White discharge that is accompanied by bad smell and its consistency is different from the usual one can be a sign of vaginal infection. These may include candidiasis or an indication of some change in the vaginal flora such as bacterial vaginiosis. In such cases, the discharge will be accompanied also by other symptoms such as a burning sensation and itching in the vagina. It is therefore recommended to consult a gynaecologist as soon as possible for further examination and to prescribe the right treatment.
However, not all types of discharge are a sign if disease or infection. This is because it is normal for women to excrete small amounts of white or transparent discharge, which is usually an odourless fluid that lubricates the vagina. In addition, when the discharge is similar to egg white, it may indicate the fertile period of the woman.
Main causes of white discharge
White discharge that resembles curdled milk and is accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, redness and a burning sensation in the vulva and vagina can have different causes. Some of them include:
1. Vaginal candidiasis
Vaginal candidiasis is a common infection that affects women and it usually arises due to the development of the fungus of the genus Candida sp., most often Candida albicans. Apart from causing white discharge, it also results to itching of the genital region, a feeling of a burning sensation when urinating, pain during sexual intercourse and redness of the vagina.
How to treat: Treatment of candidiasis is usually done using antifungal remedies in form of vaginal tablets such as Fluconazole of in form of ointments. Treatment can last between 3 to 7 days and it should only be prescribed by the gynaecologist.
2. Bacterial vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis is a condition that results in change in the vaginal flora when there is a great development of the bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis. It can cause white, grey or yellow discharge that comes with an unpleasant smell that is usually similar to that of rotten fish. There may also be itching and a burning sensation of the vagina.
How to treat: Treatment of the Gardnerella vaginalis infection is done using the antibiotic Metronidazole, which should only be prescribed by a gynaecologist. Moreover, during the recovery period, condom should be used during sexual intercourse and there should also be high maintenance of hygiene.
3. Hormonal changes
It is normal that before a woman menstruates, there is usually presence of white and thick discharge. This is considered part of the menstrual cycle and it is normally related to hormonal changes that occur during this period. This type of discharge has no smell and it is often not associated with any other types of symptoms. The discharge appears with the objective of displacement of the sperm and to allow for the fertilization of the egg. It is also a way to protect the woman’s body, and ensuring that the vagina is well lubricated.
In addition during pregnancy, it is also possible to note small amounts of white discharge. This happens as a result of hormonal changes that is brought about by pregnancy. In this case, it is ideal that the woman consults with the gynaecologist to ensure that the pregnancy is growing the correct manner.
However, if a woman experiences yellow, brown or pink discharge before menstruation, then it is important to consult with the gynaecologist so that the genital region is evaluated and tests are performed to confirm the presence or absence if a vaginal infection or a sexually transmitted infection. Afterwards the gynaecologist will be able to prescribe the right treatment.
Care to avoid white discharge
White discharge may be a sign of infections and it is therefore important that the woman takes crucial care so as to avoid alteration of the vaginal microbiota, as this will favour development of an infection. The following can be done:
- Avoid getting wearing wet underwear
- Do not wear panties of synthetic material, rather wear those made of cotton
- Wear light clothing and avoid jeans and very tight shorts
- Avoid sweet foods and carbohydrate-rich foods, as they decrease immunity, enhancing the emergence of infections
- Do not use the vaginal showers directly on the genital region and wash the outer region of the vagina using water
- Sleep without panties
- After evacuating, always clean in the front-to-back direction to prevent faecal bacteria from getting into the vagina and causing infections.
In addition one should also avoid using fragrant wet kerer or toilet paper that contains perfume as this may harm the woman’s health, increasing the risks of developing infections.