Women of all ages experience leucorrhoea, at some time or another. While many believe that it is caused due to the lack of hygiene; however, this is not the only cause.
What is Leucorrhoea?
Leucorrhoea or leukorrhea is a state or a condition that affects the vaginal region in women. This condition is also known as the ‘whites’ because a white discharge is released. Generally, this white discharge helps in flushing out bacteria and other microbes that enter the body. The discharge is generally, pale white or clear in color and odorless, but at times, the discharge can be of different colors, depending on the composition. If the composition has desquamated epithelium and mucus, then the color of the discharge is bluish-white, it is yellow and greenish yellow due to pus and bacteria. It can also be a chocolate color or blood-colored due to old or fresh blood.
In some women, the discharge can be a few drops, while in others, the discharge may be continuous. These mucous-like secretions help protect the interior of the body and they might not necessarily be harmful. It is believed that estrogen imbalance is one of the causes of leucorrhoea. Under infectious conditions and sexually transmitted diseases (STD), the amount of discharge increases significantly. Vaginal infections can include bacterial infections, yeast infections, and fungal infections. Leucorrhoea is also observed during a woman’s menstrual cycle.
These are the two types of leucorrhoea:
- Physiological leucorrhoea: In this condition, there is an excessive discharge or secretion from a normal vagina. This generally occurs in teenage girls when there is a hormonal imbalance, at the time of the ovulation period of the menstrual cycle and sometimes before the period properly begins. In adults, physiological leucorrhoea is seen in the early days of pregnancy and during sexual excitement. More often, this kind of discharge does not require the use of any medication.
- Pathological leucorrhoea: Pathological leucorrhoea is caused by a malfunction or disease in the female reproductive tract. The discharge can be slimy or may contain blood and can have a foul smell. Ignoring the symptoms of this type may lead to problems such as uterus removal or the loss of fertility. It can be seen in women suffering from cervicitis or vaginitis.
Common causes of leucorrhoea include the following:
- Poor hygiene and diseases: Unhygienic conditions, especially during days of the menstrual cycle, can lead to leucorrhoea. The presence of other diseases in the body can lower immunity and make the body susceptible to infections and subsequent discharge.
- Injury: Any injury or infections in the vagina or womb can also lead to leucorrhoea. The injury and infection may occur due to frequent abortions, excessive indulgence in sex, and during or after childbirth.
- Infections: Bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections in the vaginal area can also cause leucorrhoea. Some parasites like Trichomonas vaginalis, bacteria like Gardnerella vaginalis and Chlamydia trachomatis can cause infections in humans. Diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, and AIDS also show the presence of infectious bacteria. Moist, synthetic undergarments and clothes, combined with poor hygiene can also cause infections and vaginal discharge.
- Intrauterine contraceptive device: The use of IUCD’s sometimes causes irritation and discharge in females. Contraceptive devices should not be used without proper knowledge and instruction from a doctor.
The only major symptom that is seen in a person with leucorrhoea is the vaginal discharge. The symptoms that occasionally accompany this discharge are:
- Pain in the lower abdomen or legs (especially in the thigh and calf muscles)
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Irritation accompanied by intense itching in the genital tract
- Inability to concentrate on work due to being conscious of the discharge
- Pain during intercourse
- General fatigue due to loss of vital fluids