Wondering what the white creamy discharge in your underwear means? There are several totally normal causes of white, creamy discharge, as well as a few causes of thick white creamy discharge that need medical attention. In this quick guide, we’ll go over some of the most common causes of white creamy vaginal discharge and help you figure out if you need to see a doctor.
What Does Creamy White Discharge Mean?
Vaginal discharge is a normal part of your vagina’s self-cleaning processes. While strange-smelling, itchy, or unusual vaginal discharge can be a sign that something is wrong, there’s a wide range of “normal” when it comes to vaginal discharge. So don’t assume that just because you’ve never seen a thick white creamy discharge before that it means something it wrong!
White creamy discharge is often just a sign of hormonal shifts in your body of some kind or another. In some cases, when accompanied by other symptoms, it maybe a sign of infection.
Totally Normal Causes of White Creamy Discharge
Following are four benign reasons you might be seeing a white creamy vaginal discharge:
Your Period is About To Start
In the days leading up to your period, your discharge will likely become thick, white, and sticky due to hormonal changes and the increased production of mucus from the cervix. So a creamy white vaginal discharge is normal at this point in your cycle.
When you’re aroused, you’ll produce increased quantities of clear, slippery discharge. However, once you orgasm, the vagina may produce a thick, creamy white discharge.
Additionally, if you have unprotected penis-in-vagina intercourse, you may actually discharge some semen within the next day or so. This may manifest as a strange white creamy discharge.
Increased quantities of a white creamy discharge is one of the earliest pregnancy signs. You may continue to have thick white creamy discharge for the duration of pregnancy. This discharge is caused by elevated estrogen levels and it helps keep the vagina free of infection.
Anything that has a big impact on your body overall can also impact your vaginal discharge. This means that making major lifestyle changes like dramatically changing your diet or starting a new exercise regime can also change your vaginal discharge. So can stress, which can cause big shifts in your hormones. If you’re seeing white creamy discharge for the first time, consider whether you’ve been under unusual stress or made a major lifestyle change recently.
Worrisome Causes of White Creamy Discharge
Sometimes, when it’s accompanied by other symptoms, creamy white vaginal discharge is due to infection. Here are the main culprits:
Yeast infections cause a distinctive “cottage-cheese” discharge. So if your thick white creamy discharge is lumpy or clumpy, you probably have a yeast infection. Other symptoms of a yeast infection include severe itching, painful urination, pain with intercourse, and red/irritated skin around the vulva.
Yeast infections can be treated over the counter, but unless you’re 100% positive it’s a yeast infection, it’s best to go to the doctor for a confirmed diagnosis or else you’ll delay getting the treatment you actually need.
Gonorrhea is an STI. Infection with gonorrhea can cause increased quantities of greenish-yellow or white discharge. There may be blood in the discharge (so it may even be pinkish).
Most people with gonorrhea are totally asymptomatic, which is why it’s so important to get regular STD tests. If you do develop symptoms, it will probably be within two weeks of exposure.
In addition to the discharge, other symptoms of gonorrhea include burning with urination, frequent urge to urinate, pain in the abdomen, and pain or swelling in the vulva.
If you suspect you may have gonorrhea, go to a doctor ASAP for testing. Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics but can have long-term complications if left untreated. Your sexual partners should also be treated to avoid reinfection.
Another common STI that can cause white creamy discharge is chlamydia. Discharge from chlamydia may be yellowish or milky-white, and it is typically smelly.
Like gonorrhea, chlamydia is frequently asymptomatic. If you do develop symptoms, it will most likely be within one-three weeks from exposure. Other symptoms of chlamydia include pain in the abdomen or back, pain with sex, pain with urination, frequent urge to urinate, spotting between periods, and blood in your urine.
If you suspect that you may have chlamydia, go to the doctor to get treated ASAP to avoid long-term complications. Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. Make sure that any sexual partners are also treated to avoid reinfection.
The Bottom Line on Creamy White Vaginal Discharge
White creamy vaginal discharge may seem alarming, but it’s probably totally normal. Hormonal shifts, sex, and lifestyle changes can all cause benign changes in your vaginal discharge, leading to a creamy white vaginal discharge.
However, if your discharge is accompanied by any pain, itching, or urinary symptoms, it could be a sign of infection. The most likely infections to cause a thick, white creamy discharge is are yeast infections, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.