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White discharge – Leucorrhoea

What is White discharge (Leucorrhoea)?

Leucorrhoea is a condition characterized by a white or yellowish vaginal discharge. It can be either normal or a sign of an underlying medical issue. Normal discharge is part of the body’s natural mechanism to maintain vaginal health, but when the discharge becomes excessive or changes in color, odor, or consistency, it may indicate an infection or other health conditions.

Types of Types of Leucorrhoea 

  • Physiological Leucorrhoea: Normal and occurs during different phases of the menstrual cycle. Common during puberty, ovulation, pregnancy, and sexual arousal.
  • Pathological Leucorrhoea: Abnormal discharge caused by infections or diseases. Can result from bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections.

Relation of Physiological Leucorrhoea with Menstruation

Physiological leucorrhoea is closely related to the menstrual cycle in women. It is a natural and normal occurrence that often coincides with various stages of the menstrual cycle.
During different phases of the menstrual cycle, hormonal fluctuations, particularly estrogen, can influence the production and consistency of vaginal discharge.

  • Follicular phase: In the first half of the menstrual cycle, known as the follicular phase, estrogen levels rise, stimulating the production of cervical mucus. This mucus is typically clear or slightly cloudy and aids in the transport of sperm for fertilization.
  • Ovulation: Around the time of ovulation, estrogen levels peak, resulting in increased cervical mucus production. The mucus becomes stretchy and clear, resembling egg whites, and is conducive to sperm survival and mobility, facilitating fertilization.
  • Luteal phase: After ovulation, during the luteal phase, estrogen levels decrease while progesterone levels rise. This hormonal shift can lead to a decrease in cervical mucus production, resulting in drier vaginal discharge.
  • Menstruation: Just before menstruation, cervical mucus production tends to decrease further, leading to thicker and stickier discharge. This discharge may appear white or creamy in color and is often referred to as physiological leucorrhoea.

Overall, the production of physiological leucorrhoea is hormonally regulated and serves important functions in the reproductive process, such as maintaining vaginal pH balance, providing lubrication, and protecting against infections. It is considered a normal and healthy aspect of female reproductive physiology.

Characteristic of White discharge in different infection

Different types of infections can cause variations in the characteristics of white discharge. Here are some common characteristics associated with white discharge in various infections:

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV):

  • Thin, watery discharge.
  • Grayish or greenish in color.
  • Fishy odor, especially after sex.

Yeast infection (Candidiasis):

  • Thick, clumpy discharge.
  • Cottage cheese-like consistency.
  • White in color.
  • Itching and irritation in the vaginal area.

Trichomoniasis (Trichomonas vaginalis infection):

  • Frothy or foamy discharge.
  • Yellow-green in color.
  • Foul odor.
  • Itching, burning, and redness in the genital area.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs):

  • Discharge may vary depending on the specific STI (e.g., gonorrhea, chlamydia).
  • Yellow or green discharge.
  • Foul odor.
  • Other symptoms such as pain during urination, genital sores, or rash.

Cervicitis (Inflammation of the cervix):

  • Yellow or green discharge.
  • Foul odor.
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex.

Atrophic Vaginitis (Vaginal atrophy due to hormonal changes):

  • Thin, watery discharge.
  • White or pinkish in color.
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex.

These characteristics can help differentiate between different types of infections and guide healthcare providers in diagnosing and treating the underlying cause of white discharge. It’s essential to seek medical attention if you experience abnormal discharge or other concerning symptoms to receive appropriate treatment and prevent complications.

Symptoms of White discharge

  • Increased amount of discharge.
  • Change in color (yellow, green, grey).
  • Foul or strong odor.
  • Itching or irritation in the vaginal area.
  • Pain or discomfort during urination or intercourse.
  • Occasionally, lower abdominal pain

When to see a doctor?

If you experience persistent or abnormal discharge, discharge accompanied by itching, irritation, or foul odor, or pain or discomfort in the pelvic area, it’s advisable to see a doctor. These symptoms may indicate an underlying gynecological issue that requires medical attention. Prompt evaluation by a healthcare professional can help identify the cause of your symptoms and guide appropriate treatment to alleviate any discomfort and ensure optimal gynecological health. Delaying or ignoring these symptoms may lead to complications, so seeking timely medical care is essential for your well-being.

Causes of White discharge

Infections:

  • Bacterial vaginosis.
  • Yeast infections (candidiasis).
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as trichomoniasis.

Hormonal changes:

  • Pregnancy
  • Menstrual cycle fluctuations.
  • Menopause

Medical conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Anaemia

Hygiene practices:

  • Poor genital hygiene.
  • Use of scented products or douching.

Risk factors of White discharge

  • Unprotected sexual activity.
  • Multiple sexual partners.
  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • Wearing tight or non-breathable clothing.
  • Use of antibiotics, which can disrupt the natural vaginal flora.
  • Underlying health conditions such as diabetes.

Complications of White discharge

If left untreated, pathological leucorrhoea can lead to:

  • vic inflammatory disease (PID).
  • Infertility issues.
  • Chronic pelvic pain.
  • Complications during pregnancy.
  • Increased risk of STIs.

Diagnosis of White discharge (Leucorrhoea)

Accurate diagnosis is essential to determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Patient history and symptoms

  • Duration and onset: Determine how long the discharge has been present and if it is continuous or intermittent.
  • Consistency and color: Note if the discharge is thin, thick, creamy, or watery.
  • Odor: Check if there is any unusual or foul smell.
  • Associated symptoms: Ask about itching, burning, irritation, pelvic pain, or urinary symptoms.
  • Sexual history: Enquire about sexual activity, use of contraceptives, and any history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Menstrual history: Review menstrual cycle regularity, recent changes, and any bleeding patterns.
  • Personal hygiene and products: Discuss hygiene practices and use of douches, soaps, or perfumes.

Physical examination

  • Visual inspection: Examine the external genitalia for signs of redness, swelling, lesions, or sores.
  • Speculum examination: Inspect the vaginal walls and cervix for abnormalities, discharge characteristics, and signs of infection.
  • Bimanual examination: Assess the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries for tenderness or masses.

Laboratory tests

  • Vaginal swab: Collect samples of the discharge for microscopic examination and culture.
    • Wet mount: Assess for presence of yeast cells, clue cells (indicative of bacterial vaginosis), and trichomonads.
    • Gram stain: Helps identify bacterial organisms.
  • pH test: Normal vaginal pH is between 3.8 and 4.5. Elevated pH can suggest bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis.
  • KOH test: Adding potassium hydroxide to the sample can help identify fungal infections by the characteristic odor (whiff test) and yeast cell presence.
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs): Used for detecting specific pathogens, such as Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoea.
  • Urine tests: Check for urinary tract infections or related conditions.

Treatment of White discharge (Leucorrhoea)

Here are some common treatments and recommendations for managing leucorrhoea:

1. Medical treatment

  • a. Antifungal medication:
    • If the leucorrhoea is caused by a yeast infection (candidiasis), antifungal medications such as clotrimazole, miconazole, or fluconazole are often prescribed.
  • b. Antibiotics:
    • Bacterial infections, such as bacterial vaginosis or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), may require antibiotics like metronidazole or clindamycin.
  • c. Hormonal treatment:
    • If hormonal imbalances are causing the discharge, hormonal treatments or birth control pills might be recommended by a healthcare provider.
  • 2. Home remedies and lifestyle changes

    • Maintain good hygiene.
    • Wear breathable clothing.
    • Stay hydrated.
    •  Diet and nutrition.
    • Avoid irritants.
  • 3. Natural remedies

    • Fenugreek seeds
    •  Neem
    • Aloe Vera
    •  Turmeric

4. Consult a healthcare professional

  • a. Diagnosis and monitoring:
    • If the discharge is persistent, has a foul odor, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, pain, or fever, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
  • b. Regular check-ups:
    • Regular gynecological exams can help in early detection and treatment of any underlying conditions that may cause leucorrhoea.

Why Choose Shukan Hospital & IVF Centre in Ahmedabad for White discharge (Leucorrhea) treatment?

At Shukan Hospital & IVF Centre, we offer:

  • State-of-the-art diagnostic facilities.
  • Personalized treatment plans tailored to individual needs.
  • Compassionate and supportive care throughout the treatment journey.

FAqs

Can using vaginal washes help with vaginal discharge?

No, using vaginal washes is not recommended as they can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina and may lead to infections. It is best to maintain normal vaginal hygiene by washing the external genital area with water and mild soap.

Does white discharge (leucorrhoea) cause weakness?

Yes, chronic leucorrhoea can lead to weakness and fatigue due to the body’s response to persistent infection or inflammation. It is essential to seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.

What is the difference between Leucorrhoea and normal discharge?

Normal discharge is usually clear or milky white, odorless, and varies with the menstrual cycle. Leucorrhoea, however, is characterized by excessive discharge that is often accompanied by a change in color, consistency, and smell, as well as symptoms like itching or irritation.

Can birth control pills affect vaginal discharge?

Yes, birth control pills can affect vaginal discharge. Hormonal contraceptives can cause changes in the amount and consistency of vaginal discharge due to their impact on hormone levels. If you have concerns about your discharge while on birth control, consult your healthcare provider.

Is it possible for vaginal discharge to be a sign of cervical cancer?

While vaginal discharge is usually not a sign of cervical cancer, abnormal discharge can sometimes indicate more serious conditions, including cervical cancer. If the discharge is persistent, unusual in color (especially blood-tinged), or has a strong odor, it is important to seek medical evaluation. 

How can I differentiate between a yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis?

Yeast infections typically cause thick, white, cottage cheese-like discharge accompanied by intense itching and irritation. Bacterial vaginosis usually results in thin, greyish discharge with a strong fishy odor. Both conditions require different treatments, so proper diagnosis by a healthcare provider is essential.

Is it normal to have white discharge during pregnancy?

Yeast infections typically cause thick, white, cottage cheese-like discharge accompanied by intense itching and irritation. Bacterial vaginosis usually results in thin, greyish discharge with a strong fishy odor. Both conditions require different treatments, so proper diagnosis by a healthcare provider is essential.

Can white discharge be a sign of ovulation?

Yes, some women may experience an increase in white or clear vaginal discharge around the time of ovulation. This discharge, often referred to as ovulation discharge, is typically stretchy and resembles egg whites. It serves to facilitate sperm transport and increase the chances of conception during the fertile window of the menstrual cycle.

Does wearing panty liners or pads affect vaginal discharge?

Wearing panty liners or pads can create a warm, moist environment that may increase the risk of developing vaginal infections or exacerbate existing ones. It is important to change pads and liners regularly and opt for breathable, cotton underwear to help maintain vaginal health.

Is it normal to have white discharge if you are not sexually active?

Yes, it is normal to have white discharge even if you are not sexually active. Vaginal discharge is a natural part of vaginal health and can occur in individuals who are not sexually active. However, if the discharge is accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, irritation, or a foul odor, it may indicate an underlying issue and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

Is it normal to have white discharge after taking a bath or shower?

Yes, it is normal to experience some vaginal discharge after bathing or showering. This discharge is often the result of the vagina naturally cleansing itself and is typically clear or slightly milky in color. It is considered a normal part of vaginal health.

Can leukorrhea be cured permanently?

The treatment and management of leukorrhea depend on the underlying cause. In many cases, such as infections or hormonal imbalances, leukorrhea can be effectively treated or managed with medication, lifestyle changes, or other interventions. However, some causes of leukorrhea may require ongoing management rather than a permanent cure.

Is it normal to have white discharge every day?

Yes, it is normal for women to have some amount of white discharge every day. Normal vaginal discharge helps keep the vagina clean and healthy by flushing out bacteria and dead cells. The amount and consistency of discharge may vary throughout the menstrual cycle, with increased discharge often observed around ovulation and before menstruation.

Does white discharge cause weight loss?

No, white discharge does not cause weight loss. While certain medical conditions or infections that cause white discharge may lead to symptoms such as appetite changes or weight loss, the discharge itself is not directly responsible for weight loss.

At what age does discharge start?

Vaginal discharge typically begins a few years before the onset of menstruation, usually between the ages of 9 and 16. This is a normal part of puberty and is caused by hormonal changes in the body. The onset of discharge may vary from person to person and may be influenced by factors such as genetics, ethnicity, and overall health.