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What is the Cause of Thick White Milky/Creamy Discharge?

For any woman of reproductive age presence of vaginal discharge is considered a norm. Physiological vaginal discharge (i.e. natural for a healthy organism) may be mucous, watery, fluid, whitish, thick milky/creamy or slightly cream-colored or yellowish.

How does the vaginal discharge production work?

Vaginal discharge features a complex multiunit environment. It is composed of the following components:

- mucous secrete, produced by cervical glands;

- «thickened» epithelial cells of the vagina;

- fluid components of blood and the lymph, which permeates through the vessel walls and the endometrial lining into the vaginal lumen (it is the basic component of vaginal leucorrhoea);

- the secrete, produced by vulval vestibule glands;

- bacteria, which normally inhabit the vagina;

- the secrete, produced by endometrial glands in the uterine cavity, that leaks down to the vagina;

- there is still some seminal fluid or lubrication ( in case of using a preservative) in the vaginal discharge following an intercourse .

The colorand consistency of vaginal discharge is defined by the ration of the following components, present in it: mucous (secrete of cervical glands), cellular (thickened epithelial cells, leucocytes, bacteria), fluid (blood fluid, permeating through the vessel walls). The prevalence of any of these components in the leucorrhoea is controlled by sex steroids. For example, high content of estrogen at ovulation contributes to intensive production and dissolution of cervical mucous secrete. At that a woman will observe profuse watery and mucous discharge in the middle of the cycle.

In what cases is thick milky vaginal discharge considered physiological?

1. Approximately 1-2 weeks prior to period the vaginal secrete becomes thicker and milky white.

Let us examine the reasons that lead to the appearance of such leucorrhoea in details. A female’s menstrual cycle is regulated by two hormones named estrogen and progesterone. The influence of these hormones over the vaginal mucous lining may be quite different: the first hormone stimulates the growth of the epithelium and production of clear watery cervical mucus, while the second one contributes to the necrosis and intensified thickening of endometrial cells, increasing the stickiness of the cervical secrete. During the second stage of the menstrual cycle (2 weeks prior to the period) the prevailing role belongs to progesterone. At that, the mucous content of the vagina is rich in epithelial cells and leucocytes, which determines the milky white coloring of discharge.

2. Some women observe thick, creamy vaginal discharge a few days prior to the period and for 3-4 days after it. At this point the level of sex hormones is minimal. Cells of the vaginal mucous lining rapidly die away and exfoliate due to the lack of steroids. Thus, the leucorrhoea acquires a milky coloring and thick consistency.

3. After implantation the amount of vaginal discharge becomes more significant, it thickens and may acquire a milky white color. This has to do with the circumstance that in the first months of pregnancy the endocrine profile will be close to one, the woman has in the second phase of the menstrual cycle.

4. Milky vaginal discharge persists throughout the whole menstrual cycle in case of women, who suffer from hormonal infertility. Such patients constantly have a low level of sex steroids, which leads to intensive necrosis of endometrial cells. Such a nature of leucorrhoea throughout the whole cycle testifies to too weak estrogen influence, which eventually leads to absence of ovulation.

5. Thick creamy discharge is often observed in women, who take hormonal birth control pills. In some cases, especially during the first months of taking such contraceptives, vaginal secrete may acquire either creamy or slightly brown coloring. Hormonal contraceptives artificially suppress the natural level of sex hormones and thus lead to absence of ovulation. Therefore, the nature of leucorrhoea in such women will be similar to the one, which is observed in case of hormonal infertility.

6. Profuse clear watery discharge or whitish secrete are observed during the first 1-2 days after an unprotected sexual intercourse (such discharge will contain vaginal lubrication, mucous secrete from the uterine cervix, as well as seminal fluid).

7. In case a preservative was used during the intercourse, the discharge will be thick a few days after sex. It may also be marked with a creamy color. In this case the nature of discharge will change due to the abundance of affected epithelial cells and “foamed” proteins of the vaginal secrete.

Milky white vaginal discharge does not constitute a symptom of any disease and in many cases it has a physiological nature. However, in case such leucorrhoea are accompanied by inflammatory symptoms (pain, itching, urination disorders, etc.) this can point to the development of certain diseases.