White Discharge in Women


Thick white discharge in women is relatively common. Find out why this occurs and when this calls for medical attention.

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Initially, white discharge becomes apparent during a couple of years prior to puberty. After which, women experience them throughout their childbearing stage often until a couple of years subsequent to menopause. Characteristics and consistency of white discharge in women greatly differs throughout this stage.

What is white discharge in women?

White discharges are cervical mucus which carries out various important functions in the proper functioning of a woman’s reproductive organ. This kind of vaginal discharge is non-smelly and has a milky-white or transparent color which is the body’s mechanism to protect the vagina from infections. They are secreted by the cervix and vaginal glands to eliminate old cells lining the vaginal wall, hence, keeping it clean, healthy and bacteria-free.

Reason for White Discharge in Women

• During Ovulation

White discharge is lesser at the start of your menstrual cycle, or the time when your menstrual flow has just finished. Ovulation starts anywhere between your menstrual cycles 10th and 19th day, where hormonal changes drastically occur. The rise and fall of progesterone and estrogen levels causes stretchy, slippery and egg-white consistency of white vaginal discharge. This is the ideal time to conceive because sperms can live up to three days inside the vagina.

• Before Period

White discharge prior to menstruation could have a similar consistency during ovulation and slightly sticky and fragile. When menstruation is about to begin, its quantity increases and color becomes brown. Oftentimes, the release of brown discharge prior to menstrual flow is counted as day one of menstrual flow but when they occur in between periods or a week before your period is due, implantation bleeding could have taken place.

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• During Pregnancy

White discharge during pregnancy is relatively common. In fact, they are very active during this stage characterized by mass formation of cervical mucus at the opening of the cervix to protect the baby and uterus from infections. Its consistency is similar to a lotion especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. The odor is slightly different from its usual smell just before your menstruation starts but they are not unpleasant. Their occurrence is due to the increase of estrogen levels and blood supply into your vaginal area. Their consistency and appearance will differ considerably as you reach the final weeks of your pregnancy distinguished by their bloody show which is an indication that your body is getting ready for the big day.

When to Seek Medical Help for white discharge

You must be vigilant in noticing any changes on the appearance and consistency of white discharges either before your menstrual period or during pregnancy. If you’re getting thick and white discharge prior to menstruation with a consistency like that of cottage cheese, and associated with discomforting pain, soreness, smelly and redness surrounding the vagina, you might have yeast infection. Or you may have bacterial vaginosis characterized by yellow or grayish fish-like smell discharge. This requires prompt medical intervention. Meanwhile, water white vaginal discharge before the 37th week of gestational period calls for immediate medical attention as amniotic fluid could have ruptured thus endangering the baby inside the womb.

Knowing how to distinguish normal and abnormal thick white discharge in women is vital in the overall reproductive health of women.

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