White discharge (milky, pasty, thick): what is the cause?

Care for intimate health is very important. In addition, paying attention to the signals that the body gives helps to identify if there may be something wrong. For this reason, it is interesting to know well how the body works in order to know what is actually a change or what is a natural part of physiology.

The discharge is on the list of manifestations that often leave women in doubt and worry.

Therefore, the Healthy Minute clarifies everything about the white discharge and what it can indicate:


What is white discharge?

White vaginal discharge is common and natural. It is not usually a sign of illness or problems, but changes in color, odor and texture can be indicative of bacterial, fungal infections, other health problems or pregnancy.

The technical name of the discharge is leukorrhea and it can come in different colors, each with different indications about women’s health. Most colors indicate disease and infection, but the white discharge is natural and healthy.

Although some pathological conditions cause this color of secretion, it also happens without anything wrong.

It is also possible that he will appear white as a result of the approaching puberty. There are cases in which white discharge occurs up to a year before the first menstruation due to the first hormonal changes in the girl’s body. So, there is a time for her to prepare for menarche, the first menstruation.

Types of whitish discharge

The white discharge can be divided into a few types, each indicating different things. In general, it can be physiological or pathological:

Physiological discharge

Most common, the physiological discharge is perfectly normal and healthy . It can vary from transparent to whitish and must be odorless, or accompanied by other symptoms.

That alone is not a sign of concern. This discharge is responsible for the lubrication and natural hygiene of the vagina.

Pathological discharge

On the other hand, pathological discharge is indicative of a disease . It can be caused by a bacterium, a fungus or a protozoan, and must be treated by gynecologists .

Only through examination is it really identifiable, but some signs may exist such as smell and texture.

Characteristics of white discharge

White vaginal discharge may look like:

Egg white

The texture and appearance of egg white in the discharge, perhaps varying in color from transparent to white, may be an indication that the woman is ovulating. When ovulation happens, the body releases progesterone , which causes increased fluid production.


This type of white discharge is natural when it has no smell . It may indicate vaginal lubrication and is not a problem, but if there is a change in color or odor, it may be an infection.

Pasty or creamy

The discharge can be pasty or creamy. In these cases, there is an indication of a visit to the gynecologist, as it may be a sign of infection.

However, generally, other symptoms make the presence of fungi more frequent, such as burning, unpleasant odor and intense itching. The color of the discharge can also change, making the infection more evident.


One of the characteristics of natural discharge is that it is an odorless secretion. The consistency is, in general, milky, being closer to a fine secretion.

This can occur in several stages or conditions, being indicative of ovulation, vaginal lubrication or just intimate cleaning.

Is discharge and white mucus the same thing?

In general, mucus and discharge can be used to designate the same thing: that white or transparent secretion, natural and that does not indicate any pathology.

However, the term discharge is more used to designate when there is something wrong with the body. Those strong-smelling vaginal secretions, yellowish or greenish colors, often accompanied by symptoms such as redness or itching, indicate that the discharge may be due to infection.

Remember that mucus is natural and indicates a healthy, lubricated vagina. It can also be an indication of entry into the fertile period , if it is more fluid (like an egg white).

Regardless of the term used, discharge or mucus, it is important to pay attention to the characteristics of the secretion!

Other types of vaginal discharge

There are discharges of other colors and each one can mean different things. Some of them are:

Yellow discharge

The yellow discharge is often caused by diseases such as trichomoniasis and chlamydia, can also be caused by other sexually transmitted diseases or contraceptive use.

Brown discharge

The brown discharge can indicate blood in the natural secretion. It may be indicative of gonorrhea , but there is also the possibility that this type of discharge may appear at the beginning of a pregnancy, dumping old clots.

Pink discharge

The pink discharge is caused by the presence of low amount of blood. It may be a blood leak caused by the use of contraceptives, as well as a sign that an egg has been fertilized.

Causes: what can be white mucus coming out of the vagina?

The causes for white vaginal discharge are varied, some pathological, others perfectly natural.

When it has this color, the chances that the liquid is natural and not due to health problems are great.


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The white mucus , which is a whitish liquid is an ovulation signal. When it is happening, the body produces estrogen, a hormone that, among other things, causes white, pasty discharge.

During the first days after menstruation this liquid is more present. Then, the body produces progesterone, which makes this discharge more watery and the woman is more easily lubricated.


Bacterial infections can cause white vaginal discharge.

The bacterial vaginosis  is one of the main causes, with the infectious agent the bacteria Gardnerella vaginalis  and mobiluncos Gardnerella , which carries both the pasty discharge, itching, burning urination and nasty smell.

The infection can turn the discharge yellow or gray.


The candidiasis is an inflammation caused by fungus. It is the most common cause of pathological white discharge and can be easily treated. As with bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis causes itching, burning urination and an unpleasant smell.


Mental states can cause various changes in the body and stress and anxiety can cause an increase in white vaginal discharge.

Sexual arousal

Normally the liquid is more watery when it is due to sexual arousal. It serves for protection and lubrication during sex.

Uterine cancer

Uncommon, but possible, an extremely thick and strong-smelling white discharge can be a sign of cancer in the uterus. It is not a definitive symptom, but it is certainly worth a visit to the gynecologist.

Vaginal irritation

When the inner part of the vagina becomes irritated, white discharge is possible.

This can happen, for example, because of the use of soap inside the vaginal, which should not be done – not even with intimate soap.

This can cause irritation, allergic reactions and burning.

The inner part of the female genital can clean itself, only the outer part needs cleaning most of the time.

Can white discharge be pregnancy?

Yes. White discharge can be pregnancy and everything has to do with progesterone. It is a hormone produced during the second phase of the menstrual cycle – between ovulation and menstruation – and serves to prepare a woman’s body for pregnancy.

When a woman menstruates, her levels drop.

However, if the woman becomes pregnant, progesterone continues to be produced and menstruation does not happen.

This hormone causes a whitish discharge that usually decreases in volume when menstruation approaches. But as the hormone continues to work during pregnancy, the discharge does not stop.

If there is a large amount of whitish discharge when menstruation is delayed and even a few days after that happens, pregnancy is a possibility.

However, gynecological examination is still necessary, as this sign does not confirm pregnancy and can be many other things.

Risk factors for white discharge

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Any woman can – and probably will – find white vaginal discharge from time to time. However, when it happens because of infections, some people are at a higher risk group. Are they:

Unprotected intercourse

In addition to the possibility of pregnancy, which causes white discharge, unprotected intercourse can transmit vaginal infections if the partner does not have adequate hygiene or has a penile infection.

Even without contamination, male ejaculation inside the female body can cause white discharge shortly after or until the next day.

Poor hygiene

The lack of vaginal hygiene can favor the multiplication of bacteria, which can lead to infections.

Multiple partners

The more partners, the greater the chances of one of them having an infection, which also increases the chances of bacteria multiplying in the vagina that can cause white or other color discharge.


Cigarettes negatively affect the entire body and this includes the vagina. Smoking facilitates the reproduction of bacteria that can cause diseases such as bacterial vaginosis in women.

Recent use of antibiotics

Antibiotics are used to kill disease-causing bacteria. The problem is that they are not very specific.

When used, any bacteria present in the body that are sensitive to the drug are killed, whether it is a bacterium that is causing problems or one that is necessary for the normal functioning of the body.

The vagina has several bacteria that maintain natural and healthy acidity, in addition to protecting the region.

When taking antibiotics, they may fall prey to the drug, which, for a few days, facilitates other vaginal infections that can cause white discharge.

IUD use

The IUD can facilitate vaginosis when there are no exams prior to the insertion of the contraceptive method to identify the bacteria that causes the disease.

For this reason, women who have recently had an IUD are more likely to develop infections such as vaginosis, which cause white discharge.

How is the diagnosis made?

White vaginal discharge is a symptom, so there is no diagnosis for it. However, when pathological, its causes can be diagnosed by a doctor or gynecologist .

Microscopy of discharge

Observing the discharge under the microscope can be useful to find out what causes it.

It is possible to find bacteria that may be causing harm or to notice the lack of bacteria that should be present, for example lactobacilli , which is responsible for part of the vaginal acidity.

This acidity participates in the protection of the female genitalia, killing bacteria. If lactobacilli is not present, the vagina may become less acidic and more conducive to the multiplication of microorganisms that cause discharge.

PH test

The pH test measures the acidity of the discharge and the vagina. pH or hydrogen potential  is the measure used to measure how acidic a substance is. 7 is the neutral pH.

The lower the number, the more acidic the substance is. Above 7 it is considered alkaline.

Blood tends to have a pH of approximately 7.5, which is slightly alkaline, while saliva tends to be close to 6.5, slightly acidic.

Healthy vaginal pH is usually between 3.8 and 4.5. This acidity protects the vagina from harmful bacteria.

The pH test can be done to find changes in the vaginal pH, which can indicate the presence of harmful bacteria and the lack of necessary bacteria.


The Pap smear is the main gynecological exam done to identify cervical cancer, but it is also able to identify various infections and inflammations, both of which can cause discharge of different colors.

This test can identify: HPV , chlamydia, candidiasis, gonorrhea, syphilis , gonorrhea, trichomoniasis and other diseases.

Is vaginal discharge curable?

When the discharge is natural, due to pregnancy or the menstrual cycle, there is no disease to be cured.

However, when the cause is pathological, treatments may be necessary. All infectious causes of white discharge are curable and can be treated by a doctor.

Does white discharge need treatment?

Treatment depends on the cause and is often medication, which can be through vaginal or oral pills, or with ointments for the region.

Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Candida, which is caused by a fungus, requires antifungal drugs.

When caused by ovulation or pregnancy, nothing needs to be done about the white discharge, which is natural. The change of color or presence of odor, however, must be observed.

Medicines for white discharge

Several medications can be used for the various pathological causes of white discharge. Some of them are:

Medicines for candidiasis

  • Canditrat ;
  • Fluconazole ;

Medicines for vaginosis

  • Metronidazole ;
  • Clindamin-C ;
  • Clindamycin hydrochloride (Dalacin-C) .
  • Albocresil ;
  • Clocef ;
  • Clotrimazole ;
  • Colpatrin ;


NEVER  self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Living with vaginal discharge

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Living with the discharge is necessary and not necessarily bad. The flow of white discharge, or mucus, should not be large and rarely interferes with clothing.

However, it is important to pay attention to it, since if the discharge suddenly increases in volume, changes in texture, color or smell, it is possible that it is a sign of infection.

This being the case, a gynecologist must be consulted in order to diagnose and treat the condition.


In the vast majority of cases, whitish discharge from the vagina is not a problem.

It is something natural that happens during ovulation or pregnancy, and if there are no signs like burning, color change, unpleasant odor or itching, there is no need to worry.

Where these signs are present, treatment is necessary, but complete healing is often easy to achieve.

Complications: can white discharge be severe?

Some complications can present if there is no treatment for the cause of pathological discharge. Among them are:

Increased risk of STD contamination

Sexually transmitted diseases do not always settle in the body when the transmitting agent is passed through sex.

However, diseases such as bacterial vaginosis facilitate the onset of diseases such as HIV , gonorrhea , chlamydia , HPV  and genital herpes .

Increased risk of STD transmission

In the same way that it increases contamination, bacterial vaginosis is also capable of increasing the risks of transmitting these same diseases to the partner.

Premature birth

If the woman is pregnant and contaminated with a bacterium that causes bacterial vaginosis, delivery can happen prematurely, harming the baby.

Other infections

Infection with chlamydia or bacteria can spread to other parts of the body, such as the urethra, uterus, anus, in addition to being able to enter the lymphatic system.

Untreated infections are serious health problems.

How to prevent pathological white discharge?

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There are some actions that can be taken to prevent bacteria and fungi from infecting the vagina.

Maintain hygiene habits

Hygiene is the easiest way to prevent vaginal infections. It is important that specific soaps for intimate hygiene are used.

That’s because vaginal pH is sensitive to normal soap and changes in it can kill bacteria needed for vaginal health and allow other bacteria to settle.

Remember that the use of intimate soaps is for the external part of the genital , the so-called vulva .

The inner part (the vagina) should not have contact with soap as there are many chances of allergic reactions to happen, in addition to the body having a self-cleaning mechanism for the vaginal interior.

It is recommended to use the intimate soap only once a day, although up to 3 is acceptable. More than that can bring problems to the region.

Some intimate soaps are:

  • Dermafeme ;
  • Intimate Protex ;
  • Vagisil .

Visit the gynecologist annually

Gynecologists are able to find changes in vaginal pH and harmful infectious agents in the office and through exams. The prevention of any type of discharge involves frequent visits to the gynecologist.

Avoid wet panties

The humidity favors the multiplication of bacteria and fungi in the region, so it is important to avoid wearing wet or damp underwear, especially for long periods.

Avoid tight clothing and synthetic panties

Tight clothing does not allow the skin to breathe properly, as do synthetic panties.

This causes the temperature of the vagina to rise, which is ideal for the multiplication of bacteria.

Wearing cotton panties and light, loose clothing, especially on hot days, reduces the chances of infection.

Use toilet paper from front to back

The use of toilet paper should be done from front to back.

The bacteria present in the vagina are unlikely to cause any problems when they come into contact with the anus, however intestinal bacteria can cause serious infections in the vagina.

Therefore, the use of toilet paper should be done from front to back, avoiding taking the intestinal bacteria into the vagina.

Use a condom

The condom is extremely important to prevent infections and sexually transmitted diseases. If there are bacteria on the partner’s penis, they can multiply in the vagina and cause problems.

Therefore, the condom is important, especially when the partner’s hygiene is not well known.

Use different condoms for different types of sex

For the same reason that using toilet paper backwards can cause infections, vaginal sex right after anal sex can also.

If you have anal sex, you must change the condom before switching to the vaginal. If you do not use a condom, clean the penis before vaginal penetration.

The same goes for toys: do not use the same sex toy in the anus and vagina and always clean them before using them.

Common questions

Is white discharge normal? Does every woman have it?

-Yeah . It is common for the discharge to be thin, white or transparent, and it is natural, every woman has it. It is part of the natural cleaning of the body and vaginal lubrication.

As long as there is no change in texture, odor, color or quantity, there is no problem and it is perfectly natural.

Is discharge or discharge before menstruation normal?

In general, yes. If the secretion is white, odorless and without other associated symptoms (itching, burning), it only indicates the change in the menstrual cycle. That is, it is normal and healthy.

The panties get wet, do I have a problem?

Probably not. The amount of discharge varies greatly from woman to woman and can be bulky enough to make your panties wet.

You should only be concerned if there is a sudden change.

For example, if during your entire life the discharge was minimal and suddenly, for two months, the volume is huge, or if you always had to deal with wet panties and suddenly felt dry for long periods, go to the gynecological consultation is recommended.

This applies to any change in the discharge: smell, color, texture, all of which can be a sign that something is different and worth checking.

Likewise, itching or burning can mean infections.

What is the most common cause of white vaginal discharge?

The most common cause of white discharge is ovulation: it happens to basically every woman. However, for pathological discharge, the most common cause is candidiasis .

Does toilet paper cause discharge?

Normally toilet paper does not cause infections, but it is a good idea to avoid those with perfume. The chemicals used to give the paper a fragrant odor can cause vaginal irritation, leading to inflammation.