What is it and is it normal?
The colour and consistency of vaginal discharge vary throughout the month as part of the normal menstrual cycle. Many women get a thick, creamy white discharge prior to their period, which is considered normal unless it is lumpy or has a strong odour.
Leukorrhea is the term for this white discharge and it is made up of fluid and cells lost from your vaginal wall. It's entirely natural for it to seem somewhat yellow or off white at times as well.
Occurring around the period when your egg may be released (ovulation), stretchy and thin vaginal mucus is considered viable. Infertile cervical mucus is defined as white, thick discharge, which makes sense because this sort of mucus is most common when you're no longer fertile, which is between ovulation and the start of your period.
Thin, stretchy mucus is considered fertile, as it happens around the time when your egg may be released. White, thick discharge is considered infertile cervical mucus, which makes sense, as you most often see this type of mucus when you’re no longer fertile, which is between ovulation and the start of your period.
Discharge, regardless of colour or texture, keeps your vaginal tissues healthy and moisturised. It's regarded normal if the discharge isn't accompanied by symptoms like itching, redness or other discomforts.
What’s normally causing white discharge before periods?
White discharge before periods can be caused by a few things and usually, it’s nothing to worry about:
- Your reproductive functions - Before your period, you may have white discharge as a part of your normal menstrual cycle. You may notice egg white mucus before your discharge turns white, which is fertile and gets its name from its elastic, thin, and slippery feel, similar to that of an egg. Like the regular white discharge that you experience before your period, this discharge is also odourless.
- Maybe you’re pregnant - The discharge you experience before your period is expected to arrive might also be an indication of pregnancy. It's difficult to tell the difference between this and the discharge that comes with your monthly cycle, although the discharge associated with pregnancy is generally thicker and creamier than the discharge you experience before your period.
- Can be from hormonal birth control - Because hormone levels may be changed, using certain methods of birth control, including the birth control pill, might result in increased discharge. Unless there are any additional symptoms, the rise is typically not a cause for alarm.
Any causes that you should be worried about?
Apart from your normal bodily functions and being on birth control, there are a few causes of white discharge that can raise some concern:
- Yeast infection - Yeast infections are frequent and can develop for no apparent reason. Antibiotic usage, on the other hand, increases your chances of acquiring a yeast infection, which is most likely to arise shortly before your period. A yeast infection's discharge is thick and white, and it's commonly compared to cottage cheese. Burning and itching in the vaginal and vulval areas are common symptoms of this.
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV) - Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection that happens when the bacteria in your vaginal environment changes, and while the specific reason is unknown, it has been connected to douching, having new or numerous sexual partners, and smoking, among other things. The discharge from bacterial vaginosis has a fishy odour and is greyish white in appearance.
- Sexually transmitted infections - The most common STIs that induce discharge are trichomonas, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea and the discharge will be more yellow and pus-like if you have chlamydia or gonorrhoea. The exception is trichomonas, which is more likely to cause symptoms such as yellowish or greenish discharge that smells strongly fishy and is accompanied by itching.
When should you consider seeing a doctor?
Before your period, white discharge is perfectly normal, however, you should be aware of the following symptoms:
- Cottage cheese-like discharge or one with a foamy texture
- A vaginal scent that is strong or nasty
- Rash or blisters that may or may not be accompanied by discharge
- In and around the vaginal area, there may be pain, burning, or other discomforts
- Swelling or redness
If your symptoms don't go away after a week or so of home therapy, or if you have any additional concerns, schedule an appointment with your doctor. You should also consult a doctor if you've never had or been treated for a yeast infection previously and they can examine your symptoms and assist you in developing an effective treatment plan.