Has vaginal discharge got you feeling down? Any unexpected secretion or cervical mucus from your lady parts can be worrying, annoying, and even embarrassing. Not to mention the discomfort that happens when your underwear are suddenly wet and soggy even when your period is still weeks away. We get it, and we can empathize with the unpleasantries of unwanted discharge before period. The good news is that in most cases, those secretions you’ve come to dread are completely normal vaginal discharge and healthy discharge. It can also indicate that your body is working exactly as it should. Think of those wet-panty moments as a not-so-pleasant rite of passage into womanhood.
While it’s normal to produce just under a teaspoon of clear or white discharge every day, some types of secretions could indicate an infection or other health issue. To help you differentiate between “healthy” and “questionable” causes of discharge, let’s talk about the purpose of discharge and each type in greater detail.
What Is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is any type of fluid that comes out of—you guessed it—your vagina. Though your vagina is the exit point, the discharge often travels downward from the uterus and cervix. Some of it is also produced inside the vaginal canal.
If you’re like every other woman, you probably wish you could do away with this unwanted liquid. But the truth is, your discharge performs some very important functions.
First, it cleans your insides up. It helps your body expel bacteria and dead cells that would otherwise be stuck inside you. It’s like having your own personal housekeeper for your reproductive system. When your reproductive system is clean and free from harmful cells, it’s less likely to become infected. That means your discharge is actually doing you a huge favor.
Second, it’s like a natural fertility calendar. Your vaginal secretions can give you clues about your fertility at any point in time. This is great news for anyone trying to get pregnant. For example, when you’re ovulating, your secretions generally become thicker and resemble raw egg whites. This is the perfect time to tell your partner it’s time to go put a bun in the oven.
What Are the Different Types of Vaginal Discharge Before Period?
There are a variety of vaginal secretions you may experience regularly or occasionally. Your hormones influence the color, thickness, and amount of secretions your body produces at any given time. Some of the most common types of vaginal discharge you’ll likely experience include:
White discharge. This type of vaginal secretion often occurs at the beginning or end of your menstrual cycle. It’s perfectly normal to experience a bit of white discharge up to 14 days prior to your period. Higher progesterone levels in the body cause the white color during the luteal phase of your cycle.
Cloudy or white vaginal discharge is also very common during early pregnancy. Rather than causing alarm, it should give you confidence that your body is doing its job to keep your growing baby healthy. This type of normal discharge even has its own name: leukorrhea. Vaginal secretions during early pregnancy are usually thin, milky white (though they can be slightly yellow-tinged as well), and sometimes spotty.
However, if the white discharge before period becomes noticeably smelly, is accompanied by itching, or looks like cottage cheese, it’s not healthy and requires a visit to your doctor. This abnormal discharge could be a sign of a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis that requires prompt treatment.
Clear discharge. Unlike white discharge that makes its grand appearance in the days leading up to your period, clear discharge before period is most commonly associated with ovulation. Ovulation discharge, like cervical mucus, will most likely become clear and stretchy rather than like watery discharge. The increased presence of estrogen leads to this change in your discharge.
If you’re trying to become pregnant, you’ll want to watch closely for clear secretions since they indicate the most fertile part of your cycle.
Yellow discharge. Yellow discharge during a missed period could be an early indication of pregnancy, so you may want to grab a home pregnancy test. It isn’t unusual for newly pregnant women to secrete sticky, pale-yellow, or white mucus starting in the first trimester. If you have reason to think you should be pregnant and you’re noticing yellow discharge, you should schedule an appointment with your OBGYN as soon as possible. You want to make sure everything looks good for both you and your new baby.
Another possible cause for yellow vaginal secretions is a little less pleasant than a tiny peanut in your uterus. Yellow-tinged secretions are commonly associated with infections. You should be especially wary if your secretions have a very strong, foul smell or if they’re frothy and chunky. Itchiness is also a common indication of infection or possibly sexually transmitted disease.
If you have any doubts about the underlying cause of your yellow secretions, don’t worry too much. Modern medicine is amazing and can most likely return your lady parts to a healthy condition in minimal time. Schedule an appointment with your gynecologist for diagnosis and treatment.
Green discharge. Like some yellow discharge, green vaginal secretions are almost always indicative of an infection. Green secretions typically point to a sexually transmitted infection (such as trichomoniasis) or a bacterial infection. They are usually accompanied by other unpleasant symptoms, such as burning, spotting, vaginal itching, or general discomfort. You can usually tell if you’re dealing with infection by smelling the secretion. If it smells foul, get on the phone and make that appointment with your gynecologist.
Brown discharge. If you’re experiencing brownish discharge or spots in your underwear before a period, it’s most likely old blood that has made its way out of your body. This is a normal part of the menstrual cycle for many women and frequently occurs one to two weeks before regular vaginal bleeding starts. Some women also experience a brief period of brown discharge after their period has ended. If you consistently experience brown “spotting” before or after your period, it’s most likely nothing to worry about.
However, there are other potential causes of brown discharge before period. In rare cases, brown vaginal secretions can indicate cervical or endometrial cancer, abnormal growths, or a uterine fibroid. That doesn’t mean you should rush to your doctor’s office every time you see brown spots in your underwear. Instead, just make sure you’re scheduling annual pelvic examinations. During these procedures, your gynecologist will check for potentially dangerous cervical abnormalities.
There’s no reason to be embarrassed about unusual vaginal discharge before period. Remember, your gynecologist deals with all types of secretions on a regular basis. His or her primary responsibility is to help diagnose the underlying cause of your unusual secretions and prescribe treatments to help combat any underlying infections.
Give Your Vaginal Health a Boost
Now that you know about the most common types of vaginal discharge before period and after period and why they occur, you may be wondering how to give your female parts the TLC they need to stay healthy. Hertime is a great supplement to help you maintain healthy hormone levels, so you experience normal, natural vaginal secretions as Mother Nature intended. You can also take advantage of our educational blog posts and podcast episodes that teach you how to take care of your body so it will take care of you.