Is white discharge normal in females?
Do you experience white vaginal discharge and are you wondering whether it is normal?
Vaginal discharges are medically known as ‘leucorrhoea’. There are basically two types of discharges – healthy vaginal discharge and unhealthy vaginal discharge.
Healthy Vaginal Discharge
The body, ideally, discharges clear and odourless vaginal discharge from the body which is essential for maintaining good genital health. They are helpful in expelling injurious microorganisms and other bacteria from the body.
Unhealthy Vaginal Discharge
The discharges become unhealthy and a matter of concern when they get infected and when infection occurs, thick and foul smelling discharge starts known as leucorrhoea. This alterations in the vaginal discharge needs medical aid, to prevent onset of infections.
Leucorrhoea is characterized by thick, yellowish or whitish discharge from vagina
Leucorrhoea is also known as whites or white discharge. Vaginal discharges are not abnormal, but when there is an alteration in the discharge then, it becomes a matter of concern. At times leucorrhoea can become troublesome and may restrict the daily activity of the female.
The amount of leucorrhoea may increase and may disappear and reappear. Quantity of leucorrhoea may increase around puberty or during sexual arousal. Leucorrhoea is also experienced during the menstrual cycle. The amount of discharge varies throughout the cycle; peaks during the ovulation stage and increases during emotional stress. Leucorrhoea can continue for weeks or for about a month and may affect the reproductive organs of women. If untreated, these discharges can be very disturbing and damaging.
There are basically two types of leucorrhoea:
- Physiological Leucorrhoea – In physiological leucorrhoea, large amount of discharges from the vagina occurs. This usually occurs in teenagers due to hormonal imbalance, during ovulation and occasionally when the period begins. In adults, this condition occurs during the early days of pregnancy and during sexual arousal. Physiological leucorrhoea also occurs due to physical factors such as nervousness and excitement. Generally, there is no need of any treatment required in this type of leucorrhoea.
- Pathological or Inflammatory Leucorrhoea – This condition is caused due to a disease or malfunction in the female reproductive tract. It may also occur due to inadequate nutrition and general bad health. The discharges may be slimy, blood tinged and foul smelling. Discharges may continue for several weeks or months. This condition may be seen in females suffering with vaginitis or cervicitis. If this condition is untreated then, it can lead to infertility or removal of uterus.
There are several causes responsible for production of leucorrhoea. Some of them are as follows:
- Hormonal imbalance.
- Poor hygiene.
- Infections or irritation of membranes lining the genitals by bacteria or fungus.
- Inadequate nutrients.
- Cervical injury during pregnancy.
- Urinary tract infection.
- Unprotected sexual contact.
- Sexually transmitted diseases.
- Menstrual alterations such as onset of puberty, changes during pregnancy or menopause.
- Irritation caused by contraceptives.
- Diabetes or anaemia.
- Stress & anxiety.
- Pelvic inflammatory diseases.
Intensity of symptoms of leucorrhoea may differ from woman to woman. The chief symptom observed in females suffering with leucorrhoea is vaginal discharge. Discharge is thick, watery, sticky, yellowish, whitish or blood tinged with foul odour. Few other symptoms that accompany this discharge are:
- Pain in lower abdomen or legs.
- Increased frequency to urinate.
- Intense itching in the genitals.
- Pain during intercourse.
Leucorrhoea generally can be diagnosed symptomatically. There is no requirement of special tests to diagnose leucorrhoea though; investigations can be recommended to find out the causative factor of leucorrhoea. Vaginal swab shall help in diagnosing the exact infection.
Treatment of leucorrhoea can take place by:
- Treating the causative factor.
- Cold water baths to relieve congestion in the pelvic region.
- Regular exercise helps in enhancing blood circulation and eliminates the toxins from the body.
- Restrict use of excessive coffee, tea, alcohol, tinned foods or spicy foods.
- Consume a well balance nutritious diet.
- Maintain personal hygiene.
Some of the steps to prevent leucorrhoea are:
- Maintain body hygiene.
- Consume a healthy and nutritious diet.
- Avoid spicy food.
- Perform regular exercises.
- Consume adequate intake of water.
- Manage stress.
- Practice healthy sleeping habits.
- Abstain from sexual activities when infection is present.