Leukorrhea is a fairly common form of vaginal discharge, especially early in pregnancy. It usually is thin and white and harmless. But, there can be instances where this fluid is a sign of something gone wrong and warrants further medical attention. To help you know the difference between when it’s cause for concern and when it’s normal, this post will cover:
- What is leukorrhea?
- When is it normal to have this white vaginal discharge?
- Is leukorrhea one of the early pregnancy signs?
- When should I see a doctor for leukorrhea?
What is leukorrhea?
Leukorrhea is a type of milky white vaginal discharge that is thin and could have a mild odor. It typically does not come with itching or strong foul odor.
It is normal to have up to a teaspoon’s worth of leukorrhea every day. Vaginal flora help make this white fluid, which helps maintain an acidic pH in the vagina and prevents other harmful pathogens from thriving. So, this discharge is a good thing! Don’t use vaginal wipes or douches because these can disturb your vaginal discharge from doing its thing.
When is it normal to have this white vaginal discharge?
Because white vaginal discharge can sometimes seem like an infection, like a yeast infection, it’s important to know when it’s normal to experience leukorrhea and when it’s a problem.
Leukorrhea is normal when you’re experiencing major changes in hormones like estrogen, so you might notice more of this discharge around the time of ovulation or early in pregnancy. And if you’re interested in figuring out when you ovulate, cycle tracking can help.)
You may notice leukorrhea as wetness in your underwear, so if you want to use panty liners for managing it, that’s definitely fine. But, don’t use tampons if you see this discharge because this can introduce new germs into the vagina.
This white discharge is not normal if it comes with itching or odor. In these cases, it’s possible you have an infection. The most common vaginal infection is a yeast infection, but sometimes foul discharge can be a sign of bacterial infection or a sexually transmitted disease. Talk to your doctor so you can get the right diagnosis and the treatment.
Is leukorrhea one of the early pregnancy signs?
While leukorrhea can happen during the menstrual cycle due to changes in the hormone estradiol, it’s most commonly associated with pregnancy discharge. It can be tempting to examine your cervical mucus for changes in white discharge as one of the first signs of pregnancy. But changes in vaginal discharge are not a reliable indicator of pregnancy.
The increase in pregnancy-related leukorrhea usually happens later in the first trimester or early second trimester—weeks after you would be able to get a positive pregnancy tests. So don’t expect to gain any meaningful insight from your discharge during the two-week wait.
When to see a doctor about leukorrhea?
Leaking any vaginal fluid, whether it’s brown discharge, bright red spotting, or white discharge, can understandably cause some worry. But, leukorrhea is usually harmless and common to see during your cycle and when you’re pregnant. However, if you ever observe any of these additional symptoms, it’s important to see your health care provider:
- Itching or burning
- Change in odor
- Yellow or green tint
- More discharge than usual
- Pain in the pelvis or legs
If you’re trying to get pregnant and notice this discharge, talk to your doctor about receiving treatment soon because infections are causes of miscarriage.
If you’re already pregnant, leukorrhea is a part of normal pregnancy discharge, if you notice any major changes in consistency or amount, let your doctor know. If the discharge starts to have a foul odor or has the consistency of yeast infection, definitely see your doctor so that you can get the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.