But a change in color or smell may be a sign of an infection. If you notice that your discharge has taken on an unpleasant smell and a different color, you should make an appointment with your health care provider.
By “egg white discharge,” we mean vaginal discharge that is similar in texture and consistency to egg whites. Around the time of ovulation, this discharge is often clear, stretchy, and thin. After ovulation, both the consistency and the color of the discharge changes, generally becoming white or light yellow and fairly thick.
Pregnant people tend to experience changes in their vaginal discharge as well, which is a result of hormonal changes in the body.
The changes in color and consistency occur because vaginal discharge, or mucus — which is a mixture of secretions from the cervix, vaginal squamous epithelial cells, and secretions from sebaceous, sweat, and Bartholin's glands — has a complex mix of viscoelastic properties. These properties experience structural changes throughout the cycle.
So, what does it mean when you have egg white vaginal discharge? It could suggest a few different things:
- You’re near ovulation: Before and during ovulation, you may experience egg white discharge. This type of vaginal discharge is sometimes referred to as egg white cervical mucus (EWCM) and is released by the cervix. The mucus is generally clear and stretchy, resembling a raw egg white.
- You are sexually aroused: It’s normal to secrete an egg white-like discharge when you’re sexually stimulated.
- You are pregnant: During early pregnancy, it’s normal to have discharge that looks similar to egg white discharge. This discharge is called leukorrhea and tends to be thin with a milk-like color and a mild smell.
If you notice that your vaginal discharge has an egg white-like consistency and is clear and odorless or has a mild sour odor, this is normal. It’s your body’s response to cyclic changes in your hormone levels.
If the discharge is a different color and smells unpleasant, this may be a sign of an infection. Yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and sexually transmitted infections can all cause abnormal changes in your vaginal discharge. If you’re noticing this, it’s best to make an appointment with your health care provider.
Egg white discharge and your menstrual cycle
During the different stages of your menstrual cycle, your vaginal discharge changes in both consistency and volume. Before ovulation, the discharge is usually thin, clear, and slippery. You may also notice an increase in the amount of discharge that your body is producing, which is a result of increased levels of the hormone estrogen.
After ovulation, the hormone progesterone is dominant. The consistency of discharge becomes thick and sticky, and the color changes from clear to white.
Egg white discharge after menopause
After menopause, some people notice a decrease in the amount of vaginal discharge. This is often due to a decrease in estrogen levels, and it can cause the vaginal walls to become thin and less lubricated. The thinning and drying of the vaginal walls is called atrophic vaginitis and should be treated early to prevent any further symptoms or complications.
Symptoms of atrophic vaginitis include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal itchiness
- Vaginal burning, pain, and soreness
- Pain or discomfort during intercourse
- Urinary incontinence
- Painful urination
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
Some people experience all of these symptoms, while others experience only one or two. It’s best to see your health care provider if you notice any of these symptoms, so they can be managed with medication. If the symptoms you’re noticing are associated with intercourse, you can use a lubricant or moisturizer to help remedy the dryness.
Abnormal discharge is rarely associated with serious diseases, but an egg white-like discharge that seems atypical could be a sign that you have (or are getting) an infection.
But how can you tell if your vaginal discharge is abnormal?
Color and smell are the two key aspects to pay attention to. A change in one or both of these could indicate that something is going on:
- A yellow-greenish discharge may be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection.
- Vaginal discharge that’s grayish in color could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis.
- Pinkish discharge can be a sign of vaginal irritation, cervical bleeding, or implantation bleeding.
- An unpleasant smell could indicate bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted infection.
In addition to changes in vaginal discharge, some people also experience symptoms like vaginal itching, pelvic pain, and vaginal burning.
An egg white-like discharge that’s clear and odorless or has a mild sour odor is completely normal. But if you notice that your vaginal discharge has changed in color or smell, and is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s a good idea to see a health care provider. While it can be tempting to self-medicate or ignore the symptoms and hope they will disappear, doing so can cause complications.
Your best bet is to consult a health care provider who can determine what’s happening and advise you on the best course of action.