White Discharge Before Period: What Can It Be?

February 2022
  1. Menstrual cycle
  2. Bacterial vaginosis
  3. Yeast infection
  4. Colpitis
  5. Pregnancy

Before your period, you may notice that you get a white discharge that is thick and odorless. This is normal and happens due to the expected hormonal changes caused by the menstrual cycle. This discharge helps keep the tissues lubricated.

This discharge can also indicate what stage you are in regarding your menstrual cycle. Therefore, it may be helpful to monitor for this discharge if you are looking to get pregnant.

If you get other symptoms with the white discharge, such as foul smell, discomfort, itchiness, or a burning sensation, we recommend you go to your doctor for assessment. The cause of these symptoms may be related to a fungal or bacterial infection, which require specific treatment.

1. Menstrual cycle

White discharge is normal and expected at certain points of tyehe menstrual cycle. It happens due to hormonal changes that occur, specifically the increased production of progesterone by the corpus luteum, which is mainly composed of leukocytes. As the amount of progesterone increases in the blood, white discharge is released. Learn about the 12 other signs that your period may be coming. 

What to do: White discharge that occurs due to your cycle is normal and not linked to any signs or symptoms, and therefore it does not require treatment. However, if you wish to get pregnant, you should monitor the texture of the discharge and your cervical mucous to find out if you are close to ovulating. This type of monitoring is known as the Billings Ovulation Method.

2. Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis results from a change to the normal balance of the vaginal flora. The bacteria starts to over-multiply, leading to certain signs and symptoms, like heavy white discharge, vaginal burning and foul odor.  The main bacteria related to vaginosis is Gardnerella vaginalis.

What to do: Treatment for bacterial vaginosis is normally done with antibiotics, such as metronidazole. This medication should be used as prescribed by your doctor. It’s important for bacterial vaginosis to be diagnosed and treated under medical supervision to avoid the bacteria from proliferating and resulting in complicationyeasts, such as pelvic inflammatory disease.

3. Yeast infection

A yeast infection, or candidiasis, is an infection caused by fungi which are naturally present in the woman’s genital region. It is usually related to the development of Candida fungi, particularly Candida albicans. When this cells starts to over-multiply, you may experience thick white discharge as well as itchiness, burning, and redness in the genital area. Learn about the other symptoms associated with a yeast infection and what can cause them. 

What to do: To get rid of the excess of fungi and to relieve any symptoms, your doctor may recommend using antifungal medication, such as, fluconazole and miconazole. These medications which can be taken as pills, ointments, or vaginal suppositories, to be used as prescribed. There also some home remedies available to treat yeast infections. 

4. Colpitis

White discharge before menstruation can also be a sign of colpitis, which is an inflammation of the vagina and cervix caused by bacteria, fungi, and protozoans. In addition to discharge, you may notice an unpleasant smell, which gets worse after sexual intercourse, swelling in the genital area, and small white or red spots in the vaginal mucosa and the cervix, which are identified after the doctor’s examination.

What to do: It’s important to go to a gynecologist to be checked, diagnosed and treated. Usually, treatment is done with antimicrobial medication in the form of creams, ointments, or oral pills.

5. Pregnancy

In some cases, white discharge before menstruation can also indicate pregnancy. When this is the case, the discharge is thicker than usual. Learn about the other symptoms that can occur early on in pregnancy.

What to do: It’s important to pay attention to other pregnancy signs and symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches, a late period, and cramps. If you have these symptoms, we recommend you do a pregnancy test and visit a gynecologist, who will confirm the pregnancy. Learn about how to complete a home pregnancy test and when the best time is to complete one.

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in February 2022. Medical review completed by Dr. Sheila Sedicias - Gynecologist in November 2020.
Medical review:
Dr. Sheila Sedicias
Gynecologist
Physician graduated in Mastology and Gynecology by UFPE in 2008 and member no. 17459 of CRM-PE, Brazil.