White Creamy or Milky Discharge: What Does It Mean?

White Creamy or Milky Discharge - Causes and When to Worry
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White milky discharge or white creamy discharge is completely normal and helps to keep vaginal tissues healthy and free from infections. Normal milky discharge from the vagina changes in consistency during your menstrual period and has no odor. The vaginal discharge can range from clear and watery during ovulation to milky white and sticky at other times. Pregnancy and sexual arousal can also cause an increase in white discharge.

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Any kind of change in consistency, color, and smell of the milky discharge from the vagina could be a sign of a vaginal infection. For example, fungal and bacterial infections can cause the white milky discharge to turn yellow, green, or brown. In some cases, the white creamy discharge could become lumpy if there is a yeast infection in the vagina. Abnormal vaginal discharge is often accompanied by a strong-smelling odor, itching, pain, and swelling around the labia.

In this article, you will learn about why normal vaginal discharge is milky white in color. You will also find out when white creamy discharge is a sign of an infection that requires treatment with either home remedies or medications from a doctor.

Why There is White Milky or Creamy Discharge?

A healthy vagina excretes a white milky discharge which can change during your monthly menstrual cycle. As long as there is no odor and you don’t have symptoms like pain, an itchy vaginal area, or redness and swelling, you have no cause for concern.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, the white milky discharge is a combination of fluid (mucus) and cells. The function of the whitish discharge is to protect your vagina from irritation and infection. Normal vaginal discharge has no odor. The amount, consistency, and color of vaginal discharge can range from a thin, clear watery fluid to a thick creamy white discharge with a sticky feel.1

Causes of Milky or Creamy Discharge

First of all, let’s look at causes of normal milky or creamy white vaginal discharge.

Ovulation

During ovulation, your cervix produces mucus that is of an egg white consistency and color. This helps the sperm to find the egg for conception and can be a sign when you are most fertile.

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The American Pregnancy Association, says that an increase in estrogen hormone levels causes the milky or creamy ovulation discharge. This is also called “egg white cervical mucus,” or EWCM for short. This whitish clear sticky discharge creates the perfect environment for conceiving.2

If you notice that you regularly have pale milky white discharge around 12 to 14 days before your period, this could just be a sign that you are ovulating.

Pregnancy

An early sign of pregnancy is a milky white discharge from your vagina. During this time, you may also notice spotting before your period and have abdominal cramps (implantation cramps), which are sometimes mistaken for menstrual cramps.

Dr. Trina Pagano on WebMD says that the white milky discharge occurs because the walls of the vagina thicken in preparation for pregnancy.3

During the whole course of your pregnancy, you will probably have white vaginal discharge. This is called leukorrhea and is completely normal during pregnancy. The website, WhatToExpect.com says that the discharge is caused by the mucous membrane being more active during pregnancy. The white discharge usually starts from your second trimester and gradually gets thicker in consistency (creamy discharge) as your pregnancy progresses. The purpose of the thick creamy discharge is to protect your vagina from infection.4

If you notice changes in the color or smell of the discharge – for example, if the discharge turns from white to brown, green, or yellow, you should talk with your healthcare advisor. However, the American Pregnancy Association says that some light spotting during the first trimester of pregnancy is normal.5

Stress

Another reason for experiencing a white creamy discharge is being under extreme emotional or psychological stress. Although it’s not known exactly why the creamy discharge happens, scientists have linked psychological distress with an increase in white vaginal mucus production.

A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology reported that psychological pathways can affect the reproductive system of some women. In the study, one-third of women examined, attributed their discharge to stress and anxiety.6 Although the study mentioned that there could be other factors causing the white discharge, they said that more research needs to be done on the link between stress and vaginal health.

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Another way that stress can affect your body is by releasing hormones which can affect your immune system and interfere with your menstrual cycle. These factors could all combine to disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in your vagina and cause thick milky discharge.

If you would like to find some natural ways to relieve stress, then please read my articles on natural remedies for anxiety and stress and the best essential oils for anxiety and stress.

Menopause

Women who are in the perimenopausal stage of life (the time leading up to the menopause) may experience irregular vaginal discharge. This is because of changes in hormone levels and irregular periods.

According to Dr. Jack D. Sobel, a professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine, women who are menopausal usually only have very minimal discharge.7 More often than not, yellow-white vaginal discharge in the menopause is as a result of an infection.8

Menstrual cycle

If you notice occasional white creamy or milky discharge before or after your period, then it could just be part of your regular menstrual cycle. Doctors from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation say that creamy white discharge is common at the start and end of your menstrual cycle.13

The best way to know if the thick white discharge is normal for you is to regularly monitor and observe your monthly cycle.

Infections that Cause White Creamy Discharge

Abnormal white milky discharge may have a consistency like cottage cheese, change color, or have a strong odor. Here are common reasons for irregular white discharge.

Yeast infection

A white lumpy creamy discharge with no odor is one of the symptoms of Candidiasis, one of the most common types of vaginal infections. Candidiasis is caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus that naturally occurs in the vagina. Along with the thick white creamy discharge, you may have vaginal itching and burning in the vulva and notice swelling around the vulva.

Doctors at WebMD say that factors that can cause candida fungus to overgrow are using antibiotics, having high estrogen levels, diabetes, a poor immune system, or being overweight. The yeast infection results in white, clumpy odorless discharge from the vagina. This is more likely to occur just before your menstrual period.9

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There are many natural home remedies to get rid of a yeast infection. For example, coconut oil contains antifungal properties that can help to reduce the number of fungi. Another natural remedy for Candidiasis is apple cider vinegar. The acidic properties of apple cider vinegar help to balance the pH levels in the vagina and reduce itching. Also consuming yogurt containing live bacteria can help to restore the normal bacteria balance in the body and treat vaginal yeast infections.

Bacterial infection

If the delicate balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted, you could develop bacterial vaginosis (BV) which produces a milky discharge with a strong odor. There can be a number of reasons why you get bacterial vaginosis. This could be caused by over-washing the genital area, using bubble bath, or have recently changed your sexual partner.

According to Dr. Tim Kenny on Patient.info, bacterial vaginosis will produce a whitish-gray colored discharge with a fishy smell.10 You may have a lot of this discharge and the infection could cause vaginal burning.

Bacterial infections with painful milky-grey discharge could also be a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). For example, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause vaginal discharge and a burning sensation when you urinate.

You can treat mild cases of bacterial vaginosis at home. Some of the best natural treatments for BV are probiotics to boost vaginal health, tea tree oil to kill off the harmful bacteria causing the discharge, or coconut oil for its antibacterial properties.

Frequently Asked Questions About White Creamy or Milky Discharge

Because discharge that is white and creamy or milky is very common and has many reasons, here are answers to many questions about white creamy discharge.

Does white milky discharge have an odor?

Usually Not. Creamy or milky white discharge shouldn’t have a distinct odor, even if it is caused by a yeast infection. Doctors from the National Health Service say that normal discharge is clear or white and isn’t smelly. However if you notice discharge that has a distinct smell and is thick white or yellowish, this is probably a sign of a bacterial infection.

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Why do I have excessive white clumpy discharge?

If you have excessive white clumpy discharge, there are a number of conditions that can cause it. For example, as already mentioned above, yeast infections can cause thick white discharge that looks like cottage cheese.

However, some women experience white heavy thick discharge without infections. Doctors from The National Health Service say that you may experience heavier discharge during pregnancy, if you are sexually active, or are using birth control.11

Is white creamy or milky discharge before period normal?

Yes. Many women experience white creamy or milky discharge before their period. According to The Palo Alto Medical Foundation, before ovulation your body produces a lot of cervical mucus. This discharge tends to become thicker if you didn’t conceive and you may notice thick whitish discharge on your underwear.13

Is creamy white or milky discharge after period normal?

Yes, it is. Many physicians say that some women experience white creamy or milky discharge after period as part of normal hormonal shifts.

However, if you have a bacterial infection, Dr. Mary Harding says that white discharge caused by bacterial vaginosis will be heavier and thicker just after your period.14 If you notice a thick clumpy white discharge, then it could also be a sign of a yeast infection.

What does white creamy discharge after sex mean?

There might be some situations when you notice creamy or milky white discharge after having sex. For example, Dr. Cynthia White on MedlinePlus says that sexual arousal can increase the amount of mucus your cervix excretes.15  However, if you have a bacterial infection, you may notice heavier white discharge after sex.10

Is white creamy or milky discharge normal during pregnancy?

Yes. It is completely normal to have creamy white discharge during your pregnancy. According to the National Health Service, during the last week of pregnancy your discharge will become much thicker and you may also notice some blood in the thick white mucus. This happens as the mucus from your cervix comes away in preparation for giving birth.16

When to See a Doctor about Milky Discharge

White vaginal discharge is normal in women and it is necessary for a healthy vagina. Abnormal discharge is a discharge that is brown, green, yellow, or cloudy and has a strong odor. Also, abnormal white odorless discharge is thick and clumpy like cottage cheese.

You should see your doctor if you have the following symptoms along with your vaginal discharge:

  • The discharge is any color other than white.
  • You have itching and/or swelling around the vulva, labia, or vaginal opening.
  • Your discharge has a strong smell.
  • You have pain in the vagina and/or painful sexual intercourse.
  • A burning sensation when urinating.

Read my other related articles

1. The Top 9 Home Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
2. How to Get Rid of Vaginal Odor: The Best Natural Remedies
3. The Best Foods To Improve Your Vaginal Health
4. Swollen Vaginal Area: Causes and Natural Treatments
5. The Top 10 Home Remedies for Vaginal Itching

Article Sources:

  1. MayoClinic. Vaginal discharge.
  2. AmericanPregnancy. Getting pregnant.
  3. WebMD. Pregnancy symptoms.
  4. WhatToExpect. Vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
  5. AmericanPregnancy. Spotting during pregnancy.
  6. J. Epidemiol. (August 2005) 34 (4): 862-863.
  7. UpToDate. Vaginal discharge in adult women.
  8. HealthDirect. Vaginal discharge.
  9. WebMD. Vaginal yeast infections.
  10. PatientInfo. Bacterial vaginosis.
  11. NHS. Vaginal discharge.
  12. WebMD. Vaginal yeast infections.
  13. PAMF. Vaginal discharge.
  14. PatientInfo. Bacterial vaginosis.
  15. MedlinePlus. Vaginal itching and discharge.
  16. NHS. Vaginal discharge and pregnancy.
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34 Responses to White Creamy or Milky Discharge: What Does It Mean?

  1. Vanessa Mackson says:

    what if I’am having a white milky discharge with odor, itching, swelling and painful urination.
    it’s a symptom of what,and treatment??

    • Jenny Hills says:

      It might be Bacterial vaginosis – see natural treatments HERE. You can try home remedies, but it’s best to treat it at the first signs of the infection. If your condition is already advanced, it’s better to visit your doctor.

    • Tameka says:

      I am very concerned I have an milky white discharge coming from out of my vagina it has no smell to it I don’t think that’s normal to me it’s been on for about a week now I thought it was going to away but it didn’t seems like it gotten worse exspecially when I wake up in the morning to go to the bathroom I’m so afraid it could be something serious I made an doctor appointment hope they can Tell me something soon

  2. Barbie says:

    I have a creamy whitish thick odourless discharge with a little itching. Could this be candida? What do I do pls

  3. Mariakayi says:

    Am having a discharge that is watery I wouldn’t say its all that white it has a little creamish colour to it. It has a smell but not fishy or stink I would not say it ithes I have no swelling or anything like that. Am I OK? Can it be a infection building up?

    • Jenny Hills says:

      As long as there is no bad odor and you don’t have symptoms like pain, itchiness, or redness and swelling, you have no cause for concern.

  4. Deborah says:

    Am having a watery creamy discharge and it has an odor.I had an infection before which made me to have this clumpy discharge before.what does the watery creamy discharge mean?

    • Jenny Hills says:

      If you have additional symptoms such as itching and burning sensation you may have yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (a strong odor usually indicates bacterial vaginosis). You can have a look at my article about home remedies for bacterial vaginosis. If the symptoms continue or become worse, you will need to go to your doctor.

  5. Prisca says:

    hi. i have a milky creamy discharge and has a bad smell. it started just after my periods and it’s been a week now, i don’t have cramps and it’s not itchy

  6. Lerato says:

    hi,i have an itching thick white discharge, which causes swelling after sexual intercaus,pls help

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Unfortunately I’m unable to give a specific advice because I’m not a doctor. I believe that if you are concerned from any reason, it’s best to see your doctor who knows your medical history and can provide a professional diagnosis.

  7. Agaba mary says:

    i have white creamy discharge that smells,its itchy with burning sensation.but i just finished an antibiotic(augmentin) this morning..could it still be bacteria infection or fungal…

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Antibiotics are antibacterial medicines so I believe your doctor diagnosed the infection as a bacterial infection and not as a fungal infection. Antifungal medicines are different to antibiotics and are given in cases of yeast infection. Usually bacterial vaginosis (BV) produces a milky discharge with a strong odor. I’m not sure for how long your doctor gave you the antibiotics, but if symptoms continue or become worse, you will need to get back to your doctor.

  8. lil1016 says:

    Having weird discharge that I have never had before…it’s not thick…its thin and drys kinda fast and is milky white…and 3 days before my period..I have never experience anything like it ever…

  9. Thondhlana Precious says:

    I just experienced a milky discharge and it is odourles. I cant say it is creamy but just whitish and watery. i had sex with my husband on the 21st and 22th of september without protection and I had just had an inplant for Jadel(which is a family planning method which lasts up to 5yrs) on the 20th of september 2017. I took some morning after pills after the encounter but am feeling nausea and have a stomach upset and now this watery milky substance it is worrying me.Could i be pregnant? the nausea thing just starts after taking the morning after pills and even when I was using PILLS as a preventive measure for contraception. is something wrong with me.

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Hi Thondhlana, unfortunately I’m unable to give specific advise because I’m not a doctor. You can always do a pregnancy test which you can buy in the pharmacy, and if you have any worries or the symptoms continue, it’s best to see your doctor.

  10. SHARON KHASOHA says:

    Hi. Am 5 months pregnant and i have been experiencing this whity milky itchy n odour smell. Every evening when am off from work i immediatley remove my pant n whipe n i see strong discharge of thoz particles. Can it be an infection? Can it affect my baby when i give birth?can it cause death or sort of abnomality to my baby? Thank you

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Smelly discharge accompanied with itching indicates that there is probably some sort of infection (yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis). I have read that Without proper treatment, having bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy can increase your risk of miscarrying in the second trimester and raise your chances of delivering prematurely. As for a yeast infection – if left untreated, yeast infections can pass to your baby’s mouth during delivery. Please go to your doctor for a proper diagnosis and to get a treatment.

  11. maartha says:

    I have a very itchy vagina and this milky and cheesy stuff is coming pouring out like my period blood. its kind of yellowish but has no smell to it. iv been using thrush cream but its not stoping.

  12. niza says:

    My vagina is itching,swelling,redness and a lumpy white discharge…what can I do to get rid of it

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Hi Niza, I believe you have a vaginal infection, probably a yeast infection. There are various home remedies that you can try (see my article about vaginal itching), however it’s best to treat the symptoms at an early stage. If your situation is advanced, then I would go to see a doctor.

  13. Success Godwin says:

    Why is it that whenever I make love to my fiance I always have this pain associated immediately after sex after a while it stopped. what is it normal or abnormal pls help

    • Jenny Hills says:

      There can be many reasons for pain after sex, such as vaginal infection, STDs, vaginal dryness due to menopause for example, endometriosis and more. Pain after sex is something you should discuss with your doctor to find out the cause of it.

  14. tumi says:

    I have a milky discharge n smell whn i sleep with my husband is so painfull wat can i do

  15. Lisa says:

    I have a milky discharge with itching at the virginal opening.I really need help

  16. M says:

    I have A LOT of thick white discharge for over a month now, every single day. No itching, no smell, not stretchy, just the discharge with no other symptoms. I got tested for STDs but those came back negative. It is also not a yeast infection (I did have that before tho). Any ideas what it might be?

  17. Lucy I says:

    I am having a creamy white discharge and it’s getting past my monthly cycle. plz does this mean that am pregnant?

    • Jenny Hills, Medical Writer and Researcher says:

      No it doesn’t indicate pregnancy. if you suspect that you are pregnant, you need to take a pregnancy test.

  18. samiam says:

    i have alot of thick white creamy mucus in my underwear for the last two days no itching or odor. never had so much before. now my period isn’t due until the 20th. i have read some different things that it could be ovulation or pregnancy. my question is which one is it?

    • Jenny Hills, Medical Writer and Researcher says:

      Please refer to my article about 14 Signs of Implantation or Early Pregnancy Before Missed Period for more information. Click HERE.

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