Milky white discharge: What is it, and does it need treatment?
Vaginal discharge is an essential part of your menstrual cycle that can reveal a great deal about your reproductive health. The quantity, appearance, and texture of the discharge can vary throughout your menstrual cycle. Almost all type of vaginal discharge is considered as a good sign that your reproductive system is working as it should. A vaginal discharge that is milky white discharge before your period can indicate a healthy reproductive system, especially the vagina. white creamy discharge can also mean that you are in your early stages of pregnancy.
In this blog, we will discuss in detail the white discharge that you might experience before your period. We will talk about what it is, what causes white discharge, and most importantly, what white discharge means.
What is milky white discharge?
A runny vaginal discharge that is milky in appearance can be observed during the initial phases of your menstrual cycle. In most cases, the appearance of such a discharge is indicative of the fact that your body is gearing toward ovulation this type of discharge is referred to as egg white discharge or EWCM.
Many women also experience a thick white discharge during the early stages of pregnancy. The change in the consistency of the discharge in the initial phases of the pregnancy results from the changes in the levels of hormones.
If the discharge is thinner in consistency and is almost odourless, it indicates that your vagina is healthy. However, if the discharge is greyish, clumpy, and has a fishy odour, it can mean a vaginal infection.
Is white discharge normal?
The white creamy discharge that many women experience through much of their menstrual cycle is called Leukorrhea. It is perfectly normal to observe this type of discharge during your menstrual cycle. Moreover, the volume of this discharge increases during early pregnancy.
One of the most important functions of vaginal discharge is keeping the vagina healthy and allowing the sperm to travel to the cervix. The type, quality, and colour of the discharge are controlled by the levels of different hormones in your body.
Milky white vs. Egg-white discharge
You might experience a thin milky white discharge (Leukorrhea) during the early part of your menstrual cycle before you ovulate. As the ovulation date nears, the consistency of the discharge changes, and it becomes clear, stretchy, and thick. Close to the ovulation, it appears to have a consistency resembling uncooked egg-white. That said, every woman has a different cycle, and your discharge might not follow exactly this pattern.
The egg white discharge is quite different from the white creamy discharge, both in terms of colour and consistency. While the egg white discharge is clear and has a stretchy, thick texture, the milky white discharge is, well, milky white and not that thick.
However, you should keep one thing in mind. The colour and the consistency of the vaginal discharge alone is not an indicator of your fertility window. Relying solely on the colour or texture of the discharge might not be a smart move, egg white discharge may not always be present during your menstrual cycle
If you are TTC, using an ovulation predictor kit from Fertility2Family can be a convenient, cheap, and more reliable way to determine your fertility window.
What causes milky white discharge?
Although most of the milky white discharge is perfectly normal, some instances in which it can indicate a health problem. Here are some of the reasons you might observe milky white discharge-
For the most part, the appearance of a milky white discharge, especially during the early part of your menstrual cycle, is nothing but normal. The discharge, called Leukorrhea, can be white or even off-white. That said, it might change slightly in terms of both colour and consistency throughout the cycle.
You can keep track of your vaginal discharge and the presence of egg white discharge can help you determine your fertility window. However, this is not a perfect method and can result in errors in the prediction. If you want to use this method to prevent pregnancy, called the fertility awareness method, understand that you might make a mistake in calculating your fertility window if you rely on this method alone.
The initial Leukorrhea is usually thinner, and the consistency increases as you move closer to your ovulation date.
Yeast infection is quite a common vaginal infection amongst women of all ages. Up to 75 out of 100 women have a vaginal yeast infection at least once in their life. It is indicated by the presence of a clumpy, thick white discharge, having almost the consistency of cottage cheese.
The infection results from an overgrowth of a type of yeast found commonly in your reproductive tract called candida. The overgrowth can happen due to unhygienic vaginal conditions or when the moisture content of the area is too high, for instance, if you stay in a wet bathing suit for a long time. Yeast infections can also occur if you have a compromised immune system due to an associated condition such as diabetes. Such infections are also quite common during pregnancy as the hormones in your body constantly change during this time.
Fortunately, it is quite easy to treat yeast infections and clear up the thick white discharge. The treatment involves applying an anti-fungal cream that you can purchase over-the-counter from any drug store. If you visit your doctor to get the infection looked at, he/she might even prescribe you oral anti-fungal medication as well. One of the most commonly prescribed drugs to treat vaginal candida infection is called Fluconazole.
The volume of the milky-white discharge can increase during the early phase of pregnancy. So, if you are experiencing a higher volume of Leukorrhea, especially after a few days of your ovulation date, you might be pregnant.
The vaginal discharge is responsible for keeping the bad microbes away from your vagina during the early stages of pregnancy. So, it is natural that when you can’t afford to have an infection during this time, the volume of the discharge would be increased, and that’s what happens.
If, however, you experience a white discharge that is clumpy or foul-smelling, contact your OBGYN immediately.
Sexually transmitted infections
Each woman is different, and so is their vaginal discharge; some women might have clearer Leukorrhea during most of their menstrual cycle. However, if you observe any changes in the discharge that don’t appear to be ‘normal,’ it might be your body trying to tell you that you have got an infection.
Unfortunately, the STIs in women don’t exhibit many symptoms, unlike in men. For instance, the vaginal discharge in Gonorrhea can appear cloudy and white creamy discharge, closely resembling normal Leukorrhea. The situation with yet another sexually transmitted infection called Chlamydia is stranger. Almost 80% of women with chlamydia infection are completely asymptomatic, they don’t have any symptoms at all, and the Leukorrhea appears normal.
It is important for your sexual health that you stay protected from sexually transmitted infections. Ensure that you use barrier methods such as condoms and dental dams to prevent STIs if you engage in intercourse with someone new.
How to treat milky white discharge?
Although the milky white discharge in most cases is perfectly normal, you must consult your doctor promptly if it is due to an infection or other causes. There are a few ways to control and eliminate the abnormal white discharge-
Medication is the only way to treat a milky white discharge caused by an infection.
For yeast infection, anti-fungal creams or suppositories can be used containing a potent anti-fungal drug such as Fluconazole. However, if you want a pill, you need a prescription.
STIs are treated with prescription antibiotics such as penicillins and cephalosporins. In most cases, STIs such as Gonorrhea and Chlamydia can be treated easily, and you might feel good after a few doses of antibiotics as well. However, you must complete the course of your antibiotics as prescribed by your physician. Stopping antibiotics early is not a good thing for your health.
Vaginal hygiene goes a long way in preventing infections and unhealthy white discharge.
Normally, your vagina has an acidic pH. Using excessive hygiene products such as douches containing artificial fragrances can disturb the pH balance of the vagina. Clean your vulva with unscented, hypoallergenic soap. Avoid using scented douching products, and remember that your vagina is self-cleaning, and you don’t need special cleaning products to clean it.
Keeping the vagina dry can also help on reducing the chances of infections. Change out of wet swimsuits quickly, and don’t let the moisture remain in the area surrounding your vulva. Wearing 100% cotton underwear also helps by wicking the water away and keeping the site dry.
Last but certainly not least, use barrier methods such as condoms during intercourse with a new partner. Oral contraceptive pills don’t protect you against vaginal infections.
Including probiotics in your diet might help you if you struggle with recurrent vaginal infections. The probiotics can help you maintain the pH of the vagina and keep infections away.
Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt have many probiotics that can help you ward off vaginal infections. If you are interested in supplements, there are several probiotic supplements available in the market as well.
You don’t need any prescription to purchase probiotic supplements. Choose a probiotic supplement with at least a billion colony forming units (CFUs) of Lactobacillus acidophilus.
What does it mean for fertility and pregnancy?
A thin milky white discharge is healthy and might mean that your fertility window is approaching. It might even mean that you are in the early stage of pregnancy. It is important to understand your cycle and have the timing to determine what might be the probable cause of the discharge.
If you experience the Milky white discharge during the middle of the cycle, it might mean you will ovulate in a few days, and your fertility window is approaching.
If the thin white discharge makes its appearance before your next due period, it might be a sign of early pregnancy. If the volume is more than usual, the chances that you are pregnant are also greater. Take a Fertility2Family pregnancy test on the first day of your next expected period to confirm.
What does it mean for vaginal health?
Leukorrhea is a good thing for the health of your vagina. However, when it comes to what is normal and what is not, there’s a wide range. Normal Leukorrhea can be white, off-white, and even clear. It becomes thicker, stretchier, and clearer when you are most fertile, thinner, and less clear when you are not the most productive during your cycle.
Pay close attention to the colour, odour, and texture. Seek medical help if the discharge is frothy or has a cottage cheese-like texture. Normal Leukorrhea does not smell. If you experience a foul-smelling discharge, it might be an indication of bacterial or fungal infection. Contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of the signs mentioned above.
When to see a doctor?
If you don’t experience uncommon symptoms, you can assume that your vaginal discharge is normal. However, you might need professional help if you have observed any one of the following signs-
- If it is thin, brown, or yellow and smells
- If the discharge is yellow and has specks of blood in it with a foul smell
- If the thick white discharge has a cottage-cheese like consistency
- If you experience any burning sensation or itching in and around the vulva
- If you have pain while urinating or having intercourse
If you observe any one of the signs mentioned above, make an appointment to see your OBGYN as soon as possible. Untreated vaginal infections can lead to fertility issues in the future. That said, if you get proper medical treatment for the infections, these don’t cause any permanent damage to your body and don’t hamper your chances of getting pregnant.