Close-up of hands with diverse skin tones comparing different types and textures of white vaginal discharge.

Whether it's slippery like egg whites or thin and milky, white discharge can come in many different forms. You might have even noticed that it looks and feels different from one day to another — and it’s all a normal part of having a menstrual cycle!

White discharge can come unexpectedly, but it's normal to experience it throughout your menstrual cycle. And just how your cycle goes through different phases, you might notice your discharge changing consistency and appearance regularly too.  These changes are completely natural and happen to most of us. So, as long as your discharge is odourless and doesn't make you feel uncomfortable, it's usually nothing to worry about. 

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What exactly is white discharge?

White discharge comes from tiny little glands found inside our vagina and cervix (the long, narrow end of the womb that forms a canal and connects to the vagina). Basically, our bodies create discharge to flush out dead cells and bacteria. This can help our vaginas stay protected from infections. [1] At the end of the day, it's just a way our bodies try to keep us healthy - simple as that!

How much white discharge is normal?

Although sometimes it can feel like a lot, our vaginas produce only about one teaspoon (around 2 to 5 mL) of white or clear discharge daily. [2]

You may have noticed that the amount and consistency of your white discharge changes throughout the month. This is because our menstrual cycles can have a huge impact on the amount and type of discharge we produce. What’s important is that you get familiar with your normal so that you can easily spot when something's off and you may need help from a medical professional. 

But if you simply feel that your discharge is too much for your pants to handle, why not get an extra layer of protection with panty liners , like Bodyform’s Panty Liners??

What do different types of white discharge mean?

Healthy discharge is usually clear, pale yellow or milky white-ish, depending on the stage you’re at in your menstrual cycle. It shouldn’t have a very strong smell when it leaves your body, but sometimes is a little tangy.  
Every woman’s discharge varies, and even during one single cycle, it can change a lot. Therefore, there really is no definition of what’s ‘normal’ for women in general. Having said that, discharge tends to be transparent and heavy during ovulation, and before and after your period it’s usually more of a white-ish colour. Finding out what’s normal for you means you’re more likely to spot an unfamiliar change, and then get it checked out. 
From thick and creamy to watery and sticky — white discharge can come in many textures, tones, and consistencies. Think of it as a type of signal about our health. So, let's explore some of the most common types of white discharge and figure out what kind of message our bodies are trying to send us.

Milky white discharge

We usually experience thin, milky discharge during the days leading up to ovulation (when an egg gets released from the ovaries in preparation for pregnancy). This type of discharge looks a bit cloudy and might remind you of the slippery consistency of egg whites.

If you experience milky white discharge, it's completely normal! It's your body's way of saying that you're getting ready for the most fertile window of your menstrual cycle. You might even notice it starting to turn thicker and more opaque as you get closer to starting your period and that’s alright. [3]

If you're already expecting a baby, you might also notice thin, milky discharge during the early stages of your pregnancy. This is just your body hinting that you're undergoing some hormonal changes, and you may want to start preparing for the journey ahead.

Thick white discharge

You may have noticed that your discharge is thicker or cloudier midway through your menstrual cycle. Thick, creamy discharge is your body trying to tell you that you are ovulating (or releasing an egg) and your cycle is healthy. [4]

If you're trying to get pregnant, this kind of discharge is the signal you’ve been waiting for to try and make some babies! And if you’d rather stay child-free (at least for now), then take it as a warning to be extra safe when having penetrative sex with your partners.

But keep an eye out for this type of discharge! If you notice that your white discharge is thick and creamy and you have a red, sore, and itchy vulva, it could signal a vaginal infection , like thrush.  Alarming as it may sound, thrush is pretty common, and although it might be uncomfortable to talk about your discharge with a doctor, they’ll know how to handle it. 

White sticky discharge

A few days after ovulation, our discharge gets a bit sticky, rather than stretchy or watery. It's our body’s natural attempt at preventing sperm from getting into the uterus outside our most fertile window. [5]

Keep in mind that although it may be a bit more challenging for sperm to reach the egg, white sticky discharge is not a failproof way of preventing unwanted pregnancy. It’s still a good idea to use some form of contraception if you’re not trying to have a baby any time soon.

Clumpy white discharge

Our vaginal flora (the environment inside our vagina) is made up of a balance of good and bad microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. One of the most common ones is yeast. Sometimes, we accidentally start producing too much of it too quickly, throwing off our natural balance and causing a yeast infection (or thrush).

This causes your discharge to feel clumpy and look a bit like cottage cheese or porridge. Sometimes, it might come with vaginal itching, burning, redness and swelling around your vulva, and general discomfort. Either way, it’s a good idea to reach out to your doctor. Though it’s normal to get a bit worried, the good news is yeast infections are generally easy to cure. So, with the right treatment, your vagina will recover in almost no time! 

Watery white discharge

Watery white discharge is usually normal. But your body might be trying to signal that something is not quite right if it turns a greyish-white colour.

Particularly, if it smells a bit fishy, it could be a bacterial infection like bacterial vaginosis (also known as BV). [7] Though BV does not usually cause soreness or itching, it does not clear up on its own, so you may want to reach out to a medical professional to get it checked out. Scary as it may sound, this is a very common infection that is easily tested for and treated with antibiotics, so try not to worry too much.

What can I do to avoid infections?

There are a few simple steps we can take to help keep infections out of our V-Zones (that’s everything to do with our vagina, vulva and the V-shaped front of our body that you can see).

Try to wash your vulva (just the outside bits) with lukewarm water — it’s always a good idea to avoid washing inside your vagina (your body is great at keeping your vagina clean by itself). You might have also noticed that certain perfumed soaps or shower gels irritate the skin around your V-Zone, so you might want to avoid using them. Instead, opt for a gentle intimate wash that supports your vagina’s natural pH balance.

What happens if I notice white discharge before my period?

Our menstrual cycles have a huge impact on the discharge we produce, so it's only natural that the amount and consistency change every few days. That means it’s generally ok to let it be! White discharge before your period usually just means your body is healthy. 

But if the sensation of wetness in your underwear makes you uncomfortable, why not try wearing liners during the days leading up to your period? They’ll take care of any discharge so you can go about your day as usual. You might also want to try washable absorbent underwear for all fluids, including discharge and urine.  It looks and feels just like your regular underwear, but gives protection for up to 12 hours and is reusable 

Keep in mind that if the white discharge before your period comes with itching, burning, pelvic pain, or an unpleasant smell, it could signal that something’s off. When that happens, it may be worth talking to a medical professional, just in case.

What if I notice white discharge after sex?

If you notice clear or white fluid in your underwear after sex, it’s completely normal. Our bodies produce different types of fluids before, during, and after sex, which look like discharge, but can come from a mix of things like sexual arousal, female ejaculation, or male ejaculation.

However, if you are experiencing grey, yellow, or green discharge after sex or symptoms like itching and pain when you pee, you may want to consider contacting your sexual health clinic for a test, as these could be signs of infection.

Although discussing it might feel uncomfortable at first, V-Zone infections are nothing to be ashamed of. It’s important to talk about them openly, not only with your doctor so you can look out for your health, but also with your sexual partners so they can look out for theirs too.

Is thick white discharge a sign of pregnancy?

Thick, white discharge is not necessarily a sign of pregnancy, but the two can be related! Many women+ find that their vaginal discharge increases when expecting a baby. [8] This is a good thing — it's just how our bodies try to protect us from any bacteria and infection.

During the very end of pregnancy, you might notice your discharge increasing a bit more (and even turn pink). This might be your body telling you that it's prepared to go into labour and have that baby already!

While white discharge is completely natural and usually nothing to worry about – it's important that you get comfortable and familiar with what’s normal for your body. This way, you can easily spot when the colour or consistency is off, and it might be time to reach out to your doctor. Although talking about intimate topics like discharge can be a bit awkward at first, remember that it’s very normal, and doctors are used to it – it's their job, after all!

If you'd like to find out more, why not explore our essential guide to vaginal discharge and look into how our vaginal pH can impact discharge?

Medical disclaimer

The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.


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