Leukorrhea is also called Leucorrhoea and is a medical condition where a woman undergoes white, thin and sticky vaginal discharge. It is also called ‘Whites’. It is observed globally in women of reproductive age. Any variation in its colour, consistency and odour is an indication of infection and needs to be treated right away.
What is Leukorrhea?
Women all over the world at some point in their life encounter vaginal discharge called Leukorrhea. It is white (or clear), thin (or thick), sticky and odourless. Leukorrhea appears from the mucus secreted from the walls of the cervix and vagina. It is caused by the rise in levels of hormones, especially estrogen. The appearance of leukorrhea indicates that the vagina is kept clean and is in healthy condition. Vaginal discharge is formed secreted from vagina and cervix along with old cells and common bacterial flora of the vagina.
Some women experience leukorrhea more often than others. Although, leukorrhea is common and considered normal to befall; however, many women spot it scary and is uncomfortable. Further, women are ashamed of this condition with their peers and physician. Hence, leukorrhea becomes a challenge.
Types of Leukorrhea
There are two main types of leukorrhea:
The white discharge which befalls during puberty, pregnancy and in female infants is called physiological leukorrhea. It is a normal process and has no accompanying symptoms.
- Leukorrhea during Puberty: It begins in the generative age (puberty) within some months to a year after the onset of the girl’s menses. Leukorrhea occurs between girl’s menstrual cycles and lasts for a few days to weeks. Vagina provides a lot more watery or sticky discharge during ovulation.
- Leukorrhea during Pregnancy: Leukorrhea is normal in pregnancy due to the increase in the levels of estrogen hormone and changes in the walls of the cervix. It is seen around the start of the second trimester (at 13 weeks) and increases as the pregnancy progress. It offers security to the birth canal from infections and allows growth of healthy bacteria in the vagina.
- Newborn Infants: Leukorrhea is viewed in new-born female infants for the initial one to two months after their birth. This is due to intra-uterine susceptibility to estrogen when the infant was in the womb.
Vaginal discharge with a change in the colour, consistency and smell due to infections or diseases of the female reproductive system is called pathological type of leukorrhea. The discharge of yellow or green colour with an unpleasant odour is abnormal and alarming. In addition, it is often characterised by pain and swelling around labia. Pathological leukorrhea is caused by germs due to bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms. Female genitals are wet and covered for most of the time. Further, sweat in this area is normal, which makes the female genitals more likely to infection and inflammation. Pathological leukorrhea needs immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of Leukorrhea
Commonly observed symptoms of leukorrhea are:
- Change in colour, consistency and odour. Yellow or green, thick, milky discharge with a bad odour
- Persistent and abundant vaginal discharge
- Pain during micturition
- Pain in the pelvic region and calves
- Lethargy and weakness
- Itching in the genital region
- Spot on the undergarments
Physiological leukorrhea is common and generally not a thing of concern. Pathological leukorrhea definitely needs medical attention and needs to be treated to prevent complications.
If you are experiencing any unusual type of vaginal discharge at any time, you should see a health professional and not try any over-the-counter treatments or home remedies by yourself.