Most people were never taught about the fluids that come out of a vagina and what they look like, especially when a person isn’t on their period. There’s no shame in being in the dark, but if you have a vagina it’s good to know what your discharge means, and that there’s nothing wrong with you for having it! Even if you don’t have a vagina, it’s time for you to learn.
Blood on your period is the discharge that people tend to be most familiar with, but it isn’t always red! Period blood is commonly very dark or bright red, pink, or brown. It can even be gray or black, but that is a sign that you should get checked out by your healthcare provider. Most people have periods that last 2-7 days, and that often includes spotting for a few days before or after the main flow. With both color and timing of your period, and any discharge, there are no standardized rules – it is important to understand what is normal for your body and to see a doctor if that changes.
Getting wet when aroused:
The fluid that you may feel when you are aroused (or even exercising) is not exactly the same as the cervical fluid that you likely notice throughout the rest of your cycle. Some of that fluid does come from the cervix, but the rest is mostly water and comes from the Bartholin’s glands near the entrance to the vagina. Different people produce different amounts of this fluid and at different rates – remember to always consider using a safe lube if you are putting a penis or sex toy in your vagina!
Discharge in-between your period and ovulation:
For a few days after your period, you will likely notice a decrease in the cervical fluid that your body produces. From then until you ovulate, cervical fluid tends to be thick, sticky, and creamy. It may look cloudy, white, or even yellowish. Pay attention to what this fluid looks like for you, because changes in what is normal to you may signal an infection. Some people like to wear panty-liners during this time, others don’t. Either way, make sure you are changing your underwear frequently to decrease chances of an infection!
Just before and during ovulation:
For a few days before ovulation, and on the day that your follicles release an egg, discharge tends to be clear, slippery and stretchy. This cervical fluid occurs at the time in your cycle that pregnancy is possible, and the fluid is just the right consistency to assist semen in reaching an egg.
Between ovulation and the next period:
This stage often shows a decrease in the cervical fluid or discharge that you might, but it is different for everybody! The cervical fluid that you do notice may be more sticky than in the rest of your cycle.
When to be concerned:
The main rule for when to be concerned or see a doctor is if something changes from what is normal for your body. If you experience any discomfort, itching, or burning, it may be a UTI, STI, or other form of infection. The same is important to note for unusual colors, consistency, or odor. Cottage-cheese-like discharge with a strong smell is a common sign of a yeast infection. Most people experience infections, and it is usually nothing to be concerned about as long as you catch it early and see your doctor!
Featured image via Sydney Soganich.
Sydney Soganich is a writer for Sex and the Crescent City. She is a Freshman majoring in Political Science on the premed track. If she's not working, she's probably reading a romance novel or watching a romcom!