What does yellow discharge mean

White creamy or milky discharge: what does it mean?

White milky discharge or white creamy discharge is completely normal and helps keep vaginal tissues healthy and infection-free. Normal milky discharge from the vagina changes consistency during your menstruation and has no odor. Vaginal discharge can range from clear and watery during ovulation to milky white and sticky at other times. Pregnancy and sexual arousal can also lead to an increase in white discharge.

Any change in the consistency, color, and smell of the milky discharge from the vagina can indicate a vaginal infection. For example, fungal and bacterial infections can cause the white milky discharge to turn yellow, green, or brown. In some cases, the white creamy discharge can become lumpy if there is a yeast infection in the vagina. Abnormal vaginal discharge is often accompanied by a strong smelling odor, itching, pain, and swelling of the labia.

This article will tell you why normal vaginal discharge is milky white in color. You will also find out when a white creamy discharge is a sign of an infection that needs to be treated with either home remedies or medication from a doctor.

Why is there white milky or creamy discharge?

A healthy vagina produces a white, milky discharge that can change during your monthly menstrual cycle. As long as there is no odor and no symptoms such as pain, an itchy vaginal area, or redness and swelling, there is nothing to worry about.

According to doctors of theMayo Clinic the white, milky discharge is a combination of fluid (mucus) and cells. The function of the whitish discharge is to protect your vagina from irritation and infection. Normal vaginal discharge has no odor. The amount, consistency, and color of vaginal discharge can range from a thin, clear watery liquid to a thick, creamy white discharge with a sticky feel.1

Causes of Milky or Creamy Discharge

First, let's examine the causes of normal milky or creamy white vaginal discharge.

ovulation

During ovulation, your cervix produces mucus that is protein-white in consistency and color. This helps the sperm find the egg to conceive and can be a sign when you are most fertile.

TheAmerican Pregnancy Association says that an increase in estrogen hormone levels causes the milky or creamy discharge of ovulation. This is also known as protein cervical mucus or EWCM for short. This whitish clear, sticky discharge creates the perfect environment for conception.2

If you find that you have pale milky white discharge regularly around 12-14 days before your period, it may only be a sign that you are ovulating.

pregnancy

Milky white discharge from your vagina is an early sign of pregnancy. During this time, you may also notice spots before your period and have abdominal cramps (implantation cramps), which are sometimes mistaken for menstrual cramps.

Dr. Trina Pagano byWebMD says the white milky discharge occurs because the walls of the vagina thicken in preparation for pregnancy.3

You are likely to have white vaginal discharge throughout the course of your pregnancy. This is called leucorrhea and is completely normal during pregnancy. On the websiteWhatToExpect.com it is said that the discharge is caused by the mucous membrane being more active during pregnancy. The white discharge usually starts in your second trimester and gradually thickens (creamy discharge) as your pregnancy progresses. The purpose of the thick creamy discharge is to protect your vagina from infection.4

If you notice any changes in the color or smell of the discharge - for example, if the discharge changes from white to brown, green, or yellow, you should speak to your health care professional. TheAmerican Pregnancy Association however, says thateasy Spots are normal during the first trimester of pregnancy.5

stress

Another reason for white creamy discharge is extreme emotional or psychological stress. Although it is not known exactly why the creamy discharge occurs, scientists have linked psychological distress to an increase in the production of white vaginal mucus.

One inInternational Journal of Epidemiology published study reported that psychological pathways can affect the reproductive systems of some women. In the study, a third of the women surveyed attributed their discharge to stress and anxiety.6 Although the study mentioned that there could be other factors that are causing the white discharge, it does say that more research needs to be done on the relationship between stress and vaginal health.

Another way stress can affect your body is by releasing hormones that can affect your immune system and disrupt your menstrual cycle. Together, these factors can upset the delicate balance of bacteria in your vagina, causing a thick, milky discharge.

If you want to find some natural ways to relieve stress, please check out my articles on Natural Remedies For Anxiety And Stress and The Best Essential Oils For Anxiety And Stress.

menopause

Women who are in the perimenopausal phase of life (the time before menopause) may experience irregular vaginal discharge. This is due to changes in hormone levels and irregular periods.

According to Dr. Jack D. Sobel, professor atof the medical faculty theWayne State University , menopausal women typically have very little discharge.7 Most of the time, the yellow-white vaginal discharge during menopause is the result of infection.8

Menstrual cycle

If you notice the occasional white, creamy or milky discharge before or after your period, it may only be part of your regular menstrual cycle. Doctors at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation say creamy white discharges are common at the beginning and end of your menstrual cycle.13

The best way to tell if the thick white discharge is normal for you is to regularly monitor and observe your monthly cycle.

Infections that cause a white creamy discharge

Abnormal white milky discharges may have a cottage cheese consistency, change color, or have a strong odor. Here are common reasons for irregular white discharge.

Yeast infection

A white, lumpy, creamy discharge with no odor is one of the symptoms of candidiasis, one of the most common types of vaginal infections. Candidiasis is caused by an overgrowth of the candida fungus that occurs naturally in the vagina. Along with the thick white creamy discharge, you may experience vaginal itching and burning in the vulva and notice swelling around the vulva.

Doctors atWebMD say factors that can cause candida overgrowth, use antibiotics, have high estrogen levels, diabetes, a poor immune system, or being overweight. The yeast infection results in a white, lumpy, odorless discharge from the vagina. This is more likely to happen just before your menstruation.9

There are many natural home remedies available to get rid of a yeast infection. For example, coconut oil contains antifungal properties that can help reduce the number of fungi. Another natural cure for candidiasis is apple cider vinegar. The acidic properties of apple cider vinegar help balance the pH level in the vagina and reduce itching. Eating yogurt with live bacteria can also help restore normal bacterial balance in the body and treat vaginal yeast infections.

Bacterial infection

If the delicate balance of bacteria in the vagina is upset, you can develop bacterial vaginosis (BV), which creates a milky discharge with a strong odor. There could be a number of reasons why you might get bacterial vaginosis. This can be caused by washing the genital area with a bubble bath or a recent change in your sex partner.

According to Dr. Tim Kenny upPatient.info bacterial vaginosis leads to a whitish-gray discharge with a fish-like odor.10 You may have a lot of this discharge, and the infection can cause vaginal burning.

Bacterial infections with painful milk-gray discharge could also be a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). For example, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause vaginal discharge and a burning sensation when you urinate.

You can treat mild cases of bacterial vaginosis at home. Some of the best natural treatments for BV are probiotics to promote vaginal health, tea tree oil to kill the harmful bacteria that cause the discharge, or coconut oil for its antibacterial properties.

Frequently asked questions about White Creamy or Milky Discharge

Since discharge that is white and creamy or milky is very common and there are many reasons, here are answers to many questions about white creamy discharge.

Does white milky discharge have a smell?

Usually not . Creamy or milky white discharge shouldn't have a distinct odor, even if it is caused by a yeast infection. National Health Service doctors say the normal discharge is clear or white and does not smell. However, if you notice a discharge that has a distinct odor and is thick white or yellowish, it is likely a sign of a bacterial infection.

Why do I have excessive white lumpy discharge?

When you have an excessive white lumpy discharge there are a number of conditions that can cause it. For example, as mentioned above, yeast infections can cause a thick white discharge that looks like cottage cheese.

However, some women experience a white, heavy, thick discharge with no infection. National Health Service doctors say you may have heavier discharge during pregnancy if you are sexually active or use birth control.11

Is the white creamy or milky discharge normal before my normal period?

Yes . Many women have white, creamy or milky discharge before their period. According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, your body produces a lot of cervical mucus before ovulation. This discharge tends to get thicker if you haven't received, and you may notice a thick whitish discharge on your underwear.13

Is creamy white or milky discharge normal after a normal period?

Yes that's it . Many doctors say that some women have a white, creamy or milky discharge after a period with normal hormonal shifts.

However, if you have a bacterial infection, Dr. Mary Harding that the white discharge caused by bacterial vaginosis will be heavier and thicker immediately after your period.14 If you notice a thick, lumpy white discharge, it could also be a sign of a yeast infection.

What does white creamy discharge mean after sex?

There may be situations where you notice creamy or milky white discharge after sex. For example, Dr. Cynthia White of MedlinePlus said that sexual arousal can increase the amount of mucus your cervix secretes.15  However, if you have a bacterial infection, you may notice increased white discharge after sex.10

Is it normal to have white, creamy or milky discharge during pregnancy?

Yes . It is perfectly normal to have a creamy white discharge during pregnancy. According to the National Health Service, by the last week of pregnancy, your discharge will get a lot thicker and you may also notice some blood in the thick white mucus. This happens when the mucus loosens from your cervix in preparation for childbirth.16

When to see a doctor about milk discharge

White vaginal discharge is normal in women and is necessary for a healthy vagina. Abnormal discharge is one that is brown, green, yellow, or cloudy and has a strong odor. Also, an abnormal white odorless discharge is thick and lumpy like cottage cheese.

You should see your doctor if you have the following symptoms along with your vaginal discharge:

  • The discharge is a different color from white.
  • You have itching and / or swelling around the vulva, labia, or vaginal opening.
  • Your discharge has a strong smell.
  • You have pain in the vagina and / or painful intercourse.
  • A burning sensation when urinating.

Read my other related articles

1. The Top 9 Home Remedies For Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
2. How To Get Rid Of Vaginal Odor: The Best Natural Remedies
3. The best foods to improve your vaginal health
4. Swollen Vaginal Area: Causes and Natural Treatments
5. The top 10 home remedies for vaginal itching