Most women will notice vaginal discharge throughout their lives and this is completely normal. It typically begins around a year before puberty and ends after menopause. The amount of discharge not only varies from person to person but also based on the stage of life. Most women notice that they have lots of discharge right before their menstrual cycle, which is typically creamy white or clear discharge. It won’t smell unpleasant but can be musky. In this case, women tend to look for an explanation for their creamy white discharge and often wonder whether it indicates an issue or not.
What Does Creamy White Discharge Mean?
Among the reasons why women visit the gynecologist, one of the most frequent concerns is a change in the color of discharges, such as having creamy white discharge. Now let’s find out whether these discharges are normal and why it happens.
Hormones play a key role in initiating healthy discharge from the vagina. When you ovulate, your body’s progesterone levels are high, leading to a continuous or heavy discharge. This is completely normal and indicates that your body is healthy and functioning correctly. This is the same reason why some women notice clear discharge a few days before their period.
2. Sexual Activity
During sexual activity, the vaginal secretion or discharge is a natural lubricant that allows for gentle and smooth intercourse. The same hormones that play a role in arousal will also cause this vaginal secretion to begin. Compared to normal daily secretions, it is possible for you to notice significantly more discharge when sexually aroused.
In some cases, pregnant women will have a clear and milky vaginal discharge with a mild musky smell. This is due to hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and this creamy white discharge works to prevent urinary infections. The secretions ensure your body has a healthy environment where good bacteria thrive. Sometimes this kind of secretions will increase before labor in order to lubricate the birth canal. Unless you have spotting or drops of blood, you should not worry about vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
In the modern day, it is very likely that stress will affect women in numerous ways. Stress can lead to hormonal imbalances, which in turn can cause excessive creamy white discharge. Discharge caused by stress will not harm you, but you should still take steps to reduce stress and improve your overall health.
Candidiasis is a common fungal infection that may occur if your immune system is compromised in some way or if you take antibiotics. With this infection, antimicrobials disrupt the healthy bacterial flora in your genitals and cause fungal to grow. Treatment is simple and typically involves antifungal vaginal tablets. You also need to keep your genital area clean and dry, opting for loose cotton undergarments so moisture doesn’t build up.
6. STDs and Other Infections
STDs may also cause creamy white discharge as well as other types of discharge. It is always a good idea to get regular tests for these illnesses. Infections that are not sexually transmitted may also cause creamy white discharge, like bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis.
When to Worry About Your Discharge
While creamy white discharge is completely normal and most healthy women notice it, you do have to know when it may indicate a problem. If you notice a sudden change in the discharge, then it might mean you have a vaginal infection. So it helps to be familiar with your discharge variations throughout your cycle.
There are also some warning signs that typically indicate an infection, like unexpected vaginal bleeding, sudden bad smells, changes in discharges’ consistency or color or unusually large discharge quantities. Other symptoms may include pain in the stomach or pelvis or genital itching. If at any point you are unsure about if your discharge is normal, you should visit your doctor.
Other Kinds of Discharge You Should Worry
Except creamy white discharge, here are five other kinds of discharge that you may come across in your life. Knowing them helps you to understand your own conditions better.
1. Intense Itchiness with White or Watery Discharge
Thin, watery discharge or thick, white discharge may indicate a thrush. This is a common fungal infection that causes soreness and itchiness. The discharge may smell slightly like yeast. Most women experience thrushes at some point and it can be treated with over the counter antifungal medicines.
2. Fishy-Smelling Discharge that Is Gray or White
Bacterial vaginosis may cause gray discharge or discharge that smells strongly like fish after intercourse. This is a bacterial imbalance in the vagina but irritation or itching is uncommon. Besides, it is common, not sexually transmitted and can be treated easily with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
3. Frothy, Yellow or Green Discharge
Frothy, yellow or green discharge may be caused by trichomoniasis, a common STI which is caused by tiny parasites. It is possible to have a large quantity of discharge or notice an unpleasant, fishy smell. You may also notice pain during urination or itching, swelling or soreness by your vagina. This condition is treated with a prescribed antibiotic-metronidazole. Trichomoniasis can co-exist with other STIs, so if you have this, you should go to see a doctor and run some tests.
4. Bleeding or Pain with Abnormal Discharge
If there is abnormal vaginal discharge as well as pain during urination, pain in the pelvis or bleeding after sex or between periods, you should visit your doctor right away. This may indicate gonorrhea or chlamydia, both of which are treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, they may spread upwards, causing pelvic inflammatory disease. Gonorrhea may cause green discharge.
5. Blisters by the Genitals and Abnormal Discharge
If you have genital blisters as well as abnormal discharge, this may indicate genital herpes. With this condition, you may notice painful, red sores or blisters around the genitals. In this case, you should visit your doctor right away. Symptoms may frequently return in the future, but this virus can be prevented from multiplying with antiviral tablets.