Milky white vaginal discharge is an essential part of your reproductive system. The type of milky white discharge one has varies through their menstrual cycle.
In most cases, this thick white discharge is a sign of a healthy reproductive system and good vaginal health. Furthermore, a sign of a healthy vagina is having a milky white discharge just before your periods or in the early stages of pregnancy.
Each vaginal discharge has different characteristics. This includes volume, odor, color, and any accompanying symptoms.
Depending on your distinctive symptoms, each vaginal discharge could mean something different. This article will discuss which discharges are normal and which are not.
Normal Vaginal Discharge:
A normal vaginal discharge is often a milky white discharge or clear liquid. Depending on your cycle, it is completely normal if your gray discharge changes slightly in consistency and transparency.
The texture, volume, and color of your vaginal discharge may get affected due to several factors. Here are a few:
- Sexual activity
- Ovulation and Menstrual cycle
Factors That Affect Your Milky White Vaginal Discharge
Clear White Discharge Due To Exercise:
Clear and watery discharge after exercising is a normal discharge. Julie M. Levitt, M.D., clinical instructor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a 15-time marathoner, tells us, this is because we experience an increase in abdominal pressure. Working out or running does not produce more vaginal discharge; it only makes you expel more.
If you notice an increase in your white creamy discharge that continues for days or weeks after running, this might be a clue that something is wrong. An unusual vaginal discharge accompanied by itching, redness, or a fishy smell can indicate a bacterial infection, yeast infection, or pH imbalance.
Milky, Thin, And White Discharge Due To Menstrual Cycle:
A common type of white discharge is the milky and thin one during ovulation. A thin white discharge is not an issue unless there are other symptoms or a decrease in its volume.
According to the study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, the frequency of vaginal discharge varies from person to person. Some experience white creamy discharge daily, while others only receive it only a few times in a month.
Women are most likely to experience a thin, milky white discharge during their ovulation. Almost every woman has this type of vaginal discharge due to:
- The cervix producing more mucus
- Increased blood flow to the vaginal walls
- Increased estrogen levels.
White And Creamy Discharge After Sex:
There are several reasons why women experience a white and creamy discharge after sexual activity. In most cases, it is:
- Female ejaculation
- Male ejaculation if there was no condom used.
- Natural lubrication
Some women may also experience a pink and creamy discharge after sexual activity. In a few cases, this happens due to rough intercourse causing light cervical bleeding. Another reason could be having sexual activity right before, during, or after your period.
Although a creamy pink discharge can be completely normal, this can be a severe issue if there is a bloody discharge. If one experiences bloody vaginal discharge outside of their period, then they should visit their health care provider.
Some women who have crossed menopause also experience a creamy pink discharge. Our body experiences vaginal dryness due to hormones during menopause. Our tissues are more prone to injury due to dryness, thus making us more likely to experience vaginal bleeding.
Creamy White Discharge During Pregnancy:
Most pregnant women experience increased vaginal discharge. The increased volume is perfectly normal if the discharge has no foul smell and does not cause itching.
This creamy white discharge is called leukorrhea. It occurs due to rising hormone levels during pregnancy. An increase in white vaginal discharge keeps our uterus safe from bacteria that may harm the growing fetus.
Make sure to see your healthcare provider if there is an unpleasant odor or itchiness along with your white vaginal discharge. Vaginal infections are a significant cause of preterm birth and neonatal infections.
Harmful Vaginal Discharges:
Discharge Due To Vaginitis:
Vaginitis occurs due to an infection or irritation and causes inflammation of the vagina. It happens due to factors such as lubricants, douches, and ill-fitting clothes.
It is accompanied by thick green, yellow, white, or grey discharge. At times it also causes vaginal yeast infections. Other symptoms of Vaginitis includes:
- Bad vaginal odor
- Vaginal yeast infections
- A burning sensation or itching in the vagina
- Inflammation or redness
- Discomfort and pain during urine
- Pain during sexual activity
Bacterial Vaginosis occurs from an overgrowth of “bad” over “good” (Lactobacillus sp.) bacteria in the genital areas. It is the most common infection amongst women of 15 – 44 years.
Nobody knows the real cause of this vaginal infection. Some women also develop it after sexual activity, although the infection is not an STI or Sexually Transmitted Infection.
As per Office on Women’s Health, women who have bacterial Vaginosis notice a milky or gray-colored discharge. Some women also complain about a strong, fishy odor from the vagina, especially after sexual activity.
This infection can also cause:
- Pain or discomfort during urination
- Irritated skin around the vagina
- Painful itching or a burning sensation around the vagina.
- At times yeast infections
Trichomoniasis is a Sexually Transmitted Infection caused by a parasite. It gets transferred by having sex with someone who has the parasite.
In most cases, women with this infection do not experience any symptoms. However, some women get an itching or burning sensation in the vagina.
A telltale sign of the infection is a thin and frequent discharge in a white, yellow, or green color. Sometimes the symptoms also get accompanied by a fishy or foul odor.
Another prevalent cause of excessive discharge is a vaginal yeast infection. It occurs as a result of an overgrowth of the Candida fungus. Nearly 70% of women belonging to all age groups get a yeast infection at some point in their lives.
A common symptom of vaginal yeast infection would be intense itching in the vulva and vagina. It also causes an odorless discharge which looks similar to cottage cheese.
Yeast infections are easily treatable at home by using over-the-counter antifungal ointments and medicines.
One will notice an improvement in a few days. However, if one does not see any change and the infection lasts longer, they must visit a doctor.
How To Prevent Infections Causing Vaginal Discharge?
One can not prevent infections from happening. It is a normal part of our menstrual cycle and reproductive system. In case you have excessive discharge, wearing a panty liner or a pad can give temporary relief.
Women can take steps to keep their vagina healthy and infection-free. Here is how you can avoid vaginal infections from occurring:
- Make sure to change out of wet clothes and bathing suits as soon as possible.
- Don’t use the douche too much or avoid it entirely.
- Wash your sex toys or any other objects inserted in the vagina.
- Use a condom during intercourse if you are not in a stable relationship.
- Only wash the outside of your vagina with a mildly scented soap.
- Change your pad or tampon frequently during menstruation.
- Refraining from wearing ill or tight fitted clothes
- Always wiping front to back
- Avoid using sprays and scented products around the vagina.
Milky, thick, and white discharge is completely normal. Our vagina secretes it to prevent infections and clean itself. Depending on our menstrual cycle, each woman experiences a slightly different discharge each month.
However, we recommend that women must watch for changes in their consistency, color, volume, and odor. Anything abnormal can be a sign of a vaginal infection.