Health

What causes white vaginal discharge before your periods?

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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At times, vaginal white discharge before or during the menstrual cycle is normal. But not always. Here’s what a leading gynaecologist has to say about it.

Vaginal discharge is totally normal. Some women experience it every day, while others experience it less frequently. Did you know that your vagina has the power of self-cleansing? Vaginal discharge plays an important role in keeping the vagina healthy. Yes, that’s true. 

Normal vaginal discharge is usually clear or milky and may have a subtle scent that is not unpleasant or foul smelling. It’s also important to know that vaginal discharge changes over the course of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Therefore, some women complain of experiencing white discharge before their periods. 

discharge before period
Vaginal discharge can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

HealthShots got in touch with Dr Pratima Thamke, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar, Mumbai, to understand whether this may be a cause for worry. She says the white discharge that is spotted before menstruation is known as leukorrhea. It contains fluid and cells that are shed from the vagina. The white discharge can be seen owing to various reasons.

These are the likely causes of experiencing white vaginal discharge before periods:

1. Having a normal reproductive system functioning

White discharge before the periods is common, and not at all worrisome. It is also known as egg white mucus as it appears to be thin, stretchy, and slippery in texture. This discharge is also odourless, and a majority of women notice it.

2. Bacterial vaginosis

“This is seen when the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina gets disturbed. The cause is unknown, but it’s associated with smoking, douching, and having multiple sexual partners. Discharge from bacterial vaginosis can be seen before menstruation,” says Dr Thamke.

3. Yeast infection (candidiasis)

Yeast infections are also a common occurrence, and can be seen before the period. Discharge seen due to a yeast infection is thick and white. So, this can also be a cause of the white vaginal discharge.

FAQs on the link between vaginal discharge and the menstrual cycle, addressed by Dr Thamke:

1. So, how many days after spotting the white vaginal discharge does the period come?

One may notice white discharge about 5 days before the onset of periods.

Also, read: Early menstruation is linked to increased menopausal symptoms. Here’s why

2. What kind of a vaginal discharge should one expect during the menstrual cycle?

White, cloudy, or sticky discharge can be seen throughout menstruation. However, it may vary from one woman to another. So, if you find anything wrong with the discharge, then consult the doctor on an immediate basis.

discharge before period
Vaginal discharge is normal. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Does vaginal discharge increase around the periods?

The amount can vary, as can odour and colour (which can range from clear to a milky white-ish), depending on the time left for your periods. For example, there will be more discharge when you’re ovulating, breastfeeding, or sexually aroused.

4. When is vaginal discharge a cause for concern?

If the discharge is accompanied by pain, burning, or discomfort around the vagina, rash or sores, foul vaginal odour, redness, or swelling then it can be problematic for you.

So ladies, don’t freak out over white vaginal discharge before periods, but do keep an eye for anything unusual. 

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