Dr. Afriye Amerson has been in private practice for fourteen years. In 2001, after completing her residency, she joined a group practice which had been in existence for over fifty years in Bergen County, New Jersey. She became a partner in the practice and built an ever-growing patient base for the next nine years. Dr. Amerson launched a solo practice in January 2010.
By 2011, Dr. Amerson coined the term “Platinum Families” to embrace and celebrate those families into which she delivered over three children. Although her eldest patient recently turned 101 years old, she serves a broad and diverse age and ethnic diaspora of women.
Dr. Amerson is an active advocate of women’s health. She has spoken at many schools, after-school programs, churches, health fairs and events on topics from women’s health, maternity, sexual education to community health improvement and self-esteem building. She was a featured speaker for the Essence Magazine’s ‘Women Changing the World Leadership Summit’ in 2008. She
has been a featured expert on many television and radio shows, including an Emmy award-winning story on postpartum depression. Dr. Amerson educates all of her patient families and is a community leader in Cord Blood banking. She was honored by the NJ State blood bank for this leadership.
What normal vaginal discharge should look and smell like:
So, to begin with the proper foundation of understanding: all openings in the human body (except the urethra & anus) produce some protective fluid or mucous. We have control over the muscles affecting urination and defecation, so that these “openings” are not actually “open” until we voluntarily relax these muscles. It is this muscular control which protects from bacteria and other things foreign to the human body.
As for all other openings – our eyes produce “sleep”, which is a fluid that dries into mucous; our nose produces mucous; our ears produce wax; our mouth produces saliva; the vagina does produce a normal discharge after menstruation beginning at puberty. Prepubertal girls have a female reproductive system which is inactive, and their vaginas are closed. In this age group, any and all discharge is concerning and should be evaluated by a health care professional. At puberty, our female reproductive system “awakens” (regardless of becoming sexually active or not) and we begin the constant production of female hormones.
These hormones change the vagina’s texture, elasticity, and moisture in preparation for sexual activity and childbearing. The production of a noticeable discharge varies amongst individual women. Therefore, the first principle of becoming a woman is know thyself. Some women have some discharge daily. Others will notice discharge only at certain times in their monthly cycle, while others may never have noticeable discharge (although it is present in the vagina & could be observed in a pelvic examination).
Normal discharge has no odor or irritation. The color is white to eggshell, and when dry it may flake (in panties or pubic hair, for example). Symptoms which can be concerning include any change from normal for an individual woman, swelling or redness of the outside vulva, itching or burning of the vulva or vagina, greenish/bubbly discharge, odor (most commonly “fish-like”), painful/overly sensitive outside vulva, and very heavy discharge.
It is important to note here that women will most commonly have no symptoms of sexually transmitted disease. Most of our symptoms of infection are related to changes in the vagina’s normal pH balance. Many things trigger these changes, including hygiene (which must change after puberty), sexual activity, dietary habit, medications, illness (such as diabetes), hormonal change and changes of metabolism.
If a woman is uncertain about whether her vaginal discharge is normal, she should schedule an appointment with her health care provider and have her personal information (about the regularity of her menses, recent sexual activity, use of products to clean her body & clothing, new or recent medications, and change in diet) written down and ready for discussion.
How to maintain good vaginal health:
Take probiotics daily or regularly (these healthy bacteria promote good health while preventing harmful bacterial growth in the vagina and digestive system). I suggest a chewable form of acidophilus. Yogurt contains probiotics as well.