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Milky White Discharge: What’s Normal and What’s Not

Vaginal discharge is essential to your menstrual cycle and can reveal much about your reproductive health. The discharge’s quantity, appearance, and texture can vary throughout your menstrual cycle.

Almost all types of vaginal discharge are considered a good sign that your reproductive system is working as it should. A milky white discharge with no odour before your period can indicate a healthy reproductive system, especially the vagina. White creamy discharge can also mean you are in the early stages of pregnancy.

This blog will discuss the white discharge you might experience before your period. We will discuss what it is, what causes white discharge, and most importantly, what it means.

Milky White Discharge
Milky white vs. Egg-white discharge

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. This type of discharge is called egg white discharge or EWCM and, in most cases, indicates that your body is gearing up toward ovulation.

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, or has a fishy odour, it can mean a vaginal infection.

Is White Discharge Normal?

The creamy white discharge that many women experience through much of their menstrual cycle is called Leukorrhea. It is normal to observe this type of discharge during your menstrual cycle, and its volume tends to increase 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 discharge’s type, quality, and colour are controlled by the levels of different hormones in your body.

Milky White vs. Egg-White Discharge

As your ovulation date nears, the consistency of your discharge changes from thin and milky white to clear, stretchy, and thick. Close to the ovulation, it appears to have a consistency resembling uncooked egg white. Every woman has a different cycle; your discharge might not follow this pattern.

Keep in mind, however, that the colour and the consistency of your vaginal discharge alone are not indicators of your fertility window. Relying solely on the colour or texture of the discharge might not be a smart move, as egg white discharge may not always be present during your menstrual cycle.

If you are trying to conceive (TTC), using an ovulation predictor kit from Fertility2Family can be a convenient, cheap, and more reliable way to determine your fertility window.

leukorrhea and Pregnancy
Does creamy white discharge mean pregnancy?

What Does Thick Milky White Discharge Mean?

Although most of the milky white discharge is perfectly normal, in some instances, it can indicate a health problem. Here are some of the reasons you might observe milky white discharge:

Natural cycle

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 colour and consistency throughout the cycle.

If you keep track of your vaginal discharge, egg white discharge can help you determine your fertility window. However, this is not a perfect method and can result in errors. If you want to use this fertility awareness method — to prevent pregnancy, understand that it’s not foolproof and that you may make mistakes.

Yeast infection

A yeast infection is quite a common vaginal infection amongst women of all ages, and up to 75 out of 100 women will likely experience this issue 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 period.

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.

Fortunately, treating yeast infections and clearing the thick white discharge is easy. The treatment involves applying an anti-fungal cream you can purchase over the counter from any pharmacy. If you visit your doctor to get the infection looked at, they might even prescribe you oral anti-fungal medication, depending on the severity of your condition.

Pregnancy

Is milky white discharge a sign of pregnancy?

The volume of the milky-white discharge can indeed increase during the early phase of pregnancy. You might be pregnant if you are experiencing a higher volume of Leukorrhea, especially after a few days of ovulation.

Vaginal discharge is responsible for keeping the bad microbes away from your vagina during the early stages of pregnancy, so the body naturally increases its production level.

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 menstrual cycles. 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’re unwell.

Unfortunately, unlike in men, STIs in women don’t exhibit many symptoms. For instance, the vaginal discharge associated with Gonorrhea can appear cloudy, white or creamy, resembling normal Leukorrhea. Chlamydia is even more difficult to identify, as many women with this condition are completely asymptomatic.

Your sexual health needs to stay protected from sexually transmitted infections. Ensure you use barrier methods such as condoms and dental dams to prevent STIs if you have intercourse with someone new.

Egg White Discharge
What does early pregnancy discharge look like?

How to Treat Milky White Discharge

Although milky white discharge in most cases is perfectly normal, you should consult your doctor immediately if you believe it is due to an infection or other causes. There are a few ways to control and eliminate the abnormal white discharge.

Using medication

Medication is the only way to treat a milky white discharge caused by an infection.

Anti-fungal creams or suppositories can contain a potent anti-fungal drug for yeast infection. These can usually be purchased over the counter. 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 gonorrhoea and chlamydia can be treated easily, and you will likely notice a reduction in symptoms in only a few days. However, you must complete the course of your antibiotics as your doctor prescribes. Stopping antibiotics early is not a good thing for your health.

Vaginal hygiene

Practising good 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.

Keeping your vagina dry can also help reduce 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 wick water away and dry the area.

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.

Probiotic supplements

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 yoghurt have many probiotics that can help prevent vaginal infections. If you are interested in supplements, several probiotic supplements are also available in the market.

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 indicate your fertility window is approaching. It can even mean that you are in the early stage of pregnancy, particularly if the volume is more than usual. Consider using a pregnancy test to confirm!

It is important to understand your cycle’s timing to determine the probable cause of the discharge. Tools like a basal body temperature thermometer can also assist with this task.

What Does It Mean for Vaginal Health?

Leukorrhea is a good thing for the health of your vagina. However, there’s a wide range between what is normal and what is not. 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 during other times.

Pay close attention to your discharge’s 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.

doctor and pregnant woman
What is the best treatment for white discharge?

When to See a Doctor

If you don’t experience uncommon symptoms, you can assume 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
  • 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 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.

Arming yourself with as much information as possible is key to helping increase your chances of falling pregnant. With that in mind, Fertility2Family’s blog should be your go-to destination for fertility. We also stock a comprehensive range of fertility products, including pregnancy tests, ovulation tests, and fertility kits, which can help increase the affordability of your fertility journey.

Shop online today, and feel free to contact our team if you have any questions.

Sources:

Fertility2Family only uses trusted & peer-reviewed sources to ensure our articles’ information is accurate and reliable.

Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care (2023) Pregnancy, birth and baby, Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/topics/pregnancy-birth-and-baby?language=und (Accessed: 09 October 2023).

Department of Health & Human Services (2001c) Menstrual cycle, Better Health Channel Australia. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/menstrual-cycle (Accessed: 09 October 2023).

Healthdirect Australia (2020) Chlamydia, healthdirect. Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/chlamydia (Accessed: 09 October 2023).

Healthdirect Australia (2021) Vaginal discharge, healthdirect. Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/vaginal-discharge (Accessed: 09 October 2023).

Healthdirect Australia (2021) Vaginal thrush, healthdirect. Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/vaginal-thrush (Accessed: 09 October 2023).

InformedHealth.org (2019) Vaginal yeast infection (thrush): Overview. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK543220/ (Accessed: 20 October 2023).

Evans, K (2023) Your guide to cervical mucus and signs that you’re ovulating: Kin fertility Australia, Your Guide to Cervical Mucus and Signs That You’re Ovulating | Kin Fertility. Available at: https://kinfertility.com.au/blog/ovulation-discharge (Accessed: 09 October 2023).

Mei, Z. and Li, D. (2022) The role of probiotics in vaginal health, Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9366906/ (Accessed: 09 October 2023).

Tonic Health Media Limited (2018) Bacterial vaginosis, MyDr.com.au. Available at: https://mydr.com.au/womens-health/bacterial-vaginosis/ (Accessed: 09 October 2023).

Tsevat, D.G. et al. (2017) Sexually transmitted diseases and infertility, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5193130/ (Accessed: 09 October 2023).

WebMD (2022) What is vaginal douching? Pros & Cons of Douching, WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/women/vaginal-douching-helpful-or-harmful (Accessed: 10 October 2023).

World Health Organization (WHO) (2020) Antimicrobial resistance: Does stopping a course of antibiotics early lead to antibiotic resistance?, World Health Organization. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/antimicrobial-resistance-does-stopping-a-course-of-antibiotics-early-lead-to-antibiotic-resistance (Accessed: 09 October 2023).

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Evan Kurzyp
Evan is the founder of Fertility2Family and is passionate about fertility education & providing affordable products to help people in their fertility journey. Evan is a qualified enrolled nurse and has expertise in guiding & managing patients through their fertility journeys.

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