White discharge: all there is to know
Does your white discharge make you see all the colors? Transparent, white, yellowish, pink or with a brown tendency? Liquid, viscous, stringy, pasty or creamy: should the consistency of your white losses alert you? We are interested in white losses and the signal they send us.
White discharge: the questions you ask yourself
White losses or leucorrhoea are characterized by:
- a more or less viscous texture depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle ;
- a transparent or cream color;
- a neutral smell.
Sometimes white discharge looks or smells strange. Before calling SOS Médecin, we provide some answers to the questions we all ask ourselves, when our white discharge seems unusual to us, rightly or wrongly.
White discharge: where does it come from?
The white losses or leucorrhea, are secretions produced by the vagina and the uterus. They appear from puberty and accompany each menstrual cycle throughout a woman's life until menopause.
Composed of cervical mucus (produced by the cervix) and vaginal secretions, white losses provide:
- the good balance of the vaginal flora by allowing the mucous membranes to evacuate dead cells;
- a protective role against infections;
- a natural lubricant function.
White losses are the result of a completely natural process, revealing our good genital health. So there is nothing to worry about or be ashamed of.
Abundant white discharge: what does it mean?
When it flows into the vagina and vulva, cervical mucus is the cause of white discharge. Depending on the phases of the menstrual cycle, these secretions can vary in quantity.
At the beginning of the cycle (follicular phase), the cervical mucus is scarce. It closes the cervix and protects it from bacteria. It prevents the passage of sperm.
During the period of ovulation, the cervical mucus changes under the effect of ovarian hormones (estrogen and progesterone). Its quantity increases. Its pH, which has become alkaline, compensates for the acidity of the vagina, which makes the survival of spermatozoa possible and facilitates fertilization.
During the luteal phase (end of the menstrual cycle), the mucus becomes scarce and forms a plug that closes the cervix.
White discharge during the life of women.
White discharge is present from puberty to menopause. They accompany your daily life throughout the menstrual cycle. As we have already mentioned, these vaginal secretions can increase in volume, change color or have a more or less viscous texture depending on whether the cycle begins or ends. By observing the bottom of your panties, you will notice that your white discharge is thicker and more abundant, even darker and sometimes even yellowish just before your period. They are completely absent during menstruation.
During pregnancy, white losses can be much more abundant under the impulse of hormones produced by the body and then by the placenta. They can be transparent, but also white or even slightly yellowish. In the event of a change in color or a suspicious smell, do not hesitate to consult a gynecologist or a midwife. It could be a yeast infection or an infection.
As menopause approaches, there is no more ovulation. Sex hormones (progesterone and estrogen) are no longer secreted. The white discharge disappears, which can sometimes lead to:
- a risk of vaginal dryness;
- an imbalance in the pH of the vagina becoming more fragile in the face of bacteria and germs, therefore more susceptible to infections.
White discharge: when should you worry?
Now that white losses no longer hold any secrets for you, you are able to spot when something is wrong. First, when the white discharge is no longer so white as usual. An unusual color can be a warning sign. Without worrying too much, you can conceive of seeking medical advice in the event of:
- yellowish discharge associated with burning or itching which may suggest an infection;
- pink discharge corresponding to small amounts of blood loss during ovulation or caused by an unsuitable contraceptive pill (hormonal imbalance) or by a slight drop in hormone levels, a few days before menstruation;
- gray or greenish discharge potentially indicative of bacterial vaginosis or even gonococcal or chlamydial infections (sexually transmitted infection);
- abundant beige, yellowish or greenish foamy discharge with or without burning in the vagina or vulva which may reveal trichomoniasis (sexually transmitted infection);
- brown or brown discharge possibly corresponding to light bleeding or discharge from the vagina, cervix or uterine lining (endometrium).
White discharge: why does it scratch?
Your white discharge has the consistency of curdled milk (grainy or lumpy vaginal discharge) without smelling bad. On the other hand, they are accompanied by itching, burning and tingling, even causing pain during sexual intercourse. It's a safe bet that a little fungus called candida albicans wants to get noticed. You simply have yeast infection (candidiasis), because this naturally occurring fungus in the vagina has grown a little too much. Once again, nothing to be ashamed of: this mycosis cannot be explained by a lack of intimate hygiene. On the contrary, it can be caused by excessive hygiene (one thinks in particular of vaginal douches decried by the medical profession). Other factors may be involved such as:
- taking antibiotics;
- wearing panties that are too tight
- wearing a wet swimsuit for a little too long.
Treatment with eggs is usually sufficient. If the symptoms persist, you should consult your gynecologist.
Smelly white discharge: is it serious?
Beyond the color, the smell of white discharge can also be indicative of a malfunction. In particular, if your white losses become nauseous to the point of smelling of spoiled fish. Despite this unattractive picture, know that there is nothing serious. It is probably a vaginosis: an inflammation of the vaginal mucosa due to the proliferation of bad bacteria following an imbalance of the vaginal flora. This mild vaginal infection affects approximately one in five women. It can be associated with pain and burning in the vagina and vulva.
Good to know: vaginosis is not sexually transmitted. However, it can cause pain during intercourse.
Vaginal discharge: what treatments?
While waiting to consult your doctor or your gynecologist for a suspicion of vaginosis, infection or vaginal mycosis, prefer a neutral pH soap for your toilet and favor the wearing of a washable organic panty liner or menstrual panties reusable. As a general rule, banish douching once and for all (unbalancing the microbiota and altering the immune barrier of the vagina in favor of bad bacteria that cause various disorders such as bacterial vaginosis or sexually transmitted infections). To make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask for a sample of vaginal secretions outside the rules, in order to identify the responsible germs. On the day of the sample, it is better not to wash with soap so as not to falsify the test result. Treatment with antibiotics is usually sufficient to overcome bacterial infections. To get rid of a mycosis (candidiasis), the doctor will prescribe an antifungal treatment in the form of oral tablets or ovules, cream or gel.
White losses: hygienic protections to stay comfortable on a daily basis?
Even abundant white discharge is not a concern as long as it is odorless and displays a clear or transparent color. On the other hand, they can be uncomfortable if they wet the underwear. In this case, an external hygienic protection can come to the rescue (you should not wear internal protection outside the rules). Some of us use panty liners. But worn every day, they can lead to irritation and allergies, as they contain large amounts of chemicals and endocrine disruptors. To maintain a fresh and clean feeling throughout the day, you can favor the wearing of an organic, washable and reusable panty liner.
Better still, you can opt for a pretty period panty that will help you feel sexy in all circumstances! Super comfortable, ecological and economical, our menstrual panties are also resolutely aesthetic and put us to our advantage. Offered in fine, seamless designs, they adopt sober or colorful shades that are always feminine. The ultra-innovative materials used for their design are breathable and antibacterial. The result ? Period panties that are odorless, hygienic and minimize the risk of allergy.