

To ensure good vaginal hygiene, it is important to keep the genital area dry and ventilated by:

  • Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding synthetic material
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing that allows air to circulate
  • Avoiding prolonged wearing of damp clothing, and change soon after swimming and exercise
  • After urination or bowel movement, wiping the genital area with tissue paper from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the vagina

If signs of abnormal vaginal discharge, itching or other discomforts occur, consult a doctor promptly. These symptoms should not be ignored.

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