Have you noticed changes in your vaginal health recently? Or have you always wondered whether you have excessive vaginal discharge? Read on to learn more about what discharge is, what it does, and what it means for your health.
Vaginal discharge in and of itself is nothing to worry about. It’s common for women of childbearing age to produce white or clear discharge that doesn’t have a strong smell, and with a consistency that can vary from sticky and thick to wet and slippery. This discharge is nothing more than a combination of mucus (produced by glands near the cervix), dead skin and bacteria — the good kind!
There are several reasons your vagina produces discharge. First of all, it helps keep the vagina clean by flushing out fluid and dead skin cells. Around ovulation, it becomes thicker, to help sperm reach the fallopian tubes. Finally, it’s home to the lactobacillus bacteria, the good bacteria that helps keep your vagina healthy.
The amount of discharge can vary from woman to woman simply because of physical differences. This is because discharge is produced by glands on the cervix. If your cervix shape means that you have room for more glands, you will also produce more discharge. If you’ve ever wondered why some women need to wear panty liners to deal with what can feel like excessive discharge while others don’t — this is the reason. It’s perfectly normal, and no cause for concern.
You might have noticed that your discharge can vary in amount and even consistency. This is normal, too.
As we mentioned above, one of the functions of vaginal discharge is to help sperm reach an egg cell. This is why you may notice your discharge becoming thicker and stickier around ovulation, while becoming more watery after your menstrual cycle is complete.
Certain periods in your menstrual cycle are far from the only time that you may notice changes. It is common for women to experience increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy. This is caused by a growing cervix and hormonal changes. It’s also not unusual for a pregnancy to permanently change the amount of discharge you produce, even after giving birth.
Hormonal changes can also cause decreases in discharge, such as when breastfeeding and during the menopause. And if you use hormonal anticonception methods, you may also see changes in your discharge depending on the type of product you use.
All the changes described above are normal and nothing to worry about. However, not all changes are positive. In case of doubt, or if your discharge develops a very strong smell, turns yellow or green, or becomes excessively thick, you should consult your doctor.