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August 05, 2022 4 min read

GETTING WET: LET'S TALK ABOUT VAGINAL DISCHARGE AND WHAT IT IS

There are many types of vaginal fluids – vaginal discharge, cervical fluid, squirting, and arousal fluid. This blog focuses on these fluids and how to differentiate normal vaginal discharge from abnormal discharge.

Definition of Vaginal Discharge and Its Importance

Vaginal discharge is any non-period fluid released through the vagina. Its main purpose is to remove any debris and old cells from the vagina to ensure the reproductive tract remains healthy and clean.

Different Vaginal Fluids

Vaginal Discharge

The cervix produces vaginal discharges during the menstrual cycle. The thickness, color, and amount produced vary depending on the menstrual cycle stage. The different colors of vaginal discharge include; 

Clear

Clear vaginal fluid is the only ordinary discharge that most women experience. It varies in consistency depending on the stage of the menstrual cycle. It can range from water-like to stretchy and egg white consistency. However, all are healthy and normal.

White

This is another common discharge that is a sign of healthy lubrication. This discharge ranges from light yellow to cream and does not signify any vaginal infection. However, if this type of fluid is accompanied by other symptoms, such as strong odor, itching with a cottage cheese consistency, it might be a sign of a yeast infection, and you should consult your OB-GYN. 

Pink Reddish Brown

The Pink, Reddish Brown discharge contains some blood that is always normal. It's usually called spotting and can happen anytime during the menstrual cycle. However, this type of vaginal discharge can result from cervical cancer or endometrium in a few cases. Therefore, women are advised to go for yearly checkups to ensure their reproductive system is safe.

Arousal fluid

The Bartholin glands, located on each side of the vaginal opening, lubricate the vagina, thus protecting it from regularly drying out. This fluid helps in increasing sexual arousal and a person's sexual drive. However, the pea size of these glands also helps produce arousal fluids anytime a woman is sexually aroused. Though vaginal discharge is often automatically regulated by the body without thinking about it, the brain plays the biggest role by regulating arousal fluids in the body.

Being the most common sexual organ, the cycle of the sexual response starts in the brain. When the Bartholin gland is triggered by the brain, it produces the arousal fluid. The blood flow to the vagina then increases, making it wet and swollen. 

Squirting Fluid

This is also a major vaginal fluid, particularly expelled after sexual stimulation. According to some research, the squirting fluid is released by the Skene's glands found at the urethra inside the vagina. It's commonly referred to as female ejaculation, though scientists are still doing more research to ascertain this. Some suggest that squirting and female ejaculation are significantly different phenomena. Others argue that it's mostly diluted urine released by the bladder during orgasm. Squirting is natural and normal, with nothing to be worried about if it happens during sex.

Signs of An Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

If you notice any change in your vaginal discharge or discomfort, such as itching, pain, or foul odor, it is advisable to consult your doctor. Therefore, it is important to understand the consistency and color of normal vaginal discharge to notice any change. Below are some of the vaginal color changes to look out for.

Grey

Grey vaginal fluid is often a sign of bacterial vaginosis (a common bacterial infection). Get an early checkup from your OB-GYN. With grey vaginal discharge, you may also experience symptoms, such as irritation, strong odor, and itching. It is also important to take note of these symptoms.

Yellow, Green

Very light-yellow vaginal fluid is a normal vaginal discharge. However, if the color is bright yellow or greenish, it may be a sign of Sexually Transmitted Infection and requires immediate checkup. This discharge can be accompanied by a thick, clumpy consistency with a foul odor.

What Causes Vaginal Discharge?

Vaginal discharge keeps the vagina clean and protects it from infections. The acidic secretions are a result of the bacteria found within the vagina. The acidic discharge kills bad bacteria and removes dead cells.

Watery Discharge and Ovulation

You may experience more vaginal discharge during ovulation. This discharge appears to be stretchy and clear, resembling egg whites. It tends to be less watery compared to the discharge women experience during other days of their menstrual cycle.

Effects of Vaginal Discharge on Pregnancy

Most women experience more discharge during pregnancy. Most vaginal discharge is watery and harmless to pregnancy, although some can get infected. Consult your doctor if you notice the following symptoms during pregnancy;

  • A foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • A yellow or green discharge
  • White and cottage cheese discharge
  • Itchiness and pain in the vagina

Abnormal discharge during pregnancy might be a sign of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, or any other type of infection. Vaginal infections due to bacteria and viruses can cause pregnancy complications. Therefore, you are advised to go to a doctor for consultation in case of any symptoms.

However, if you notice a rush of water, it might be because the water broke, and you have to seek medical attention immediately. Also, if it's your last month of pregnancy, it may be a sign of labor. If it is not your due date, it could signify premature labor, and immediate healthcare will be necessary.

Vaginal Discharge and Sexual Arousal

Watery discharge may cause sexual arousal. During arousal, blood flushes inside the vagina influencing the production of lubricating fluids. When sexually aroused,  woman experiences an increase in the vaginal discharge. 

Vaginal Discharge and Menopause

Most people have watery discharge while they are at their menopause. Watery discharge can lead to vaginal atrophy, which makes the vagina thin, and is common to women who have reached menopause.

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