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All Types of Vaginal Discharge: What Do They Really Indicate?

What types of vaginal discharge are there? Did you know you can actually determine your cycle phase by the color and structure of your discharge? Find out how below!

Why might your underwear get stained?

All women occasionally notice underwear stains of various shades of white.

They are associated with vaginal discharge, which is considered normal.

Wet discharge generally looks white or transparent. When it dries, the liquid evaporates from it, leaving a white or yellowish solid that can be covered with a crust.

This is absolutely normal, provided that your discharge is:

  • odorless or has a weak salty odor
  • not accompanied by itching or burning

Otherwise, it is recommended that you consult a doctor to be on the safe side.

Vaginal discharge composition

Any mucous membrane needs moisturizing. The vagina’s healthy condition is maintained with the help of a viscous discharge layer.

Vaginal discharge consists of:

  • secretions (mucus) produced by the cervical and Bartholin’s glands, as well as the endometrium
  • a fluid that comes through the walls of blood vessels supplying the reproductive system organs with blood
  • secretions produced by the sebaceous and sweat glands of the vulvar vestibule
  • dead cells of the vaginal epithelium and cervix
  • a large number of bacteria colonizing the vagina, including beneficial ones, which prevent pathogenic bacteria from multiplying, thus maintaining an acidic pH

To sum up, the vaginal discharge consists of water, mucus (which is also a water-containing liquid) and cells normally present in your body.

There is nothing unpleasant about the vaginal discharge. It is as natural as the saliva in your mouth.

The types of vaginal discharge

Now, let’s dive into the types of discharge you might see and what they can actually tell about your body.

Egg white discharge

The precise time of ovulation differs from woman to woman, and sometimes, even from one month to the next.

The egg white vaginal discharge is a telltale sign that you are about to ovulate. It’s the perfect consistency to allow the sperm to penetrate the cervix and help in the fertilization process.

Cervical mucus that stretches between the fingertips when they’re spread apart means that it’s fertile! The longer the stretch holds between the fingers, the better its fertile quality.

It may be difficult to notice the changes in cervical mucus at the beginning of your observations.

Creamy discharge

You have logged “creamy” vaginal discharge.

A creamy discharge precedes fertile discharges (egg white type). This fluid type may be observed either before your ovulation time or later — right before your period.

Knowing your cervical mucus will help you to plan your sexual activity, in order to conceive.

Track your cervical mucus during the cycle, noting any changes on the chart, and after a few cycles, you may find a pattern.

Sticky discharge

You have logged “sticky” discharge, which is a common type of cervical mucus (CM) during your luteal phase.

You may or may not see some sticky cervical fluid several days after your period (your “dry” days gradually convert into “sticky”).

Knowing your cervical mucus will help you to plan your sexual activity, in order to conceive.

The amount and type of vaginal discharge varies among women and throughout the woman's menstrual cycle.

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Use Flo to log your symptoms and to make notes. This information will help you find useful articles and collect valuable data for the doctor if needed.

Normal vaginal discharge: how much should it be?

Some women are concerned about the amount of vaginal discharge they get. It may seem excessive, but there is no need to worry about it.

A healthy woman’s body produces an average of 1–4 ml of discharge within a 24-hour period. You can visualize this amount by filling a syringe with colored water and squirting it out onto a cloth.

This parameter varies on a case-by-case basis; that is, the amount can exceed 4 ml and still not be indicative of a problem.

It is worth remembering that the amount of female discharge sometimes increases significantly during ovulation, pregnancy, and oral contraceptive intake.

If you are having more cervical mucus than usual, or if there is itching, odor, or pain during sex, be sure to consult a doctor.

Are secretions released during arousal and abundant vaginal discharge the same thing?

The main function of vaginal discharge is to maintain the health of the mucous membrane lining the vagina. Like any mucosa, it requires constant moisturizing to ensure comfort and protection.

Throughout the menstrual cycle, the amount of cervical mucus may vary, but even at peak times (during ovulation), it is not enough for comfortable intercourse.

Regular vaginal discharge is part of natural lubrication, but there are other processes that come into play for additional moistening.

The vaginal area becomes engorged with a large amount of blood, and the blood vessels expand, letting the transudate fluid come through their walls.

During arousal, mucus is also produced by the Bartholin’s glands (located in the vulvar vestibule) and Skene’s glands (located behind the urethra).

Vaginal lubrication is necessary for facilitating penetration as well as reducing friction and irritation during intercourse.
Its amount differs for every woman, and can vary depending on life stages or menstrual cycle phases.

Is vaginal discharge connected to hormone levels?

Between periods, women can notice vaginal discharge, which changes in color (from white to transparent), in amount, and in viscosity during the cycle.

These natural changes occur under the influence of hormones, especially estrogen.

In each cycle, normal hormone-dependent processes occur in a woman’s body.

  1. Discharge is almost absent immediately following your period (“dry days”).
  2. As you approach ovulation, the amount of discharge increases, and cervical mucus becomes stretchy and transparent, like egg white.
  3. The amount of discharge decreases again before menstruation.

Observe discharge for several months and log it in Flo to notice changes in its amount and nature.

If you notice anything abnormal about your discharge, it is worth consulting a doctor.

  • No change in the nature of discharge throughout the menstrual cycle may indicate a hormonal imbalance.
  • Unusually abundant vaginal discharge observed for several consecutive weeks is one of the indicators of a high estrogen level.
  • An extremely low amount of discharge may be indicative of low estrogen levels.

When does vaginal discharge indicate a disease?

Normal discharge is odorless. It is white or transparent, thick and sticky, or slippery and stretchy.

Unusual discharge can indicate:

  • bacterial vaginosis (discharge has a fishy odor)
  • a yeast infection (discharge is clumpy like cottage cheese)
  • trichomoniasis (discharge is yellow/greenish and foamy).
Be sure to consult a specialist if you are experiencing:
  • an atypical increase in the amount of discharge
  • changes in vaginal discharge color, smell, or texture
  • bloody discharge
  • genital skin irritation, itching or burning
  • lower abdominal pain while urinating

Vaginal discharge plays an important role in the female reproductive system. If the color, smell, or consistency seem significantly unusual, especially if accompanied by vaginal itching or burning, it could be a sign of an infection or other medical condition. If something bothers you a lot, it’s time to visit your doctor.

http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginal-discharge-whats-abnormal
https://www.fertilitysmarts.com/-decoding-vaginal-discharge/2/984
https://youngwomenshealth.org/2011/11/30/yellow_discharge/
http://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/why-is-vaginal-lubrication-important-for-women
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/how-to-get-pregnant/art-20047611

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