What Does a White Discharge Before Menstruation Mean?

A white discharge before menstruation is a sign of good reproductive health. Therefore, it shouldn't cause any concern. But some signs may warn of a problem.
What Does a White Discharge Before Menstruation Mean?

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 18 July, 2022

A white discharge before menstruation is considered a completely normal occurrence. It’s due to hormonal changes inherent to the menstrual cycle. It shouldn’t be a cause for concern unless other unusual characteristics accompany it.

Vaginal discharge is present throughout the month and changes as the cycle progresses. A white discharge before menstruation is one such common change.

In the days leading up to your period, or during pregnancy, progesterone levels increase. This is what causes the whitish appearance of the discharge.

What is a normal white discharge like?

A white vaginal discharge is known as leukorrhea and is composed of fluid and bacteria from the vagina. It occurs normally every day, but has some changes during ovulation, and before and after menstruation.

Leucorrhea is considered to be either normal or pathological. The name only defines the color of the discharge. Other signs and circumstances will determine whether there’s a disorder or not.

It’s normal to have a white discharge before menstruation. The rest of the month, this discharge is white or clear, but more liquid in consistency. Before the period it becomes creamy and thick.

It’s also normal for this type of discharge to have a light yellowish tint. It usually appears just before menstruation, but it’s also possible to have it a few days before. If it’s normal, there’ll be no symptoms such as pain, itching or itching in the area.

The causes of a white discharge before menstruation

A white discharge before menstruation is usually a normal effect of the menstrual cycle, as we have already explained. However, it’s also possible for it to be a consequence of a disorder (pathological leucorrhea).

Menstrual cycle

The basic cause of a white discharge before menstruation is the hormones of the menstrual cycle. The increased production of progesterone causes the discharge to become thicker and cloudy or whitish. This happens both at the beginning of the period and at the end.

This type of discharge is white in color and has a creamy consistency. It has no odor and isn’t accompanied by other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, itching or similar discomfort.

A woman talking about menstruation.
Physiological leucorrhea is considered a sign of normality in any woman’s regular cycle.

Hormonal contraceptives

The use of hormonal contraceptives can cause the vaginal discharge to change, making it thicker and whiter. This happens because of changes in the concentration of substances in the body. It’s more common for this to occur when a woman starts taking a new contraceptive.

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is another cause of white discharge before menstruation. In this case, there’s also a foul odor, similar to fish, and itching or burning when urinating.

The discharge may have a greenish or grayish tint. It occurs when there’s an imbalance in the bacteria present in the vagina.

Candidiasis

Candidiasis is a fungal infection, i.e. caused by fungi. In particular, by the action of the fungus Candida albicans.

It is estimated that up to 75% of women experience it once in their lives. In addition to a white discharge, it causes redness, itching and burning in the vaginal area.

Vaginitis

Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina and cervix. It’s caused by fungi, bacteria or other microorganisms.

One of the symptoms is a white discharge before menstruation, which is accompanied by an unpleasant odor, swelling, and red or white dots on the mucous membrane of the vagina or on the cervix. The latter can only be seen by a physician with a colposcopy.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)

Almost all sexually transmitted diseases cause changes in the color and texture of vaginal discharge. This may turn white or yellowish, sometimes with a very unpleasant odor.

The most common infections are chlamydiasis, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis. Sometimes there are other accompanying symptoms, such as itching, pain or bleeding outside of menstruation.

Pregnancy

Sometimes, a white discharge before menstruation is a sign of pregnancy. In this case. there’s also a large increase in progesterone and this causes the characteristics of the discharge to change. There’s no odor, but the discharge is a thicker texture than usual.

What to do about the white discharge?

As we have already indicated, a white discharge before menstruation is normal and, therefore, doesn’t require any treatment. What can be done is to have regular care practices to prevent discomfort or associated diseases.

Many experts recommend the use of probiotic supplements to promote and maintain a healthy vaginal flora.

The following measures are advisable:

  • Good hygiene. The genital area should remain clean and dry.
  • Cotton underwear. Synthetic fibers promote vaginal infections.
  • Wiping from front to back. This prevents bacteria from passing from the anus to the vagina.
  • Avoid douching. Douching can increase the risk of infection.
  • Avoid scented vaginal products. Deodorants or scented wipes sometimes cause irritation.
  • Practice safe sex. Using a condom prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
A tampon.
Tampons promote urinary tract infections, which could lead to vaginitis and changes in discharge.

When to see a doctor?

The presence of a white discharge before menstruation is only cause for medical consultation if it persists or is accompanied by bothersome symptoms. The main signs that there may be a health problem are as follows:

  • Pelvic pain, when urinating or during sex
  • Pain or burning in or near the vagina
  • Foamy or clumpy discharge
  • Sores or a rash
  • Bleeding
  • A foul odor

Most women experience some type of vaginal infection in their lifetime. One of the signs are changes in secretions, so it’s important to be aware of any changes.

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  • Sánchez-Hernández, J. A., Castellanos-Vázquez, S., & Rivera-Tapia, J. A. (2013). Leucorrea como signo de infecciones cérvicovaginales. Revista Costarricense de Salud Pública, 22(1), 56-60.
  • Síntomas, A. Z. Picazón y flujo vaginal en mujeres adultas y adolescentes.
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