What is vaginal discharge and how does it affect women’s health?

What is vaginal discharge and how does it affect women’s health?


Vaginal fluid is different from period fluids or blood. It happens to be any non-period fluid that discharges from your vaginae, such as any vaginal lubrication you use, arousal fluid, day-old sperm, and cervical mucus. Cervical fluid is also known as cervical mucus. And it is the major component of vaginal discharge. It is produced by the cells present in the cervix. Cervical fluid composition changes from time to time. Sometimes it is dry, sometimes it is wet. It can also be creamystretchy, eggy, and sticky. 

Cervical fluid can be tracked as to when it is discharged, how much it is discharged, and what is its composition. All this will help in understanding your body better. You can understand what hormonal changes and events are happening in your body. Like, such as when your estrogen level is rising, at what period ovulation happens, and when you do not feel the need for any lubeIf you know your vaginal discharge and the cervical fluid cycle then you can also recognize when something is not right, such as if you have any infection or any health problems due to the hormones.

Why do we have cervical fluid?

Cervical fluid is necessary to get pregnant just like an egg and a sperm. Cervical fluid allows the sperm to enter your uterus and meet the egg during ovulation. The cervix connects your lower and upper reproductive tract. Fluid is produced around the glands which are present in the cervix of a woman. Though the volume, composition, and consistency of cervical fluid change from woman to woman and along with your reproductive hormones. During your ovulation cycle, the changes in your cervical fluid can make it difficult, or easy for sperm to reach your uterus.

The cervical fluid also protects sperm from any harm your reproductive system can cause,like the acidity of the vagina, and have antibodies that prevent any unhealthy bacteria and viruses to enter the uterus. 

How you can know your cervical fluid? 

As discussed above it might help you in knowing the changes going on in your body by keeping the track of vaginal discharge.

• You can know your cervical fluid by looking and feeling for the consistencyamount, and color of the fluid. You can also tell by feeling if your vagina is wet or dry. If anything changes in your cervical fluid then you can know by noticing any of the changes in the consistency, volume, and color of the vaginal discharge. You can use your fingers to feel the fluid at the entrance of your vulva, or you can feel it at the cervix. What you want to do is to look for color and composition. Feel for thickness, wetness, slipperiness, and stretchiness of the cervical fluid. 
• Another way to look for fluid is by checking your toilet paper if you use it or by checking your underwear. You can know that it is the cervical fluid if it is visible on the tissue and underwear and is different from your other vaginal moisture. This method is less confusing than the other one of feeling fluid with your fingers. Touching the vulva directly can make it harder to differentiate between the cervical fluid and general lubrication.
• If you want you can try another method. In this method, you can try dipping your fingers covered with fluid into a glass of water. If the fluid sticks to your fingers or sinks to the bottom of the glass then it is cervical fluid. Normal vaginal moisture, on the other hand, dissolves in the water. 

It may take some time for you to find a method that works best for you. Just keep in mind that you can confuse the sperm or arousal fluid for cervical fluid after the day of sex.

How and what changes occur in vaginal discharge during your cycle?

1. Beginning of the cycle

On the first day of your period, your hormone levels that is both estrogen and progesterone are low. And since estrogen levels are responsible for your cervical fluid production, the cervix does not produce much fluid at all the time of your period. And you may not be able to tell if you are having a vaginal discharge since you’ll be discharging blood on your periods.

2. Just after the end of your period.

When your period ends the estrogen level rises in your body. Estrogen level determines the production of cervical fluid. Soyou may feel after some time the cervical fluid is discharged. It may be low in volume as it takes a little time for the estrogen to rise. And most women won’t notice any cervical fluid for a couple of days until estrogen is higher.

3. Leading up to ovulation.

With the rise in estrogen levels, the cervix can make more fluid. At first, the fluid might be thick and sticky and then it can become more wet and creamy, like a lotion. The fluid color may be whitish or even yellowish. In this 28-day menstrual cycle, you may first notice thfluid around the ninth or tenth day of the cycle.

4. Around ovulation

When ovulation begins the cervical fluid can be eggy, wet, slippery, clear, and stretchy. Around the time of ovulation, much more cervical fluid is produced. You may start to feel much wetter in your vagina with fluid becoming more slippery as its water content rises. After a couple of days, the fluid will become stretchier and clearer. Before the 1-2 days of ovulation, cervical fluid looks like a raw egg white that can be stretched between your thumb and finger

The volume of vaginal discharge at this time differs from woman to woman, but it is usually higher by 10-20 than at any other point in the cycle. At this time the cervical fluid is made up of 95 percent water and 5 percent solids (electrolytes, organic compounds, and soluble proteins). Many people call this the ovulation discharge. 

5. Luteal phase

It is the phase that starts before your menstrual cycle and after the end of your ovulation cycle. When the ovulation is over, vaginal discharge changes once again. In this, the cervical fluid becomes more fibrous and it makes it difficult for sperm to pass through and reach the uterus. In the day or two after ovulation when the luteal phase begins, the amount and consistency of fluid decreases. Progesterone is the hormone that is more dominant than estrogen in this phaseThis progesterone obstructs the secretion of fluid from the cervix’s epithelial cells. Fluid can become sticky or tacky, or it may be just dry and absent.

And after this menstruation begins and the cycle of cervical fluid starts again. Every woman’s body is unique. And the changes in your body may be different from other woman’s bodies. Your experience with vaginal discharge may be different

The reason why cervical fluid changes

Sowhat is the reason for changes in your cervical fluid that happens during the cycle? Each change has its own functionCervical fluid helps in reproduction. It creates a fertile window that lasts till six days long which is much longer than the 12-24 hours window that opens up after ovulation when an egg can be fertilizedThe sperm that enters the vagina before you start your ovulation can remain in this fluid which allows it to survive longer than the other timesSperm starts making its way through the cervical discharge on the 9th day of a 28-day cycle. When ovulation occurs, the stretchy fluid that looks like raw egg white makes it's way easily through a woman’s body and enters the uterus joining the egg. But not all sperm can enter the body. This fluid acts as a filter in choosing the best sperm. The slow swimmers get left behind, as do sperm with motility or structural abnormalities.

Then when the ovulation cycle is over and the opportunity to get pregnant has closed, the cervical fluid acts as a barrier. It prevents sperm from entering the upper reproductive tract. In the luteal phase, the progesterone that is produced acts as birth control. It turns cervical fluid dense with its composition being solid, with little water, which makes it difficult for sperm to even enter the uterus.

Signs of abnormal vaginal discharge

Changes in your cervical fluid are normal and no same woman will have the same pattern. But if you notice any change in your pattern it can be a sign of a hormonal issue. This usually goes with the changes in the length of your cycle and period. It can be abnormal if you have an infection in your vaginaSo, the symptoms and signs of abnormal discharge include changes:

• When the consistency changesIt may become unusually thin, or thick and more textured/chunky.
• When the color changes from white to grey, green, yellow, or brown
• When there is a significant change in volume
• Also, when it starts emitting a foul odor. Such as fishy, metallic, or just different.

Vaginal discharge is a normal process and function of a woman’s body. It does not indicate any health issues, though, it may be alarming if the discharge does not happen normally. Among the discharges from your vagina, the cervical fluid or mucus is the most common one and if you notice any changes in its usual pattern then it may be a sign of some health issue.

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