This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
This is a symptom of disease rather than an independent malady. It is indicative of quite a variety of conditions. The discharge to which the term "whites" or "female weakness" is familiarly applied, varies considerably in character. A natural discharge of whitish mucus, the proper secretion of the vaginal mucous membrane, takes place for a short time just before and just after menstruation, and need occasion no concern; but when the discharge becomes continuous, not disappearing in the interval between the menstrual periods, it becomes a symptom of disease. A very profuse discharge naturally takes place also in the latter part of pregnancy.
The indication of this symptom depends largely upon the character of the discharge. Viscid, mucous discharges are generally from the womb. Curdy, mucous discharges are occasioned by catarrh of the vagina. Clear or turbid watery discharges, especially when very offensive in character, are indicative of tumors or malignant disease of the womb. Discharges containing pus are indicative of inflammation or ulceration; they may proceed from the vaginal mucous membrane or from the uterus. Reddish or bloody discharges accompany tumors of various kinds, cancer, and ulceration of the womb; discharges of a very offensive character, especially when occasionally mixed with blood, are indicative of the presence of malignant disease. Offensive discharges are not positive evidence of the presence of cancer, however, as they may arise from other causes.
In an addition to the special causes mentioned, leucorrhoea may result from simple congestion of the blood-vessels of the vaginal mucous membrane due to improper dress, It may also be occasioned by taking cold, by sexual excess, and by a debilitated condition of the stomach.
Hot douches and sitz baths are as effective for this as for other morbid conditions of the female sexual organs. The hot water injection should be made slightly astringent in character by the addition of powdered alum, tannin, and other mild astringents. Alum may be used in the proportion of a teaspoonful to a quart of water. Tannin may be used in proportion of one dram to the same quantity of water. When the discharge is offensive, a solution of permanganate of potash in the proportion of ten grains to a pint of water, or carbolic acid in proportion of fifteen drops to a pint of water, will generally be effective in correcting the fetor.