Leucorrhea (also called Leucorrhoea) is a medical condition where a woman experiences thin and sticky milky white discharge. It is also called as ‘Whites’. Women in their reproductive age are more prone to leucorrhea. Any difference in its color, consistency, and odor is a sign of infection and needs to be treated.
What is Leucorrhea?
Women all over the world at some point in their life experience vaginal discharge called Leucorrhea. It is white, sticky and odorless. Leucorrhea results from the mucus secreted from the walls of the cervix and vagina. Increase in levels of hormones, especially estrogen cause Leucorrhea. The presence of leucorrhea indicates that the vagina is kept clean and is in a healthy condition.
Types of Leucorrhea
There are two main types of leucorrhea:
The white discharge which occurs during puberty, pregnancy and in female infants is called physiological leucorrhea. It is a regular process and has no accompanying symptoms.
Pathological leucorrhea is caused by infections due to bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms which results in the vaginal discharge with a change in the color, consistency, and smell due to infections or diseases of the female reproductive system.
Symptoms of Leukorrhea
Commonly observed symptoms of leukorrhea are:
Physiological Leucorrhea Causes: This type of leucorrhea is caused due to the hormonal changes which occur during puberty and pregnancy. During pregnancy, the amount of discharge may increase. However, it is not something to be worried.
Causes of Pathological Leucorrhea: It is caused due to many factors
o Bacterial Infections: These are caused by Chlamydia and Gardnerella vaginalis. They cause sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea, syphilis and AIDS. Female patients with STDs show abnormal leukorrhea.
o Fungal Infections caused by Candida albicans leads to white and lumpy discharge accompanied by intense itching in the genital region.
o Protozoan Parasite Causing Leucorrhea: Trichomonas vaginalis is a most common cause of leukorrhea. It causes both vaginal discharge and chronic inflammation. It spreads through sexual intercourse. The discharge is profuse, clotted and greenish in color.
o Infection due to Candida albicans and Trichomonas vaginalis is the most common cause of pathological leucorrhea.
o Use of tampons for an extended time duration.
o Wearing of nylon panties.
Prevention of Leucorrhea
When the discharge is too heavy and is not showing the normal characteristics, a woman should consult a gynecologist. The following are some of the precautions to be taken to prevent leucorrhea:
Physiological leucorrhea is normal and generally not a thing of concern. Pathological leucorrhea definitely requires medical attention and needs to be treated to prevent complications.