Vaginal discharge is often a cause of worry in women, but it shouldn’t be. Different kinds of discharge, including the white creamy one, occur naturally and are perfectly normal. It’s a mechanism that safeguards the female reproductive organs and keep them functioning smoothly.
Nevertheless, if you see a white creamy discharge – what does it mean and is something wrong? In general, there is no reason to panic especially if there is no itching, or tingling, or foul odor.
On the other hand, it makes sense to describe what’s a normal discharge and take a closer look at the potential causes. In addition, the appearance and consistency may vary so read on to get a more complete picture.
What Is Vaginal Discharge?
The glands within the female reproductive system secrete fluids which are then carried away through the cervix to the vagina and out of your body. These fluids that remove bacteria and dead cells to thwart infection are commonly known as vaginal discharge.
Normal discharge can vary in color and odor. It may be watery and clear or white and creamy. The color and consistency depend on the phase of the menstrual cycle. In addition, the amount of discharge also varies due to different factors.
Women who are breastfeeding, ovulating, or sexually aroused usually have a greater amount of discharge. In addition, the smell may be a bit different during pregnancy or for hygienic reasons.
Different Kinds of White Vaginal Discharge
So, what are the variations and their causes?
Milky White Discharge
A discharge of egg white consistency occurs at the beginning of the menstrual cycle. The thinner it is, the closer the woman is to ovulation. On the other hand, the secretion can become creamier as a woman gets closer to her period.
Milky white discharge might also be an early sign of pregnancy. It’s the pregnancy-related hormonal changes that cause the discharge. It helps purge the reproductive system of germs and aids in the formation of the cervical mucus plug. What’s more, this discharge stops bacteria from spreading inside the uterus.
Thick White Discharge
Leukorrhea, or thick white discharge, can appear at different times during the menstrual cycle. Like most white discharges, it’s perfectly normal, although sometimes it is the sign of an infection. Generally, the secretion will be thinner during the days before ovulation.
The discharge usually thickens at the onset of ovulation and might become mucus-like. Consequently, some women look at it as a sign of fertility. Influenced by changes in reproductive hormones, this type of discharge maintains vaginal lubrication and moisture.
It also keeps the pH values at an optimum. And take note: the mucus discharge might increase as much as 30 times after ovulation.
Sticky White Discharge
When not ovulating, the white discharge is usually thick and sticky. It acts as a two-fold barrier that prevents sperm from reaching the uterus and defends the cervix against bacteria and germs. One medical text refers to this condition as “not sperm-friendly.”
Once again, sticky white secretion is natural. It basically washes out germs and maintains vaginal health.
Clotted White Discharge
If you notice any clots or clumps, they might be signs of a yeast infection. This often occurs as the result of a pH imbalance which allows fungi to thrive. The imbalance can happen due to excess weight, antibiotic use, the use of contraceptive pills, and more.
Candida albicans is the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infection. It can rapidly blossom and include symptoms like:
- Vaginal itchiness
- Red or swollen vulva
- Painful intercourse or urination
- Green or yellow discharge color
There’s a variety of over-the-counter medications for run-of-the-mill yeast infection. In moderate to severe cases, prescription antifungals might be required. Either way, a woman should abstain from sex during treatment.
Frequent outbreaks of yeast infection, on the other hand, would indicate it’s time to pay a visit to the doctor.
Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
It’s worth remembering that white creamy vaginal discharge is usually normal unless accompanied by irritation, itchiness, or a burning sensation. If the color is brown, yellow, or green, it is often the sign of an infection or something more serious.
Irregular periods might be one of the causes of brown discharge. However, that’s not the only cause. If such discharge appears frequently, a woman should see her gynecologist for an evaluation and get to the root of the problem.
This goes double for women in menopause since they are not supposed to experience any kind of vaginal bleeding. And brown discharge can be an early sign of cervical or uterine cancer.
Yellow vaginal discharge can indicate a bacterial infection and it is mostly considered abnormal. It can also be the sign of an STD if coupled with a strange odor.
Trichomoniasis is a protozoan parasite which causes STDs and produces green vaginal discharge. Other bacteria might also be the culprit for this kind of secretion. One way or another, a woman should seek immediate medical help.
On the bright side, antibiotics are effective against trichomoniasis.
Factors to Consider
To get the big picture of what the white creamy discharge is or isn’t, it’s important to take a few things into consideration.
First is the woman’s age since people go through hormonal changes as they grow older. Next would be the pregnancy status because white discharge is one of the common symptoms. And lastly, vaginal discharge can be influenced by medications and medical conditions like diabetes.
The Bottom Line
White creamy discharge – what does it mean? In general, it means that a woman is in perfect health and her reproductive organs work as they are supposed to. So there is no need to worry about this secretion even if the amount is greater than usual, which is often the case after ovulation.
On the other hand, you know what to do if the color is other than white and if there’s a funny odor.