Vaginal discharge is an important part of the housekeeping done by the body in the female reproductive system. The fluid is made by targeted glands within the vagina and the cervix. It carries away bacteria and dead cells. This is vital in keeping the vagina clean, and in helping to prevent infection.
Most often, the vaginal discharge you notice is normal. The amount may vary, of course, and the color and odor may, as well. Normal colors may range from a clear to a milky white discharge. The color depends on the time of the menstrual cycle you are in.
As an example, you will experience a higher amount of discharge when you are sexually aroused, ovulating or breastfeeding. The smell of the discharge may differ, based on whether you are pregnant, and on how closely you pay attention to your own personal hygiene.
As a rule, none of these changes should worry you. But if the consistency, color or smell seems very unusual, especially if you are also experiencing vaginal burning or itching, this could be a sign of an infection or another medical condition.
What Does the Milky White Discharge Mean?
As long as your discharge is odorless, and you’re not experiencing any other symptoms in the vaginal area, a milky white discharge is usually normal. The cause of it is related to various, things, including those below:
- Stress or Anxiety
Stress causes some upsetting and unusual symptoms in the body. Not many people are aware that stress can affect your genital health. Research studies have shown numerous times that high stress and anxiety levels may affect your body in many ways, and the genital area is not left untouched.
If you are experiencing more anxiety at work, school or home, this may result in a hormone imbalance in the body, and this could increase your vaginal discharge. This isn’t dangerous all by itself, but you should attempt to avoid excess anxiety and stress, to the degree that this is possible.
- Sexual Excitement
The vagina needs a good amount of discharge in preparation for sex, to lubricate itself. When you feel aroused sexually, you will experience more vaginal secretions. This is normal, and is nothing you need to concern yourself with.
You may have a milky white discharge from the vagina due to the changes in your hormones after you ovulate. At this time, your progesterone becomes elevated, which increases the discharge amount. Having a milky white discharge a few days before your period is quite normal.
If you are pregnant, it’s not uncommon to experience white or clear discharge from your vagina. This is brought on by the changes in your hormones when you’re pregnant. It helps to fight off bladder infections.
This type of discharge also keeps a positive level of good versus bad bacteria. You will notice an increase in the discharge before you go into labor. This lubricates your vaginal canal for delivery. If there isn’t blood in your discharge, it’s not a worry.
When Should You Worry About Milky White Discharge?
For the majority of the time, having a milky white vaginal discharge is normal. If the color is unusual or the odor is bad, you might want to ask your physician for an exam, as these could be signs of issues like those below:
- Copious Watery Discharge
If you have a larger than normal amount of watery vaginal discharge, this may be brought on by various things, including cancer in the fallopian tubes or menopause. Ectopic pregnancies also sometimes cause a watery discharge. If you experience a heavy, watery discharge, see your physician for an examination.
- Curdy Vaginal Discharge
This variety of discharge may be brought on by thrush, which is a candida yeast infection in the vagina. It appears like cottage cheese and usually has a slightly bad odor. You may also experience swelling and itching in your vagina.
You can prevent yeast infections by eating right and getting the vitamins you need for a healthy immune system, and also by keeping the vaginal area clean. The vaginal acidity is part of the cause of thrush, so speak to your physician if you get yeast infections frequently. You can take prescription or OTC medications that treat thrush.
- Creamy, White Discharge
This type of discharge is generally brought on by bacterial vaginosis, where bad bacteria begin to invade the mucosa of the vagina. Gardnerella vaginalis is a bacteria regularly found here, but if the quantity increases a lot, your vaginal discharge may smell like fish.
The vagina will not often become too irritated with this dysbacteriosis. Keeping a low pH level in your vagina will help in preventing vaginosis. You can use medications to treat the infection if it causes symptoms that are uncomfortable for you.
- Foamy Fluid Discharge
This secretion may be seen in various colors, including gray, green, white or yellow. There will often be a foul smell and the vagina may become inflamed. This is generally caused by a Trichomonas bacterial infection. You can catch this disease during sex.
This infection can be prevented by limiting yourself to one sexual partner, and this partner should be infection-free. You can use antibiotics to clear up this type of infection. Do not ignore it, however. Failure to treat it can lead to various complications, including sterility.
- Cloudy Discharge with Admixtures
This type of discharge is cloudy, rather than clear in color. It may be caused by worms, or a hormone problem. If you have a bloody discharge, make an appointment with your physician, and have yourself examined for cancer or other types of medical problems.
The signs that you need to see a doctor soon include bladder infection symptoms, lesions or sores on the vaginal skin and mucus, itching in the vagina or vaginal burning.
If you don’t have symptoms other than the milky white discharge, keep tabs on it yourself, to make sure it doesn’t get worse. It should be less prevalent at the beginning of your cycle, and increase near the end.
If you have a more constant discharge and it smells bad, this may indicate an infection in the vagina. Your physician can perform a PCR test to determine the cause of your discharge. If the results are positive, your doctor can help you with a course of treatment.