An Introduction to Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge, especially if it’s thick and white is a very normal thing, and it happens to most people throughout their menstrual cycle, and certainly over a lifetime. It can happen to girls even before they start puberty, and last well into perimenopause and menopause.
In some cases, it’s entirely normal and caused by fluctuating hormones. It’s often a good sign that things are working as they should with your reproductive system. After all, the vagina is a self-cleaning organ and this is one way that it accomplishes this.
However, it can also be a sign or symptom of pregnancy, infection, or some other problem. It’s recommended that you check with a medical professional for anything out of the ordinary with regards to vaginal discharge.
For more details about discharge, be sure to check this out:
Milky White Discharge: Causes
There are a number of reasons why you might experience milky, white vaginal discharge.
Cause #1: Related to the Menstrual Cycle—You’re Ovulating
It’s pretty normal to have some white discharge around the time that you’re ovulating. It’s known as cervical mucus, or fertile mucus. The sticky nature of it can hold onto sperm and help it travel up towards the cervix.
It’s caused by fluctuating hormones throughout the menstrual cycle. In this case, estrogen spikes and the result is a discharge.
This is the most common reason for having some white discharge going on.
Cause #2: Related to Menstrual Cycle—Your Period is Coming
After ovulation, there’s a release of progesterone. This means that your period is coming soon, and it can result in some discharge. It’s not a problem if there is no odour and there’s no itching.
Cause #3: You’re Pregnant
In the initial stages of pregnancy, some people produce a thin, milky discharge. It can appear quite similar to the discharge you may get during ovulation, however it may be in greater volume.
This is caused by changing hormones, and it’s not a cause for concern. It’s officially called, “Leukorrhea,” and it happens because of increasing and/or varying estrogen levels. Estrogen increases blood flow to the pelvic which in turn increases discharge.
Some other early signs of pregnancy that you might notice include nausea, tiredness, tender breasts, and missing a period.
You may also notice some yellow discharge during pregnancy. Learn more about yellow discharge here.
White Vaginal Discharge as a Sign of Pregnancy
Cause #4: Natural Body Defence
In the days following your period, before ovulation, you may notice a sticky white discharge. Your body produces this to help prevent sperm, bacteria and germs from getting through the cervix when you’re not able to get pregnant.
Cause #5: Sexual Arousal and White Vaginal Discharge
When you’re sexually aroused, it’s normal for your body to produce some extra vaginal fluid. Another reason why you might have excess vaginal discharge is if you’ve had penetrative sex without a condom. If your partner ejaculated inside of you, it might be semen that’s leaking out.
Cause #6: Stress
When you’re stressed out, your body does all kinds of wacky things, including varying hormone levels. This can ultimately lead to a hormonal imbalance of some kind which can result in increased amounts of discharge.
Cause #7: You Have an Infection
If your milky white vaginal discharge has some clumps in it, it may be a sign that you have an infection such as an STI (sexually transmitted infection). Please see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. It’s the same with an odour, or when accompanied by itching or burning.
Cause #8: Change in Birth Control Methods
Vaginal discharge throughout your cycle is mostly controlled by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Hormonal birth control works by altering this, so if you start a new one, or stop using something, your hormones will be in flux.
This can mean more, or less vaginal discharge than you might be used to. Your body should get back to normal in a few cycles.
White Discharge: Does it Mean my Period is Coming?
If you have white discharge before your period, it could be just a result of a spike in progesterone during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. It’s normal, and not a cause for concern. It even has a special name: leukorrhea. Some people use this as a natural sign of fertility if they’re trying to get pregnant. It’s time to have sex!
You can learn more about white discharge before your period here:
White Discharge Before my Period
Treatment Options and Information
If you have discharge that’s mostly related to the normal menstruation cycle such as when you’re ovulating, then you don’t need treatment.
However, it may also be caused by something like a yeast infection, or bacterial vaginosis and this could be the reason you’re experiencing abnormal vaginal discharge.
What about Using Pantyliners?
Can I Use Douche or Vaginal Soaps?
If you have discharge, you may be thinking about using either douches or vaginal soaps. However, neither of these things are recommended (EVER!) because they’ll actually throw off the pH balance of your vagina and make you more susceptible to problems.
What about Tampons for Vaginal Discharge?
You may want to know if you can use them for vaginal discharge. You should never use a tampon unless you’re menstruating because of the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
In addition, many popular brands of non-organic tampons contain trace amounts of toxic chemicals in them can throw off the pH balance of your vagina and lead to different kinds of infections.
Milky White Vaginal Discharge: Get it Checked Out
If you have discharge that’s out of the ordinary or abnormal, check in with your doctor. Perhaps it’s clumpy, smells bad, or is an unusual color that isn’t white or clear. It may also be accompanied by pain, discomfort, or itching.
I have White Discharge that’s Clumpy
If you have white vaginal discharge that’s also clumpy and resembles cottage cheese, it’s likely that you have a yeast infection. This is a very common type of vaginal infection, but it should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.
Although you can treat a yeast infection with over the counter anti-fungal treatment, self-diagnosis isn’t really recommended. This is because many people this vaginal infection confused with bacterial vaginosis (BV). The clue to this one is a foul, fishy smelling discharge.
However, treating yourself for a yeast infection that’s actually BV can lead to some bad results, and vice-versa. Check in with your doctor for a proper diagnosis for just about any sort of vaginal infection.
You can learn more here: Everything you Need to Know about Yeast Infections.
Should I See a Doctor about Vaginal Discharge?
If you have milky, white discharge that’s not clumpy, and doesn’t have a bad smell, then you probably don’t need to see a doctor. It’s quite normal to have 1-2 teaspoons of it each day.
However, if your discharge is another color (green for example), or is accompanied by pain, burning, or itching, then it’s time to check in with your family doctor. It could be a symptom of something like a sexually transmitted infection.
Some other reasons to see a doctor are changes in your cycle, or bleeding (not period related).
What about White-Grey, Smelly Discharge?
If your discharge has a grey tinge to it, and smells kind of fishy, then you may have bacterial vaginosis. It’s kind of like a yeast infection, but instead of yeast taking over, bacteria has.
It’s easy to treat, but does require medicine so please check in with your doctor.
How to Prevent Issues with Vaginal Discharge
Remember that some amount of vaginal discharge is a very normal thing and nothing to worry about. However, if it’s an unusual color (not clear or white), has a bad smell, or is accompanied by itching/burning, you should see your doctor.
Here are a few tips for keeping your vagina in optimal shape, and hopefully avoiding those trips to the doctor’s office!
Avoid Deodorizers, Soaps and Similar Things
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ. This means that you should practice good hygiene, but that you don’t need to clean your vagina out with things. This includes vaginal soaps, douches, and feminine hygiene sprays.
All of these things will throw off the pH balance of your vagina and lead to an increase in infections.
Air It Out
Remember that yeast and bacteria like hot, moist environments to grow in. Avoid this for your vagina. After you exercise, take off sweaty workout clothes and take a shower.
Sleep without underwear.
During the day, wear breathable cotton underwear.
Take Regular Showers
Good hygiene is a good practice to get into for avoiding vaginal infections. Take regular showers, but avoid soap in the vaginal area. A good spray with water is enough to keep things clean down there.
Be Careful With Antibiotics
Take antibiotics sparingly if possible. They not only kill the bad bacteria, but they wipe out all the good ones in your body too. Talk with your doctor about this if you’re prone to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.
Wash Underwear Before Wearing
When you get new underwear, be sure to wash them before wearing. They contain all sorts of toxic chemicals from manufacturing that you probably don’t want to have next to your vagina. This is actually a good rule for any new clothes that you get!
Wipe from Front to Back
When you go the bathroom, be sure to wipe from front to back and not the other way around. This can help to avoid contamination from fecal matter in the area of your vagina.
One of the most common causes of some funky vaginal discharge issues are STI’s. Avoid this by using condoms with new partners. Then, only stop using them once you’re monogamous and have both gotten a fresh STI check.
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Vagina
Have your Say!
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