What is white discharge? Explanations and advice

Written by Marion Goilav

Relecture professionnelle

Called leucorrhoea, white discharge is perfectly normal. However, this phenomenon tends to surprise and even worry. Their consistency changes according to the time of the cycle, but, as you'll see, it's very easy to recognize them and understand what each white discharge corresponds to. White discharge, or leucorrhoea, is normal for women throughout the menstrual cycle. During ovulation, they may be more abundant. Changes in color or odor sometimes signal a vaginal infection or bacterial vaginosis, requiring medical consultation. Maintaining proper intimate hygiene with cotton panties can prevent these infections. Hormonal fluctuations also influence white discharge. In any case, consulting a doctor in the event of abnormal symptoms is crucial for appropriate treatment: thick, foul-smelling leucorrhoea, for example, may indicate vaginitis. These discharges protect the vagina from bacteria, maintaining its pH balance for optimal vaginal health. Let's find out more!

What is white discharge?

White discharge appears at the same time as the first menstrual period, and lasts until the menopause. This vaginal discharge is largely composed of cervical mucus. It is secreted to keep the vagina perfectly moist, but also to protect it. White discharge rebalances the vaginal pH, reducing the risk of mycosis. A real germ barrier and antibacterial, it prevents infections. Cervical mucus, secreted by the cervix and variable according to the cycle, plays an additional role in fertility. To help them do their job, it's important to practise gentle intimate hygiene, using pH-neutral soap in particular. Vaginal douching, which causes an imbalance in the flora, should also be avoided.

Why do all women experience white discharge?

Throughout their lives, all women experience traces of white discharge. Their secretion is an innate function of our organism, a sign that the body is functioning perfectly.

Infographie sur les pertes blanches (différentes couleurs)

What does white discharge look like?

The appearance and texture of each white discharge can tell you a lot about the time of the cycle you're going through. We talk about white discharge, but it can be translucent, whitish, or slightly yellow without worry.

  • At the beginning of the cycleAfter menstruation, discharge is often thin, viscous, thick and sticky (like glue), and may feel dry, but not very lubricating.
  • Then the discharge becomes less viscous and more fluid.
  • Around ovulationAround the time of ovulation, discharge is fluid, stretchable between the fingers, and it's possible to feel a very moist, even oily sensation when wiping the vulva. This is because the cervical mucus has changed to facilitate the passage of sperm.
  • And then.., once ovulation has passedOnce ovulation has passed, the sensation generally returns to one of less lubrication, with little discharge and/or more sticky discharge.

Is white discharge malodorous?

A white discharge caused by the evolution of your estrogen secretion should not be odorous. In fact, it could be a sign of vaginosis (an imbalance in vaginal flora), mycosis or a sexually transmitted trichomonas infection.

White discharge and pregnancy: is it normal?

During pregnancy, don't be surprised to discover that you have creamy white discharge, or even more abundant secretions than usual. The body puts all its energy into protecting the vagina, and this involves an increase in the production of vaginal secretions.

What other secretions should not be confused with white discharge?

here are certain abnormal secretions that are sometimes signs of an infection.

  • If discharge is very white and lumpy (like curdled milk), this is probably a mycosis. Moreover, this discharge is often accompanied by vulvar itching and/or burning.
  • Yellow-green yellow-green are sometimes signs of vaginitis (inflammation due to bacteria), trichomonas vaginalis infection or inflammation of the cervix.
  • During, at the beginning and at the end of menstruation, menstrual blood can mix with the white discharge, without this being abnormal.

Basically, what you need to remember is that if the discharge has changed in appearance, you need to consult a midwife, gynecologist or general practitioner to set up treatment.

Don't be ashamed to go and see a midwife, gynaecologist or GP for treatment. And the more you treated the sooner the discharge returns to normal.

Apart from these changes in appearance, vaginal discharge is natural. Vaginal secretions change appearance according to your cycle, so there's no need to worry. Vaginal discharge is a sign of a healthy body, but it can also be a warning sign of an infection that needs to be seen by your doctor. Keep a close eye on them.

In conclusion, vaginal secretions, also known as vaginal discharge, are a normal aspect of female genital health. These secretions, produced by the vagina and uterus, play an essential role in maintaining intimate hygiene and the balance of vaginal flora. However, changes in their color, appearance, abundance or odor can sometimes signal an underlying health problem, such as a vaginal infection or bacterial vaginosis. Vaginal infections can be caused by a variety of factors, including hormonal imbalances, sexually transmitted infections or a decrease in estrogen during menopause. Symptoms associated with these infections can include itching, burning, profuse and foul-smelling discharge, as well as pain during intercourse. In such cases, it's important to consult a doctor or healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Maintaining good intimate hygiene, wearing cotton panties and avoiding excessive douching can also help prevent vaginal infections and maintain women's genital health.

    FAQs on white discharge

    What causes white discharge?

    White discharge is caused by your body. These secretions will take on a different appearance depending on your estrogen secretions. They can therefore provide protection adapted to the needs of your vagina, depending on the moment in your cycle. They help maintain an optimal vaginal pH. Their secretion helps maintain optimal vaginal moisture and flora balance, to avoid infections.

    Is it normal to have white discharge every day?

    It's perfectly normal to have a white discharge every day. Depending on your contraception and/or the time of your cycle, it may vary. They are often more abundant around ovulation. White discharge is also very common during pregnancy.

    Is white discharge a sign of pregnancy?

    Although vaginal discharge tends to increase during pregnancy, heavier discharge is not necessarily a sign of pregnancy. However, it's not uncommon for the body to speak, so if you notice a change and there's a possibility that you're pregnant, then indeed, check this out by taking a test. But otherwise, if the abundance of your discharge changes and it's bothering you, it's advisable to discuss it with a healthcare professional.

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