The whitish or yellowish vaginal discharge that almost all women get during the menstrual cycle is called leukorrhea. Learn about its causes, symptoms, types, diagnosis, and treatment.
Vaginal discharge is widespread and can vary in quantity and quality based on different days of the menstrual cycle. The medical name for normal vaginal discharge is leukorrhea. It can be yellow or white, but it does not cause pain, itching, irritation, or burning of the tissue around the vaginal opening. It is sometimes hard to specify the difference between normal vaginal discharge and leukorrhea caused by a yeast infection or sexually transmitted diseases.
It is mostly odorless and pale. It helps to keep the vagina free of infections by flushing out the foreign bodies. But sometimes, the discharge can be due to underlying pathology like an infection that needs medical attention. They have different symptoms and causes which will be focused on this article.
There are various causes for this condition, but the most common ones are as follows:
Sexual intercourse that is unprotected.
Poor maintenance of hygiene in intimate areas.
Any injury to the cervix or any other part of the female reproductive system during pregnancy.
Infection of the urinary tract.
Fungal or bacterial infections.
Vaginal irritation due to the insertion of contraceptive devices.
A contraceptive device used by the partner that causes irritation.
The following symptoms suggest that you might be suffering from leukorrhea:
Foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
Pain in the stomach or cramps.
Pain in the lumbar region and calves.
There are various types of this condition, and they are listed as below based on the cause:
It is a natural secretion from the vagina. This happens mostly due to a change in hormonal levels. Commonly seen scenarios include sexual excitement stage, during early-stage pregnancy, one of the signs of puberty in young girls. Also, it is noticed in newborns for a week post-birth due to maternal estrogen.
It is due to disease conditions. The discharge has a different color and smell. It turns yellow with a foul smell. It can be due to underlying infection and needs medical attention. Some of the pathological conditions are as follows:
Cervicitis - Pain in the lower back is a very common symptom of this condition. It will be accompanied by inflammation of the cervix caused due to sexually transmitted diseases or allergy to intrauterine devices used for contraception or any other contraceptive method.
Yeast infection in the vagina - It is also called candidiasis and is commonly found in diabetic women or people who are taking antibiotics and contraceptive pills. The associated factor is related to change in the vaginal pH. Also, poor hygiene can lead to this.
Trichomonas vaginitis - It is well known by the name of trichomoniasis. It is seen with yellow discharge that is frothy along with itching sensation. The causes can be attributed to sexually transmitted disease and poor hygiene. It takes a time period of 3-28 days after the infection for the symptoms to show.
Tips to Be Followed While Leukorrhea During Pregnancy Time:
Take a frequent bath and use underpants with breath-able cotton liners. Keeping dry and clean down there prevents vaginal infections from bacteria.
Wear panty liners or pads. It absorbs excess discharge and helps to feel more comfortable. It is recommended to skip the tampons as it can allow germs into your vagina.
Leave the douches at the drugstore. During pregnancy, douching is not safe, and it should be avoided. It can also collapse the natural balance of microorganisms in the vagina and drive to bacterial vaginosis.
Do not bother with wipes. The vagina has a self-cleaning ability. It could change the pH in the genital tract and increase the risk of infection if you have that "clean feeling," choose wipes that are pH-safe and free of chemicals and alcohol.
It can be diagnosed by examining the vaginal fluid for microbes and WBC count. Greater than 10 WBC under microscope aids in the diagnosis of the same.
Home Remedies: Coriander seeds are perfect for vaginal infections. The coriander seeds can be soaked in the lukewarm water and can be left as such overnight. Consuming these seeds in an empty stomach might help you to subside the symptoms.
Since it is caused due to various causes, treating the underlying cause will lead to the cure of the disease like the sexually transmitted infections. The treatment modalities include the use of antibiotics like Metronidazole, etc., depending on the causative organism. Consult the doctor or physician before taking any of these.
This condition can be prevented by following the measures.
Having a healthy diet.
Maintaining good personal hygiene.
Taking care while using contraceptives.
Suppose you notice any change in the vaginal discharge and consult your physician as soon as possible. Leukorrhea is a common condition but can be embarrassing as well as hazardous to health if left untreated. Hence, it is important to consult the doctor or physician as soon as possible when you are in doubt or notice any change in the vaginal discharge, and with the help of online medical platforms, it has become easy to consult your physician at the comfort of your home.
Most women experience pregnancy discharge, and there is nothing to be worried. It does not mean it is not sometimes worrisome or annoying. It is necessary to contact the doctor or healthcare advisor if you have the following.
Copious (large quantity).
The above changes show the sign of an infection or a further investigation is required. In some of the few cases, experiencing enhanced leukorrhea can mean that the person should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. The concerned person will typically have a routine screening in early pregnancy. If he or she ever experienced new symptoms, be sure to ask for additional testing or screening.
Abnormal vaginal discharge is also a sign of sexually transmitted diseases such as trichomoniasis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea, all of which require rapid and instant diagnosis and treatment. During pregnancy discharge, it can make a mess of your underwear, rest assured that it is most often perfectly healthy and has the noble duty of protecting you and your baby. And if it is something more, a visit to your doctor will get you the answers and treatment you need.
You can also take help from our online consultation platform.
Leukorrhea will not affect the health if it is caused due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, sexual excitement, early pregnancy, and puberty. If the vaginal discharge is yellowish and has a foul smell, it is commonly due to bacterial or viral infection (sexually transmitted infection). If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility.
Vaginal discharge during early pregnancy is thin and milky white. If you have missed your periods and have leukorrhea, you are most probably pregnancy. If the pregnancy test is negative, then consult a gynecologist to rule out other conditions that can cause these symptoms.
Leukorrhea does not affect periods, but it is a normal physiological process. Most women have white vaginal discharge before they get periods. This discharge is a normal part of the menstrual cycle and it contains fluid and cells that are shed from the vagina. This phase of the menstrual cycle is called the luteal phase, where the hormone progesterone is at its peak.
Leukorrhea is not something to worry about unless it is white, thin, and somewhat odorless. If the discharge has a foul smell or is accompanied by pelvic pain or other symptoms, consult a doctor immediately, as these are signs of infection.
This type of vaginal discharge can be a normal physiological process, or it can be caused by infections like trichomonal vaginitis, candidiasis, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Leukorrhea normally does not cause weakness. Abnormal vaginal discharge accompanied by weakness and other symptoms can be due to urinary tract infection, pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, or sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Yes, yeast infections like candidiasis can also result in leukorrhea. Yeast infection can result in thick, whitish, and foul-smelling vaginal discharge, vaginal pain or irritation, and itching.
If the discharge is thick, sticky, yellow or greenish, foul-smelling, and in excess, it is best to get it checked. If it is due to an underlying infection, then your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
Last reviewed at:
17 Aug 2020 - 4 min read
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