The vagina is a canal. It connects the uterus (womb) to the outside of the body. The vagina is home to many types of bacteria and other tiny organisms. These different bacteria most often stay balanced in number. This keeps the vagina healthy. If the balance changes, an infection may result.
Many types of bacteria are present in a healthy vagina. They don’t cause problems if their amounts stay balanced. Small amounts of yeast may also be present without causing problems. The most common type of bacteria in the vagina is lactobacillus. It helps keep the vagina at a low pH. A low pH keeps bad bacteria from taking over.
The vagina makes fluid. It is sent out as discharge. This keeps the vagina healthy. Normal discharge can be clear, white, or yellowish. Most women find that normal discharge varies in amount and color through the month.
The vaginal environment may get out of balance. This may result in a vaginal infection. There are a few reasons this can happen. The pH may have changed. The amount of one organism, such as yeast, may increase. Or an outside organism may get into the vagina and throw off the balance:
March 12, 2015
Grantham, Paula, RN, BSN, MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician