Leukorrhea is a problem experienced by women past their puberty. It is a perfectly normal condition. But, the amount of discharge, its appearance, and the amount can make you concerned. Some underlying factors can result in thick vaginal discharge or white/yellow color. The problem is common among women of reproductive age. Pregnant women can also see the mild, odorless discharge from the vagina. It keeps the vagina free from bacteria and helps with the birth of the baby. It becomes a cause of concern when you experience foul odor.
Learn About Leukorrhea
The word is derived from both Greek and Latin. Leukos in Greek means white and rhoia (ῥοία) refers to flow or flux. In Latin, it is known as fluor albus, where fluor means to flow. While Albus in Latin means white. In women, a healthy vagina maintains an acidic environment. It is to prevent the development of bacteria and cause infection. So, the vagina produces secretion to flush out the bacteria and cleanse itself. The secretion also regulates the acidic environment. Therefore, in most cases, leukorrhea is a normal and healthy occurrence.
The vaginal condition is common among women who are past their puberty. It usually arrives every month and goes away without any medications. Women who have an active sex life can see severe discharge. But, you may think of it as a sign of infection. It can make you worry. But, the heavy discharge may not always mean an infection. In some people, it is an early pregnancy symptom. You need to observe the discharge closely to see if it changes its appearance or smells off.
Signs of Leukorrhea
In normal cases, the condition may not smell or itch. You can see a copious amount of white discharge. You can see the wetness at times in your underwear. It usually occurs near ovulation. In pregnant women, the increases blood flow to the vaginal region can cause excess discharge. The pregnancy hormone like estrogen is responsible for the phenomenon. When the estrogen hormone increases in your body, you can see more discharge. Pregnant women may feel it as a threat to their pregnancy. But, the white discharge only contains skin cells from the body. You can see the discharge, increasing near the due date. But, certain signs indicate trouble. So, check out for the following abnormal signs:
- Thick yellow/white discharge
- Painful sexual act
- Lower abdominal pain
- Intense itching of your vagina
- Burning during urination
- Pain in your leg
- Pass very little urine
- Tiredness due to loss of fluids (discharges)
- Frothy discharge
- Strong smell
- Sore spots on the genital region
When you see such symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor and get proper treatment.
Types Of Leukorrhea
You can classify the vaginal discharge you experience depending on the underlying reason triggering it. So, the different types of the condition are:
It is a vaginal discharge that causes you no harm. The condition resolves itself after some time without any medical treatment. In most cases, women can experience discharge when the body tries to protect the vagina from external attack. The natural defense mechanism of the vagina helps maintain the chemical balance. So, the discharge can keep the vagina safe and preserve vaginal tissue flexibility. The type of vaginal discharge occurs mostly due to estrogen stimulation. Therefore, the condition is common during the following instances
- Enhanced estrogen levels during pregnancy resulting in increased blood flow to the vagina.
- In-uterine estrogen exposure in female infants for a short time after birth.
As the name suggests, the condition results from inflammation to the vagina.it can also occur due to the congestion of the vaginal canal. The mucous membrane lining the vagina can suffer inflammation. Several underlying problems can trigger the condition. You need to see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis. Uncovering the underlying reason remains the key to good treatment. So, your doctor can use the following tests to diagnose the problem:
- Pap smear test
- Gram stain
- Wet smear test
The factors resulting in the problem are:
The condition is caused by a bacterial infection. The infection can result in discharge having a foul odor. The appearance of the discharge also changes as you can see a yellowish tinge to it. So, aerobic vaginitis can trigger severe vaginal discharge.
Post-Partum Vaginal Discharge
It is the condition observed by new mothers immediately after delivering a child. You can suffer back-ache as an additional symptom. The condition also results in foul-smelling lochia. It is the vaginal discharge you observe after giving birth. It contains blood, placental tissue, and mucus. The abnormal vaginal discharge can indicate towards involution failure. So, the inability of your uterus to return to the pre-pregnancy size can result in severe discharge. It mostly occurs due to the presence of an infection.
This type of leukorrhea develops due to a group of a parasitic protozoan called trichomonas. Specifically, the protozoan called Trichomonas vaginalis can cause infection in the vaginal canal. So, you can observe several symptoms like:
- Burning sensation
- Discharge of mucus (frothy, thick yellow/white)
Causes Of Leukorrhea
A woman’s vagina is an elastic canal. The muscular canal has a lining, which is flexible and soft. It provides the necessary lubrication. It also invokes sensation during sexual acts. The vagina connects to the uterus. The vagina has vulva and labia at its entrance. The cervix of the uterus forms the interior end of the vagina. The soft lining of the vagina is always moist. So, it is prone to infections. When infections affect the cervix, it tends to irritate the mucous glands in the region. So, your body secretes an excess amount of mucus along with pus to flush the bacteria causing infection. The conditions resulting in the abnormal vagina discharge are:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
When you have a sexual relationship with people affected by bacterial, yeast, viral or other parasitic infections, it can spread to you. The transmission of viruses, bacteria or yeast can develop into cervix infection. So, your body can produce an abnormal amount of discharge. People suffering from chlamydia and gonorrhea can see such abnormal vaginal discharge.
Leukorrhea can also occur when you suffer from vaginal inflammation. It is the first signs of vaginitis. The inflammation occurs due to Candida albicans fungus or due to the infection from Trichomonas vaginalis (a protozoan parasite). The infection and inflammation caused due to the organisms can result in irritating discharge. It is quite resistant to treatment. So, you need medical attention to deal with the inflammation.
Irritation From Foreign Objects
A foreign object left in the vagina for too long can cause irritation and infection. Products like tampons or diaphragm keep the bacteria blocked in the vagina. So, it grows quickly and produces toxins, which your body absorbs. It results in vagina discharge as your body tries to flush out the bacteria from the vaginal canal.
Leukorrhea During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is one of the happiest and scariest time in a woman’s life. Bringing a new life into the world can make you feel scared. Your body goes through several changes to accommodate the growing baby. Some signs of pregnancy can make you feel worried. You may wonder if the signs indicate some problem with the baby. Vaginal discharge is one such side-effect of pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body tends to produce elevated levels of estrogen. It produces mucus, which results in leukorrhea. The condition is similar to the one you observe during the monthly menstrual cycle. But, the discharge quantity varies. You can see the vaginal discharge throughout during your pregnancy. It protects the birth canal from any infection. It also supports healthy bacteria growth in the region.
Cause Of Leukorrhea During Pregnancy
As suggested earlier, the increase in estrogen levels results in vaginal discharge. Estrogen hormone increases the blood flow to the pelvic region. The enhanced blood flow stimulates the mucous membranes in the body. It increases vaginal discharge during early pregnancy and in later stages of pregnancy. The vaginal discharge has an important purpose of removing the dead cells from the vaginal region. So, it protects the birth canal from any types of infection. It also helps maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina.
In normal cases, the vaginal discharge looks milky white without any foul smell. When the discharge changes its appearance, consistency or quantity, then it indicates an issue. In early pregnancy, the abnormal discharge indicates infection. While women who are in later stages of pregnancy must see a doctor immediately as the discharge indicate pre-term birth. The clear discharge leaks continuously or becomes jelly-like and thick in abnormal cases.
Treating Leukorrhea During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes several changes. The hormone fluctuations can cause excessive vaginal discharge. It is one of the initial symptoms of early pregnancy. But, excess discharge can make you feel concerned. So, you need to convey the information to your gynecologist during checkups. The doctor can suggest some tips to deal with abnormal vaginal discharge during pregnancy:
- Bath regularly and clean the vaginal area. Keeping it clean and dry will prevent the growth of bacteria.
- Wear underpants of breathable fabrics like cotton. It promotes air circulation and keeps the area fresh and dry.
- If the vaginal discharge causes you discomfort, then wear pads or panty liners. It absorbs the excess discharge and keeps you more comfortable.
- Avoid using tampons to absorb the discharge. It only introduces germs into the vaginal region.
- You must never use douches. Leave them at the drugstore as they tend to upset the natural balance in the vagina. The imbalance of microorganisms in the vagina results in bacterial vaginosis.
- The vagina has self-cleaning capabilities. So, it is not necessary to use wipes to clean the area. Wipes tend to change the pH in the vagina. Therefore, it increases the risk of infection.
- Try to use products that are pH safe. You must never use products that contain alcohol or other chemicals. It tends to cause irritation and other problems.
Medications For Leukorrhea During Pregnancy
If the problem is severe, then your doctor can prescribe antibiotics that are safe during pregnancy. You can take the following oral medications:
Clindamycin is the medicine that you need to insert vaginally to see effects. The medication has side effects. Therefore, you need to talk to your doctor about it.
Signs Of Leukorrhea Indicating Serious Problem During Pregnancy
It is common for women to experience vaginal discharge during pregnancy. You never have to become concerned about it. But, the annoying problem can make you worry. You need to see a doctor immediately when you see the following signs
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Heavy vaginal discharge
- Chunky appearance
- Copious (large quantity) of discharge
The change in the appearance of the discharge causing concerns
It indicates the presence of infection and requires further investigation. Experiencing leukorrhea can indicate the presence of STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) or BV (Bacterial vaginosis). The condition in early pregnancy requires immediate attention. Ignoring it can lead to miscarriage or other issues with the unborn baby. In the late stages of pregnancy, the discharge can point towards pre-term labor.
The vaginal discharge is a normal occurrence. So, you can overlook the problem. But, when the discharge has a foul smell to it or has heavy discoloration, then you need to see a doctor. In some cases, it is normal. Young females can experience discharge before their puberty. It is an indication that your menses will begin soon. But, in others, it can signify the presence of vaginal infection or a sexually transmitted disease. It is a serious issue for pregnant women. So, if you experience the vaginal discharge during pregnancy, you need to see the gynecologist immediately. Your doctor can perform tests to detect the severity of the problem.
Your doctor performs a pelvic examination to check for any abnormal cysts, lumps or tumors. During the pelvic examination, your doctor can take a sample of vaginal fluid and send it to the lab.
The vaginal fluid is tested under the microscope to detect the WBC. WBC >10 indicates the presence of leukorrhea.
In some cases, hormonal imbalance can result in excess vaginal discharge. So, your doctor sends a sample of your blood for testing. Most of the hormones are easily detected in the blood. The doctor checks for the following hormones to see if you suffer from any imbalance:
- Thyroid tests
- Cortisol levels
To rule the possibility of cysts or tumors in the uterus, your doctor uses ultrasound images to make a diagnosis. The ultrasound testing can provide images of the uterus and ovaries using sound waves. So, it can help diagnose any abnormal growths or problems in the female reproductive system.
Treatment For Leukorrhea
Treatment for the condition depends on the underlying cause. In some simple cases, the condition resolves itself without any medical treatment. But, if you see signs of your vaginal discharge changing color or appearance, then you need to see a doctor. It is also important to see a physician when the amount of discharge increases. For simple cases, you can try some home remedies.
Home Remedies For Leukorrhea
You can take some steps at home to shorten the duration of the discharge. These steps also ensure the condition does not escalate.
Maintaining proper hygiene not only prevents worsening of the problem but also avoids it from occurring again. Therefore, follow the pointers suggested below to keep the vaginal region clean and healthy:
- You need to allow your genital area to breathe. It will prevent the buildup of bacteria triggering the abnormal vaginal discharge. So, try not to wear dirty or synthetic panties.
- Staying in wet or damp underwear or swim clothes can make the area vulnerable to bacterial growth. So, change your undergarments immediately to prevent problems.
- Wear pads on the panties or use panty liners to avoid the underwear becoming wet. It is for people who experience a large amount of normal discharge.
- Washing the undergarments is necessary to prevent bacterial accumulation. Use irritant-free soap/detergent to wash the panties. It removes dirt as well as bacteria.
- You need to keep the vaginal region clean by washing it with scent-free, dye-free soap (glycerin soap). But, never over-wash as it can lead to heavier vaginal discharge or infection.
Eat A Balanced Diet
You need to include a balanced diet. Eating foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals can keep you healthy. Here are some tips to ensure you eat healthily:
- Add fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Avoid processed foods
- Include a low-sugar diet
These tips can help you strengthen the immune system and ensure healthy functioning.
You need to drink water to flush out the toxins from the body. It is significant to drink at least eight to ten glasses of water. Drinking water will ensure the absorption of nutrients from your diet.
This herbal supplement is available at many health food stores and has been shown to help promote good reproductive health.
Medical Treatment To Alleviate Leukorrhea
If the home remedies remain ineffective, then you need medical help to deal with the condition. The treatment option depends on the underlying cause. In most cases, infection or inflammation triggers the copious amount of vaginal discharge. So, your doctor suggests antibiotics to reduce the symptoms. The antibiotics will kill the bacteria triggering the issue. But, some antibiotics can worsen the problem. Metronidazole is the most common medication used to treat leukorrhea. Your doctor prescribes single or multiple doses of the medication to alleviate the problem.
Leukorrhea is a universal problem affecting all women at some point in their life. It is common among sexually active women compared to others. You can also experience the problem during pregnancy. The female genital region is always moist, covered, and sweaty. So, you have more chances of developing infections or other issues. In most cases, you may not suffer any health issues due to the condition. But, in some cases, the foul smell can cause embarrassment and prevent you from attending social gatherings. You can seek professional help to deal with the problem. It is important to see a doctor when you experience abnormal vaginal discharge during pregnancy. By following the guidance from your doctor, it is possible to manage the condition with ease.View Article Sources