Thick White Vaginal Discharge: What Does It Mean?
You might have noticed a thick white discharge coming from your vagina. Over the course of the month, it might change in appearance or smell. This article will tell you what the appearance and odor of this discharge mean regarding your body.
What is this thick white discharge?
Throughout the monthly menstrual cycle, you might have noticed a white vaginal discharge that changes appearance over the course of your cycle. The amount discharged is also not always the same throughout.
As you go through the cycle, you might be preoccupied with some premenstrual syndrome symptoms like nausea before period and, therefore, might not notice the thick white discharge with odor.
This discharge is known as leukorrhea. It comprises cells and fluid from the vagina and can be clear, white or even brown depending on its contents. This color can also give you an inkling of what is happening inside your reproductive system.
What does this discharge tell you about your cycle?
At the beginning of your menstrual cycle, the discharge takes on a white or cloudy appearance and a sticky consistency. This is during the time that your egg is developing during the follicular phase of the cycle.
When the egg is ready and ovulation takes place, the discharge becomes clearer and takes on a less sticky consistency and become more watery and slippery. At this point, you are more likely to notice the discharge become the body is making a lot of it. The role here is to ease the way for the sperms up to the egg in case of intercourse.
A few days after ovulation, the discharge steadily returns to its thick and sticky consistency, almost like mucus. This lasts up to two weeks. This is during the period when progesterone has usurped estrogen as the dominant hormone in your body.
As your period comes closer, the discharge takes on a yellowish tinge. If it appears brown before you get your period, it might a sign that you're pregnant. The brown color is from the blood due to the spotting after implantation.
What causes the discharge to appear?
There are a number of scenarios that are responsible for the discharge in its various forms.
· Normal menstrual cycle
As discussed above, the discharge is a normal part of your reproductive cycle. The appearance lets you know what is happening in your body during the various stages of your menstrual cycle. If everything is normal during this time, the discharge has no odor to it.
· Sexually transmitted infections
One of the most common telltale signs that you have an infection in your vagina or farther along is a smelly discharge. The discharge is usually yellow in color due to the pus - white blood cells that died fighting the infection.
The common sexually transmitted infections and diseases that cause a discharge include chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis.
· Yeast and bacterial infection
Candida yeasts and lactobacillus bacteria coexist in perfect harmony in your vagina. However, sometimes this balance is upset and one colonizes your vagina more than the other.
In the case of yeast, you get a candida infection which can be very uncomfortable due to the itching. The discharge due to this infection is whitish gray and is clumpy in consistency akin to cottage cheese.
When other bacteria like Gardnerella replace the lactobacillus, you get bacterial vaginosis. The discharge is also whitish gray and has a fishy odor.
Be sure to visit your doctor if you notice that the appearance and odor of the discharge veer away from what the normal one should be.