First things first, vaginal discharge is completely normal - it exists to keep the vagina clean and protect it from infection [1]. Nonetheless, when the colour, amount or consistency starts to change in the run-up to your period, it can leave you slightly confused.

We’re going to take you through everything you need to know about discharge before your period - including what it means and how to know if it’s ‘normal’.



Discharge before your period: What does it mean?


Vaginal discharge is known to change depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle [2]. So, if you notice a slight change in your discharge before your period, you shouldn’t worry.

Here are the two most common types of discharge that may appear in the lead up to your period [3]:

White discharge

If you’re experiencing a thick, tacky and white discharge, it’s usually a sign that you’re about to ovulate. This particular discharge is known for assisting in the fertilization process because of its perfect consistency that allows sperm to penetrate the cervix [4].

Creamy discharge

Some refer to this creamy and clear discharge as ‘ovulation discharge’ as it's known to occur right before ovulation. In some cases, this discharge will appear right before your period; both cases are completely common [5].


How do I know if my discharge is normal?


Vaginal discharge is a natural thing, you have nothing to worry about once [6]:

  • It doesn’t have a strong or unpleasant smell
  • Is clear or white
  • Is thick and sticky
  • The consistency is slippery and wet

Signs your discharge may not be ‘normal’

If your discharge doesn’t fall under any of the above categories and you’ve noticed a change in the smell, colour or texture - it might be a sign of an infection.

If you’re concerned, it’s important to visit your doctor if your discharge [7]:

  • Changes in colour, smell or texture
  • Increases in quantity
  • Feels itchy or sore

Should I get tested?


If you notice a change in your vaginal discharge which has you concerned - make sure to visit your doctor.

Abnormal discharge can happen as an STI but that’s not always the case. That said, if you feel as if the change in your discharge is a result of contracting an STI, you should visit your local doctor or take an STI test from the comfort of your own home to keep your mind at ease.



References

  1. NHS. Vaginal discharge. Online: NHS.uk, 2018
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. Vaginal discharge. Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2019
  3. World Health Organisation. WHO laboratory manual for the examination of human semen and sperm-cervical mucus interaction. Cambridge university press; 1999
  4. World Health Organisation. WHO laboratory manual for the examination of human semen and sperm-cervical mucus interaction. Cambridge university press; 1999
  5. World Health Organisation. WHO laboratory manual for the examination of human semen and sperm-cervical mucus interaction. Cambridge university press; 1999
  6. NHS. Vaginal discharge. Online: NHS.uk, 2018
  7. NHS. Vaginal discharge. Online: NHS.uk, 2018