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Causes of White Smelly Discharge: What Other Women Have to Say?

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

Vaginal discharge is an important part of the female reproductive system, and a common gynecological complaint that many women have. While it’s normal to experience vaginal discharge to some extent, an increasing number of females report white smelly discharge that’s oftentimes accompanied by additional symptoms such as itching, swelling and burning. Most of the time, these symptoms clearly indicate the presence of a vaginal infection, or vaginitis, that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

A lot of women who notice vaginal discharge for the first time proceed to increasing the frequency of their hygiene habits, wearing tampons or panty liners to absorb the fluids, or using deodorants to reduce the odor. This oftentimes worsens the symptoms and leads to complications – and here is what other women just like you have reported experiencing after doing so.

1. White Smelly Discharge

I have always been diligent about my personal hygiene – not overly diligent or obsessed, just extremely careful and considerate. At the time when I thought I had an infection, I was fully aware of vaginal discharge, and I knew that I was supposed to experience it every day. What I didn’t know was that vaginal discharge was greatly affected by the time in my menstrual cycle. So when I noticed that my undies were literally soaked, I naturally freaked out. Later that day, I noticed that my vulva felt tacky and wet, and particularly slippery when I was wiping, but there was no odor or itching. Knowing that yeast infection was supposed to cause smelly white vaginal discharge, itching, swelling and redness, I thought that I hadn’t been diligent enough about my hygiene.

I went to shopping after I finished work, and bought an expensive, lavender scented soap along with a deodorant intended specifically for my genital area. I was determined to get rid of that annoying white discharge no odor, so I started cleaning my intimate area two times a day, spraying deodorant every time I used the toilet. Proud that my undies were finally odorless, I continued doing the same thing for the next couple of days, until the discharge became chunky, clumpy, and sour smelling.

Concerned that I might have yeast infection, I called my gyn and made an appointment for the following day. She took a few vaginal swabs, and a few days later I found out that I had only mild bacterial vaginosis. She asked me if I had had sex recently, if I had douched, or if I had changed my hygiene habits.

She told me that, in fact, the white vaginal discharge with odor was due to having used all of those hygiene products – they altered my vagina’s pH, and resulted in abnormal discharge with fishy smell. She advised me to use specifically water for keeping myself clean and fresh down below during the treatment, and prescribed me some antibiotics along with a probiotic supplement to avoid yeast infection. She also advised me to change my underpants two times a day to avoid bad odor.

The bottom line? It’s good to keep your genital area clean, but you should never be obsessed about it. It seems that the only reason why I had more discharge before starting to wash more frequently down below was due to ovulation, which increased estrogen levels and increased the amount of mucus. So girls, if you ever go through the same thing, be sure to see your doctor before trying to “solve” the issue yourselves!

Read also:

White Vaginal Discharge: When Is It Normal and When Not?

2. White Vaginal Discharge No Odor During Pregnancy

I was three months pregnant at the time I experienced an increase in white vaginal discharge no odor. Perfectly aware of the changes that my body was going through, I didn’t panic. The discharge was watery, whitish, and with slight odor, and it sometimes felt as if I had passed urine. There was not smell but itchy vagina, so the only thing I did was switching to wet wipes instead of regular toilet paper in an attempt to soothe the itching. Symptoms worsened after just two days: the discharge became clumpy, but there was still no odor. My vulva seemed redder than usually. I told my husband about my symptoms, and he urged me to see a doctor the following day – which is what I did.
I told my gyn about the odorless discharge I was experiencing, she examined me, and asked me when I first experienced the symptoms. After asking dozens of questions about what I had and hadn’t done before, she came to the conclusion that I probably had thrush. I panicked. I hadn’t had sex, taken antibiotics, or did anything out of the ordinary.

However, it seems that the hormonal changes caused Candida bodies to grow excessively, and here I was!
I was happy that I could diagnose the underlying cause fast, so my baby wouldn’t suffer. She prescribed me some pregnancy-safe pills, and recommended me to avoid the use of tampons or panty liners. She urged me to stay away from hygiene products and use plain tap water for cleaning my genitals. She also suggested that I start taking probiotics to stave off the thrush, and eat more yoghurt with living cultures to replenish my body’s depleted levels of good bacteria.

The same thing happened during the sixth month of pregnancy, but I was experiencing white discharge with odor no itching that time. It seemed that I had a tougher form of yeast infection, which I luckily treated in two weeks. One thing that I recommend to pregnant women? Don’t do what I did. Don’t assume that white discharge without odor is normal. Have yourself checked regularly by your gyn to make sure that there is no infection. Many infections are asymptomatic, meaning you could still have one but not experience any symptoms. If left untreated, that can really hurt your little one and your own health too!

Pregnancy and birth complications and painful, and they can have very serious consequences. Even if normal in most of the time, vaginal discharge that exhibits abnormal symptoms should be examined by a professional to ensure that there’s nothing to be concerned about.