1. Your cycle
  2. Health
  3. Vaginal discharge

Flo Fact-Checking Standards

Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

Thick White Vaginal Discharge: Causes and Reasons for White Mucus

Vaginal discharge is a regular and normal occurrence in the reproductive cycle. However, some types of discharge may indicate certain health conditions like infections or other serious health disorders. 
Thick white vaginal secretion is the most common and noticeable type of discharge. It is usually normal and comes out of the body in various stages of the menstrual cycle. 

Most people experience different types of vaginal discharge throughout their monthly menstrual cycle. You may produce around a teaspoon of clear, thick or thin, white, odorless discharge each day. The color can vary from white to clear to brown.

The variety of color, consistency, and texture is associated with your hormones and reflects what is going inside your body. Whitish discharge before the start of your period is filled with cells and fluid that will be shed from the vagina. The white discharge may sometimes look slightly yellow in color. As long as it is not accompanied by itching, discomfort, or irritation, it is normal. This part of the monthly cycle is known as the luteal phase.  

When you are ovulating (the middle of your cycle), vaginal discharge is stretchy, clear, or watery. Some people use discharge as a method to track potential fertility. This is called fertility tracking/awareness or natural family planning.

Thin and stretchy discharge occurs when the egg is released from the ovaries. This is when you are most fertile. Thick white discharge is the infertile cervical mucus. Regardless of the texture or color, vaginal secretion keeps the vaginal tissues lubricated, free from infections, and healthy. As long as the vaginal mucus is not accompanied by unusual or unpleasant symptoms like a rash, itching, bad odor, pain, or redness, it is considered normal.

Clear white discharge represents normal discharge. This discharge should not be accompanied by other symptoms, like itching, burning, or irritation. Clear and stretchy white discharge means that you are most likely ovulating.

If you notice odorless creamy white discharge, it is perfectly normal a few days before your period. It can also be an indication of ovulation when the creamy white discharge starts to be stretchy and thick. 

Thick and milky white vaginal discharge may be a sign of early pregnancy. This milky white discharge during early pregnancy is called leukorrhea; it occurs due to elevating and varying estrogen levels.

A bit of white discharge at the start and end of your period is normal. However, if you experience thick white clumpy discharge like wet toilet paper, it may cause itching and is indicative of a yeast infection. Itchy white discharge due to a yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of yeast or fungus in the vagina. Roughly 75 percent of women experience at least one yeast infection at some point in their life. This type of discharge needs treatment.

Vaginal discharge is important for the female reproductive system. Thick white vaginal discharge is often called infertile cervical mucus. This type of mucus is seen between ovulation and the beginning of your period. As long as the discharge is not accompanied by symptoms like pain, redness, or itching, it is absolutely normal.

Possible causes for white discharge before your period include:

  • Normal reproductive system functioning
  • Birth control Birth control alters your hormone levels, which can lead to increased white discharge. This white discharge is a normal side effect of hormonal birth control.
  • Pregnancy — Discharge from pregnancy is usually thicker and creamier than normal.

Different types of vaginal discharge are categorized based on their color and consistency. Some vaginal discharge is normal. Others that are chunky, foul smelling, or green and yellow may indicate an underlying condition that needs attention and immediate treatment.

All healthy vaginas and vulvas have a normal scent. A funky smell or bad odor is indicative of an infection or of some medical condition that needs attention and treatment, for instance:

  • The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include unpleasant-smelling discharge and a burning sensation when you pee.
  • Vaginitis due to a yeast infection causes thick white discharge without any smell.
  • Unpleasant odor in vaginal discharge is also caused by sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis.

Persistent, thick, white discharge with a foul odor is not normal. It could indicate a condition that needs immediate treatment.

As long as the vaginal discharge is normal and you’re not experiencing any symptoms such as a funky odor or itching, no treatment is required. If there is a problem, different kinds of vaginal discharge need different kinds of medical attention and treatment. Of course, all treatments should be prescribed and discussed with your healthcare specialist.

  • Thick white clumpy discharge like wet toilet paper may indicate a vaginal yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis). The symptoms of a yeast infection include itching, painful sex and irritation, and aches around the vulva. Vaginal candidiasis can be treated with antifungal medications in creams, ointments, tablets, and suppositories. 
  • White or yellow discharge with a fishy smell may be an indication of bacterial vaginosis. The symptoms include itching and burning, redness, and swelling of the vulva and vagina. It can be treated with antibiotic pills or creams.
  • Frothy white, yellow, or green discharge could be indicative of trichomoniasis when accompanied by an itching sensation while urinating. Treatment typically involves antibiotics.
  • Cloudy white or yellow discharge may be indicative of gonorrhea. Most women with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. If you do experience symptoms, they may include bleeding between periods, increased urgency or frequency of having to pee, and lower abdomen pain. You can read more about treatment for gonorrhea here.

Some preventive measures for abnormal vaginal discharge include the following.

  • Shower regularly, particularly after exercise.
  • Avoid using scented gels, soaps, or douches. Keep your vagina free from feminine sprays and bubble baths.
  • After peeing, wipe from front to back to stop bacteria from getting into the vulva area or vagina and causing an infection.
  • Wear cotton underwear, and avoid extremely tight clothing.

Vaginal discharge is a normal, usual, and regular occurrence, and it is a reflection of your health. However, certain types of discharge are unexpected and may indicate an infection (vaginal or yeast infection). If vaginal discharge is accompanied by pelvic pain, a foul smell, irritation, or redness, your doctor can help you treat it.

https://www.scirp.org/html/1-1990094_72609.htm

https://www.scirp.org/html/1-1990094_72609.htm

https://www.ogmagazine.org.au/16/3-16/chronic-vaginal-discharge-causes-management/

https://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f4975

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2099568/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5052075/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5052075/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cervical-mucus-method/about/pac-20393452

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis-of-neisseria-gonorrhoeae-infection-in-adults-and-adolescents

Read this next