Every woman+ has vaginal discharge but very few women know the secret benefits of this sometimes annoying liquid.
Vaginal discharge describes any fluid that comes out of the vagina. These fluids are largely made up of cervical mucus, vaginal fluid, and bacteria. These fluids have multiple benefits; from cleaning the vagina to hospitably transporting sperm – vaginal discharge is a powerful biological mechanic.
No – it’s not dirty!
Thanks to feminine hygiene adverts we’ve been led to believe that vaginal discharge is smelly, unclean and damn right bad! The reality is vaginal discharge is an important and necessary bodily function that indicates your vagina is doing its job and cleaning itself!
Your vagina is a powerful and balanced ecosystem made up of specific bacterias and moisture unique to each individual. Because of this, the vagina is a fussy thing and super sensitive to changes both inside and outside of the body. It doesn’t like its ecosystem to be off-balance!
Despite this sensitivity vaginal discharge will tend to follow a predictable, cyclical pattern that is aligned with your menstrual cycle. So if you’re looking carefully you’ll notice different types of fluid across your menstrual cycle.
This change occurs in unison with the hormone changes during your cycle amending the appearance, consistency and volume of the fluid. When you’re aroused or pregnant your discharge will also change – once again because your hormones have changed!
Unlocking the Power of Discharge
Now we’re not grossed out by discharge let’s talk about its superpower. You see, if you pay close attention to the fluid in your underwear you can tell some really important things about your health, such as what part of your cycle you’re on, when you’re most likely to get pregnant and if you’ve caught an STI.
Getting to know your discharge is like having an internal mirror to your body. It makes it much easier to spot when something is up with your body and can be an early indicator to talk to a medical professional.
Learning how to read that internal mirror is pretty simple. Forget being grossed out and ashamed – harnessing that fluid in your underwear is going to give you full control of your body.
Getting to Know Your Vaginal Discharge
As we said vaginal discharge changes in unison with your bodies hormonal patterns, so understanding your own patterns is the key to unlocking your internal mirror.
Healthy vaginal discharge can range from white to clear, and from thick to slippery consistencies.
Here is how to spot your vaginal discharge changes throughout each phase of the menstrual cycle, so you can harness the power of vaginal fluid.
Day 1 (first day of your period)
Estrogen and progesterone levels are low. As estrogen levels help to produce vaginal discharge there isn’t much fluid.
You’ll have your period. The blood will mix with your cervical mucus and you won’t notice any discharge. In the following days, there will be little to no vaginal discharge!
Estrogen levels are rising leading to more production of vaginal discharge. As you’re outside of your fertile window, and the body doesn’t bet its chances on pregnancy, your vaginal mucus during this phase is intentionally thick to prohibit sperm entering your uterus.
This discharge may be thick and sticky, becoming more wet and creamy as the days go on. If you’ve ever noticed whitish, cream colours in your underwear this is this liquid dried.
Ovulation causes much more cervical fluid. This is to provide the sperm with a hospitable environment so they can survive for long. Usually, the vagina is an acidic environment but this phases’ vaginal discharge makes it a comfortable space for sperm.
Vaginal discharge will resemble raw egg whites: clear, slippery and stretchy. The amount of vaginal discharge can be up to 10–20 times more than other points in the cycle – so don’t worry if you’re feeling super slippy down there.
By this point, your body is so over trying to conceive! Progesterone takes the lead in this phase, reducing the cervix’s ability to secret fluid and prohibiting sperm from travelling through. Your vagina is also helping to support the potential fertilised egg by creating a barrier of thick discharge against bacteria.
Vaginal discharge will again become sticky or tacky, or just dry and absent. Just like it was at the beginning of your cycle!
It’s important to know what’s normal for you. Everyone’s vagina and menstrual cycle are completely different so you need to get to grips on what changes happen for you and when.