Leucorrhoea, commonly known as whites, refers to a whitish discharge from the female genitals. It is an abnormal condition of the reproductive organs of women. If not treated properly in the initial stages, it may become chronic.
Leucorrhoea, vaginal discharge is a universal problem of all women. It is seen more in married women as compared to unmarried women. It’s also common to have more vaginal discharge during pregnancy period.
Female genitals are very much prone to infections since they are moist, sweaty and covered. The white vaginal discharge with foul smell makes it embarrassing to get into social gatherings and even engage in personal affairs. The affected women needs reassurance; prevention from infections and some counseling as most of the women health problems are psychosomatic. The amount of vaginal secretion varies throughout the menstrual cycle, peaking at ovulation and also increasing when under emotional stress.
What is Leucorrhoea (white discharge)?
Mucous membranes and glands in our body produce a lot of secretions, which have their own separate functions. The secretions protect our body by forming a thin lining over the skin or mucous membrane. It also helps to keep the mucous membrane or skin moist and flexible. The best example to understand is saliva in the mouth. If this secretion becomes very low, everyone will feel the dryness. The skin may crack thus paving way for infections. Similarly, vaginal glands also secrete some secretions to keep the organ moist, flexible and to prevent it from infection by its acidic nature. At ovulation time, the acidic nature of the secretion gets altered to alkali nature by hormones to allow the male sperm to survive for fertilisation. If not, the sperms will find it difficult to thrive and reach the ovum. Also, secretions of the vagina help in lubrication during the sexual act.
Leucorrhoea is a medical term for white discharge which is an excessive secretion from the female reproductive tract especially from the vagina or cervix or both. It is very common in females nowadays. It could be embossing, painful and may cause lot of discomfort, stress and even affect the sexual preferences and libido. It may be mild to severe, and varies from person to person.
Types of Leucorrhoea
Leucorrhoea is mainly classified into two types:
It is an excessive discharge or secretions of a normal vagina. It generally occurs among teenage girls due to hormonal imbalance during puberty, at the time of ovulation period of the menstrual cycle and before periods. In case of adults, it occurs during the course of sexual excitement and pregnancy.
It is a discharge occurring due to disease or malfunction of the female reproductive tract. It needs immediate attention, cleanliness and treatment. Ignoring pathological leucorrhoea may lead to serious problems like infertility and complications of uterus. The nature of discharge varies from thin to thick bloody discharge with foul smell. This condition is commonly present in both the cases of vaginitis and cervicitis.
Causes of Leucorrhoea
From Fungus: Candida albicans can easily flourish in moist circumstances and is commonly promoted by synthetic undergarments and poor hygienic condition.
From Parasites: protozoa - Trichomonas vaginalis causes the Trichomoniasis which spreads usually through sexual intercourse and moist clothes.
From Bacteria: Gardnerella vaginalis and chlamydia are the prime causes in bacterial infections. Also, it is frequently seen in venereal diseases like gonorrhoea, syphilis, and AIDS.
Injury to the vagina or cervix or womb during childbirth, abortion, or excessive sexual indulgence can cause erosions and infections with discharges.
Non hygienic measures, especially during periods, can create infection and cause leucorrhoea.
May provoke infections due to weakened immunity among many females.
If irritation persists at IUCD, (Intra uterine contraceptive device) it can cause pain and discharges.
Used by males for provoking sexual act and jellies and drugs taken by females to kill sperms to avoid conception can also irritate and initiate the infective process.
Symptoms of leucorrhoea
Mostly there won’t be any symptom other than discharge. Discharge may be slim, viscid to dark coloured or even bloody with a foul smell. In some cases, the accompanying symptoms are:
Leucorrhoea is generally found to be hormonal. The occurrence, time and nature of the discharge also points out the diagnosis. Mostly, it can be easily differentiated as physiological or pathological leucorrhoea by physical examination. It is essential to identify the inflammation and help identify and confirm the type of infection.
Also, sometimes blood tests may be recommended by the doctors. Routine blood test gives some idea about the infection. And, finally, urine test is also a must to rule out the spread of infection.
Click on to read in detail about homeopathy treatment for Leucorrhoea (white discharge).
Complications of leucorrhoea
• In case of chronic infection, and if left untreated, the infection spreads inward into the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, etc., causing congestion of the uterus or ovary or pelvis, leading to heavy menstrual flow in the forthcoming period.
• It acts as a precursor of pelvic inflammatory diseases, salphingo-oophoritis (infection of fallopian tube and ovaries) which mostly result in pelvic adhesions like peritoneal adhesions and fallopian tube adhesions which obstruct tubes and may cause infertility.
• White discharges in late fertile period or after menopause should always be analysed completely to rule out cervix cancer which is the second commonest site of cancer in females after breast cancer.
• Urinary tract, reproductive tract and the adjacent organs are often caught in the spread of infection simultaneously since the urethra, vagina and anus lie very close.