Forever wondered about ‘the stuff’ that is in your underwear or why there’s ‘goop’ on the toilet paper? I think at some time or another, be it at 13 or 36, the discharge seen in your pants has left most women wondering – what is normal vaginal discharge? Just like period blood, there can be a cultural sense of shame about vaginal discharge (the correct term being leukorrhea) or perhaps because nobody has ever explained to you properly what’s normal, you can think there is something terribly wrong. The great news is, there is nothing to worry about if you’re seeing normal vaginal discharge. It can, in fact, be a sign you’re incredibly healthy. Read on to find out more about the fluid you find in your pants.
Did you know about the different types of vaginal discharge?
So, what is it exactly that you see on your pants or on toilet paper? As it turns out, there are a few different types of vaginal discharge you could be seeing. The one I talk about the most is cervical fluid. This is the discharge that comes from your cervix at various points in your cycle. This same discharge provides sperm with a comfortable (fertile time) or uncomfortable (infertile time) environment for living and moving towards an egg. It’s the monitoring of these different types that can help you observe your fertile status and be part of a natural contraceptive method (more on this below!).
Another type of normal vaginal discharge is arousal fluid. Yes – still fluid. During sex or when you get aroused, your body produces fluid. It’s the ‘wet’ sensation you feel during sex – not to be confused with watery cervical fluid. And finally, there’s vaginal moisture. All mucus membranes in the body (including the inside of your mouth, nose and vagina) produce a little bit of fluid to keep them healthy. If they didn’t, they’d possibly dry and crack, leading to bleeding.
Also, blood can be regarded as vaginal discharge too!
All of these fluids can be referred to as vaginal discharge, and they’re all perfectly healthy. In fact, they can be a great sign your body is working well. Your body is always talking to you. Checking your underwear or toilet paper is less stressful than blood tests, too.
The amount and quality of the various kinds of normal vaginal discharge will fluctuate for a number of reasons: where you’re at in your menstrual cycle, your hydration levels, your hormone levels to name a few. Keep in mind, what I’m describing here is to give you an idea of what to look for. Your body is perfectly unique, and it’s best to get to know how it works.
When vaginal discharge isn’t healthy…
Your discharge can be a wonderful indicator of how well your body is working, and it can also let you know when there’s something isn’t quite right or needs special attention. Changes in vaginal discharge, such as a change in smell or colour, can be signs of infections, STDs, or other health conditions. Keeping an eye on your vaginal discharge through your cycle can be a huge help to you and your doctor in assisting managing your health. If your vaginal discharge changes to being odd smelling, changes colour to a distinct yellow, green or you’re experiencing an unusual bleeding pattern through your cycle, it’s worth keeping notes on when these appear. Bringing these changes up with your medical team is also important. Many infections and other conditions can be well managed or healed, so don’t feel panicked if these are part of your health journey. We love supporting women with any health condition to be their healthiest self, contact The Pagoda Tree to find our more!
The power of cervical fluid
My favourite normal vaginal discharge is of course cervical fluid. (I can’t say ever in a million years did I ever think that someday I’d write about normal vaginal discharge being a favourite subject but anyway….) This wonder fluid is the key to understanding your menstrual cycle.
Here’s what you need to know;
+ After the period but prior to ovulation (in a textbook, healthy cycle), your discharge will change from blood, to perhaps be non-existent for a few days or even a bit of sticky fluid.
+ This transitions through being a creamy fluid to discharge that looks and acts a bit like egg whites, or even watery fluid.
+ The last day of this wet or egg white fluid can indicate ovulation.
+ This wetter, stretchy vaginal discharge provides a supportive environment for conception. Sperm can happily live and travel to the egg in it.
+ You can also use the presence of this peak fertile fluid to avoid unprotected sex if you’re not aiming to get pregnant too – it’s so important to understand your body, no matter your goals. This is called Natural Fertility Awareness.
+ After ovulation, your fluid will dry up again, moving back to sticky or no discernable discharge at all.
+ After the egg is dead, your fluid becomes drier to prevent anything interfering with a (potential) pregnancy. Your vaginal discharge changing can indicate your cycle is now drawing to a close, heading to your period or pregnancy depending on if you timed sex correctly with ovulation.
While there are a few other signs that can help you determine where you’re at in your cycle, cervical fluid is the only one that can tell you the start of your fertile window, making it quite unique!
Want to learn more about your cervical fluid and other forms of vaginal discharge?
One of my most popular blog posts, ‘Can’t work out when you ovulate?’ goes into more detail about what a typical cycle looks like. Feel free to jump into the comments along with hundreds of others to understand your body’s natural patterns. I do love reading and responding to your comments.
My very first Masterclass, Debunking Ovulation, is the most in-depth way to understand your menstrual cycle (I can’t even go into this much detail with my private clients in a session!). And of course my new book, Beautiful You (available in Australia and soon to be the US) provides you with so much information and tools to support your body to be its healthiest self.
Do you understand your cervical fluid patterns? Have you ever been worried or curious about normal vaginal discharge? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!