Vaginal discharge, also referred to as cervical mucus, comes in many different forms and affects all women - in fact, vaginal discharge primarily exists to keep the vagina clean and protect it from infection. Nonetheless, when the colour, amount or consistency of your discharge changes 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 the most common types of discharge that may appear before your period, how to know if your discharge is 'normal' plus, if your discharge is a sign of pregnancy.

See also: Brown Discharge: What does it mean?



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Discharge before your period: What does it mean?


Vaginal discharge changes 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.

These 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, 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].

What’s more, many women might not realise the effect hormonal birth control can have on their discharge. That’s right - the hormonal changes contained in the contraceptive pill can at times thicken cervical fluids and cause a whitish discharge in women throughout the month.


Is white discharge a sign of period coming or pregnancy?


It’s normal for women to experience a number of different types and changes in their vaginal discharge - particularly in the run-up to their period.

According to Harvard Health, the white discharge that some women may notice is known as leukorrhea and can be caused by a number of factors, these include:

  • An oncoming period
  • Birth control
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Yeast infection

How many days before period does white discharge start?


During the follicular phase - the time between the first day of the period and ovulation, you may experience white or creamy discharge. According to the Mayo Clinic, vaginal discharge during a typical menstrual cycle tends to look a little something like the below:

  • No noticeable discharge days after period ends
  • Cloudy discharge three-five days following
  • Clear and wet discharge for the next three-four days
  • No detectable discharge for 11-14 days until your next period

It’s important to remember that not everyone’s menstrual cycle is the same - which means not everyone will experience the same types and forms of discharge! If you’re worried about yours, it’s important to see a doctor find out more.

See also: Green Vaginal Discharge: What is it and What Causes the Symptoms?


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].

See also: Yellow Vaginal Discharge: Should you be Worried?


How do I know if my discharge is normal?


While vaginal discharge is undoubtedly a natural occurrence, unfortunately, it’s not often spoken about - which can leave women with a number of questions. This includes how to know if their discharge is ‘normal’.

According to the NHS, 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.

Certain vaginal infections and STIs can cause a change in discharge and can be linked to foul-smelling discharge and a number of other changes, some of these include:

  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Gonorrhoea or chlamydia
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Human papilomavirus (HPV)
  • Yeast infections

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

  • Changes in colour, smell or texture
  • Increases in quantity
  • Is burning or itching

See also: STIs That Cause Discharge: What Does Your Discharge Mean?


Is white discharge a sign of period coming or pregnancy?


It’s normal for women to experience a number of different types and changes in their vaginal discharge - particularly in the run up to their period. According to Harvard Health, the white discharge that some women may notice is known as leukorrhea and can be caused by a number of factors, these include:

  • An oncoming period
  • Birth control
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Yeast infection

What does discharge look like before period if pregnant?


Although vaginal discharge isn’t a clear sign of pregnancy, it’s normal for some women to experience a sticky white discharge in the first few weeks of their pregnancy, or their first trimester.

It’s believed that nearly all women experience vaginal discharge in pregnancy and it plays a pretty important role in preventing any infections travelling up into the womb. This discharge is typically sticky, white or pale yellow.


Abnormal discharge can happen as a result of an STI but that’s not always the case. If you notice a change in your vaginal discharge which has you concerned - make sure to visit your doctor.

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.

LetsGetChecked’s range of STI tests allow you to check for some of the most common infections from home. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated clinical team will be available to help every step of the way.

You should consider taking a test if:

  • You should also consider getting tested if:
  • You become sexually active
  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You are entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected


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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