White Discharge from Vagina: What is it?

White discharge from the vagina is confusing because depending on the texture, it can mean a couple different things.  Some are good, some aren’t so good.  Learning how to recognize the different types of white vaginal discharge can help you catch infections early and avoid more serious vaginal issues.

Normal discharge

At the beginning and end of your menstrual cycle, it’s normal for white discharge from the vagina to be present.  It’s usually relatively thick.  Normal white discharge isn’t accompanied by itching, burning, or any other kind of irritation.  It doesn’t have a strong odor, either.  If you notice any unusual symptoms like these along with white discharge, you may want to take a closer look.

Yeast infection discharge

The other common type of white discharge from the vagina is yeast infection discharge.  This is also thick, but instead of having a smooth, normal texture, it’s lumpy.  This discharge has been described as looking a little bit like cottage cheese.  Irritation symptoms like itching and burning are quite common with this infection.  Yeast infections affect up to 75% of women at some point in their lives.  Most find that alternative treatments and home remedies work better than prescription antifungals.

Bacterial vaginosis discharge

On occasion, another type of infection called bacterial vaginosis can cause white discharge.  This kind of white discharge from the vagina will be thin and have a very strong fishy odor.  Bacterial vaginosis discharge can also be grayish clear.  The odor is often a better way to distinguish this type of infection than the appearance of the discharge.  Itching and burning may be present with this infection as well.  Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with antibiotics or alternative cures.  The downside to antibiotics is that they sometimes result in a secondary yeast infection, because they kill the good bacteria that keep Candida from growing out of control.

Other discharge

Normal white discharge might occur at different times throughout your cycle, not just at the beginning or end.  Discharge is essentially the vagina’s way of cleaning itself.  After a day of particularly heavy cleaning, you might notive thick white discharge.  This is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about.  Generally, thick white discharge isn’t a problem unless there are some symptoms like odor, a strange texture, or irritation.  Any changes in discharge should be monitored carefully though, to prevent further problems from developing.

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