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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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What does red vaginal discharge in an elderly person indicate?

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Dr. Timothy Raichle

OBGYN

Practicing since :1999

Answered : 1681 Questions

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Posted on Fri, 31 Mar 2017 in Women's Health
Question: I am 55 years old. I am menopausal. I am sexually active with one partner. I am having the following symptoms: vaginal discharge; color light pink to light red. It has an odor. There is no itching or burning. when I take probiotics, the symptoms are less (meaning the odor is gone and the discharge is almost non existant and the color is cloudy with no pink or light red color). What could be causing these symptoms.
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Answered by Dr. Timothy Raichle 34 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Menopausal changes predisposes you to alterations in the vaginal bacteria

Detailed Answer:
Your question and complaint is extremely common. Menopause is defined as no period for 12 months. It is also the point at which you have run out of ovarian follicles (the source of eggs) that produce estrogen during your reproductive years. Estrogen is important for the health of the normal bacteria in the vagina, called Lactobaccili. These are, in fact, the same bacteria that are in yogurt and common probiotics. When estrogen levels decrease, so do the preponderance of the normal bacteria that keep other bacteria in check. When this alteration occurs, you are predisposed to abnormal or unusual vaginal discharge as well as itching (in the case of yeast infections) and odor (in the case of an infection called bacterial vaginosis, or BV).

The light pink to red discoloration of the discharge could be related to microtears that occur secondary to thinning of the vaginal skin and intercourse. When BV is an issue, it can cause inflammation of the vaginal skin as well as an odor that is pronounced in the presence of semen.

It makes sense that the symptoms are less with probiotics because you are essentially replacing the normal bacteria. I would bring up the pink / light red discharge with your doctor (as this might be actual bleeding from the uterus which could be abnormal and related to pre-cancerous changes), but in the meantime, you should:

1. Continue with the probiotics on a more regular basis
2. Consider Acidophilus capsules or Florajen (available over the counter from any pharmacy)
3. Talk to your doctor about the possible vaginal bleeding and ask about vaginal estrogen capsules called Vagifem which is very safe
4. Do NOT use any over the counter douches and avoid anti-bacterial soaps

I hope that this helps!
Dr. Tim
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Yogesh D
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