Leuchorrhea




Leucorrhea is commonly known as white discharge. It is a female disease of the genital tract, in which a white discharge is seen from the vagina. Even its Sanskrit name, shwetapradara, is made up of two words - shweta which means ‘white’ and pradara which means ‘discharge’.

Definition of Leucorrhea (Shwetapradara)

 

Leucorrhea is simply defined as a whitish discharge from the female vaginal tract. The discharge could be a smooth flow, or it could be sticky and lumpy. In most women, the nature of the discharge changes as their age advances or if they travel a lot.

Vaginal discharge is quite a normal and healthy phenomenon in females to an extent. The discharge is actually a fluid form of all the worn out and dead cells in the vaginal tract, along with other toxic materials that are eliminated continuously from the vagina. In a healthy woman, such discharges are whitish in color. But if the discharge darkens in color, then it requires medical attention.

Though shwetapradara literally means ‘white discharge’, the medical condition refers to the serious condition where there is some abnormality in the manner of the discharge. The following are the situations when shwetapradara needs to be treated:-

  • The discharge is very profuse and is difficult to stop even with sanitary pads.
  • The discharge is not pure white, but is grey-white, yellow or green, brown or rusty in color.
  • There is an itching sensation in the vagina following the discharge.

Causes of Leucorrhea (Shwetapradara)

There are a variety of reasons due to which leucorrhea can occur in women. The following are some of the well-known causes:-

(i) Fungal infection - A fungus, much like the yeast, can cause infection of the vaginal tract, leading to leucorrhea. When the woman is infected by a fungus, then the discharge is in thick and white accompanied by an itching sensation. This kind of discharge is called as a vaginal thrush.

(ii) Sexually transmitted diseases - Some sexually transmitted diseases can cause leucorrhea in women. The most popular of such sexually transmitted diseases is trichomoniasis. Such discharges are greenish or yellow.

(iii) Unhygienic toilet habits - Sharing toilet articles, especially in public toilets, can cause an infection of the vagina, resulting into leucorrhea. This is also observed by personal forgetfulness such as forgetting to remove a tampon or diaphragm. Women who rely a lot on vaginal medications are often victims of leucorrhea.

(iv) Cervical problems - Two kinds of problems with the cervix, the cervical erosion and the cervical polyp, can cause leucorrhea. Such leucorrhea is generally more profuse following sexual intercourse. The discharge is brown and resembles congealed blood.

(v) Pelvic inflammatory disease - Problems with the pelvis, such as the pelvic inflammatory disease can cause leucorrhea. The pelvis can get inflamed due to an infection.

(vi) Disease conditions - Women who suffer from diseases such as tuberculosis or anemia may have heavy discharges from their vaginas. This is observed more commonly in women who have poor resistance to diseases and live on a frugal diet.

(vii) Stress and tensions - At least some part of leucorrhea might be psychosomatic. Women who live under severe stress and worries develop leucorrhea.

Kapha dosha is the humor that maintains the proper balance of the fluid contents in the body with respect of the atmospheric balance outside. Vitiation in the kapha dosha may cause fluids from the human body to seep into the outside world. This is exactly what happens in shwetapradara. Hence, it can be clearly seen why Ayurveda labels shwetapradara or leucorrhea as a kapha dosha disorder.

Types of Leucorrhea (Shwetapradara)

The different types of leucorrhea are classified on the basis of the colors of their discharges and their causes. The following table summarizes these types of leucorrhea:-

Type of Leucorrhea

Caused by

Color of the discharge

Infectious Leucorrhea

Infection by a fungus

Thick and white, accompanied by an itchy sensation.

Sexually Transmitted Leucorrhea

Sexually transmitted diseases such as trichomoniasis.

Yellowish or greenish discharge.

Cervical Leucorrhea

Erosion or formation of a polyp in the cervix.

Brown or rusty discharge resembling blood.

Pelvic Leucorrhea

Complications with the pelvis such as the infectious pelvic inflammatory disease.

Whitish discharge with a pain in the lumbar (lower back) region.

Stress-related Leucorrhea

Mental stresses and tensions.

Profuse whitish discharge.

Symptoms of Leucorrhea (Shwetapradara)

The most prominent symptom of leucorrhea is an abnormality in the general state of the discharge from the vagina. The discharge could be any of the following:-

  • Darker in color than usual, mostly yellow, green or brown
  • White, but profuse in quantity
  • Discharge is accompanied by an itchy sensation or a pain in the lower abdomen.

In severe cases that are not treated for a long time, the discharge may begin from the anal area also. Such discharges are itchy and cause pain in both the genital and the anal area.

Complications due to Leucorrhea (Shwetapradara)

Leucorrhea is quite a commonplace problem if it is nipped in the bud. At the slightest hint of any abnormality in the discharge, one must consult a doctor. Treatment done in time checks the problem within a couple of days.

One more point to be kept in mind is that no type of self-medication must be done in the case of leucorrhea. There are many creams, ointments and pills available in the market, but they should be used only under the supervision of a qualified gynecologist. Some women are allergic to certain kinds of medicines used in leucorrhea. This could cause further infections and complicate the issue. Hence, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Transmission of Leucorrhea (Shwetapradara)

Leucorrhea that is transmitted by the yeast-like fungus is very easily transferable from one woman to another. This could happen when the clothes of an infected woman come in contact with the clothes of a healthy woman. For this reason, it is very important to clean the innerwear yourself and with a good quality detergent which has bactericidal and fungicidal properties.

Leucorrhea can also be the outcome of unsafe sexual contact. A man with unclean genitals can infect the genitals of the woman, thus causing leucorrhea in her.

Prevention of Leucorrhea (Shwetapradara)

There are many precautions that a woman must take in order to prevent leucorrhea. Some of these important guidelines are as follows:-

Genital hygiene is of utmost importance. Wash your genitals during every bath. Run water freely over the folds of the vulva and the anus. After the bath, pat dry the regions with a clean towel of your own. Do not let moisture retain in the genital or anal area after the bath.

Drink plenty of water which helps in flushing out the toxins from the body.

Be very particular about how you clean the anal area after defecation.

If your clothes get wet in the rain, immediately change them. This includes your lingerie and underwear.

Nylon is not a good material, especially in the summer season, as it retains sweat in the genital area. Cotton is an ideal material for panties.

Make doubly sure that your partner is free from any kind of infection if you are planning to have sexual intercourse with him. Both you and your partner must wash your genital areas before and after the act. You can make this a part of the sexual play and increase titillation.

If you are masturbating, ensure that your fingers are thoroughly clean. This applies to all other sexual toys and objects that you might enter into the vagina during the masturbation act.

Do not unnecessarily use any cosmetics like powders or perfumes in the genital area.

Do stress busting exercises regularly. Go on a walk or jog early morning. If the body is stress-free, its resistance to diseases is alleviated.

Diet for Preventing Leucorrhea (Shwetapradara)

Leucorrhea can be prevented by streamlining the diet. Streamlining means removing some harmful foods and adding some which are beneficial. Since leucorrhea is a kapha dosha disease, the diet must be streamlined in order to balance the kapha dosha.

The following is an ideal diet for a woman suffering from leucorrhea:-

  • Sugar must be avoided if there is profuse discharge. This also applies to all sugary foods such as sweets, pastries, custards, ice-creams and puddings.
  • Mushrooms must be avoided as they are fungi themselves. Some mushrooms can cause contamination.
  • Hot and spicy foods make things more complicated for the agni, i.e. the digestive fire of the body. Hence they must be minimized in the diet.
  • Alcohol must be totally avoided.
  • Instead, fresh curds must become an integral part of the diet. Curds help the easy digestion of food. Curds contain lactic acid, which can reduce the discharge. Also, curds have a cooling effect on the human body.

Ayurvedic Treatment for Leucorrhea (Shwetapradara)

Ayurveda prescribes several herbs for the prevention and the overall treatment of shwetapradara in women. Some of these herbs with their actions on the human body are mentioned in the table below:-

Ayurvedic Name of the Herb

Biological Name of the Herb

Common English Name of the Herb

Action on the Human Body

Ashoka

Saraca indica

Asoka

Asoka bark is boiled in milk until half the quantity is left. This decoction taken two to three times a day helps in the curing of leucorrhea.

Babool

Acacia arabica

Babul

The bark of the babool tree has great properties in the treatment of leucorrhea. It is used in the form of a decoction for a vaginal douche, which is known as uttara vasti in Ayurvedic language.

Badh

Ficus bengalensis

Banyan

A decoction of the banyan tree bark is used for douching the vaginal tract regularly for a few days. This helps in maintaining the general health of the vaginal tissues and reducing leucorrhea.

Heeng

Ferula foetida

Asafetida

The gum of the heeng tree is mixed with ghee and fresh milk of goat. When this is taken with honey in a teaspoonful amount thrice a day, it reduces the volume and offensiveness of the discharge.

Mehndi

Lawsonia inermis

Henna

Vaginal suppositories made of the leaves and seeds of the henna tree placed within the vagina help in the treatment of leucorrhea.

Some specially prepared Ayurvedic mixtures are useful in the treatment of leucorrhea. Pushyamuga choorna mixed with ashokarishta and taken twice daily with milk reduces the effects of shwetapradara.

Oudumber (Ficus religosa) , lodhra (Symplocos racemosa), Amla (Phyllanthus emblica), Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Mocha rasa (Bombax malabarica) and Naagakesara (Mesua ferra) are some more herbs that are used in making Ayurvedic preparations for the treatment of shwetapradara.