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’.

See also: Brown Discharge: What Does it Mean?



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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].

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


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

See also: What you Need to Know About Blood After Sex


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 to find out more.

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


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.


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.



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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