Saying that phrase out loud can still create discomfort in some women, typing it into google is usually a solution for answering a question and proof that it is a hot topic to a lot of women and yet still shrouded in a little mystery and often met with reluctance to talk about it. It’s always tricky to tackle issues that carry a taboo, however, vaginal discharge is normal and healthy and can even guide you into knowing what’s going on in your cycle based on the colour and consistency.
The more we talk about these issues the more we can feel comfortable with our own bodies natural functions and if necessary find a way to manage them. So, let’s have a look.
WHAT IS VAGINAL DISCHARGE?
Most importantly, Discharge is a perfectly normal and healthy physiological occurrence.
Simply put, vaginal discharge is a term that encompasses any non-period fluid that leaves our vagina, and can be made up of a few different fluid combos depending on the time of the month, including vaginal lubrication, arousal fluid and cervical fluid. Also known as cervical mucus, cervical fluid is one major component of vaginal discharge. Produced by the cells in our cervix, cervical fluid changes throughout our cycle from dry to wet, creamy to sticky.
Discharge is part of the menstrual cycle, occurring from puberty through to the menopause. Serving as an indicator that a woman’s reproductive system and genitals are working as they should be.
WHAT DOES VAGINAL DISCHARGE DO?
We know that the complex inner workings of the female reproductive system are extremely well orchestrated, so everything going on down there has a purpose. So what does the vaginal discharge do?
The vaginal discharge, majority made up of cervical fluid, is secreted by the cervix for numerous reasons.
As the cervical fluid runs down the vaginal wall it moves away any germs and dead cells that may be there that aren’t needed or wanted. This is your vaginas way of keeping itself clean and healthy, while keeping a balance in it’s very unique eco-system to protect against any bacteria or viruses and external risks.
Discharge also helps the sperm to travel up to the egg during ovulation. This is why discharge can appear to be heavier during the time of your cycle around ovulation. It also blocks sperm from traveling through in your least fertile days running up to your period.
Discharge also helps to maintain the vaginas hydration and lubrication for a healthy vagina and reproductive system. You do not need to wash your vagina with soap, water or any femme care products as this can disturb the carefully balanced eco-system your vagina maintains all by itself!
CHANGES IN YOUR VAGINAL DISCHARGE
At the beginning of our cycle – day one of our period, our oestrogen levels are low due to having our period, equally oestrogen controls the amount of cervical fluid being released, so the cervix is not producing much fluid at all at this time, as you have your period other fluids would go unnoticed.
In the days just after your period, your oestrogen levels are rising, but not enough to be producing any cervical fluid, most women won’t notice any discharge at this time.
Leading up to our ovulation time the cervical fluid increases as the oestrogen levels rise, producing a thick or sticky discharge. It may look whitish or even yellowish. This discharge fluid may be first noticed around day 9 or 10 of a menstrual cycle.
As our ovulation time approaches, more cervical fluid is being produced. Your vagina will likely feel much wetter and fluids become more slippery. As oestrogen peaks, 1-2 days before ovulation cervical fluid often resembles a raw egg-white consistency. The amount of vaginal discharge at this time is different for everyone. This can also be referred to as ovulation discharge. The cervical fluid around your ovulation time helps to maintain a fertile window of up to six days, much longer than the 12-24 hours when an egg can be fertilised after ovulation. Sperm that enters the vagina before ovulation can be suspended in the fluid, allowing it to survive longer. When ovulation does occur the stretchy discharge fluid becomes the easiest type of fluid for sperm to swim through to reach the egg for ovulation. (very clever stuff!)
Once ovulation is over the vaginal discharge changes again, in the day or two after ovulation occurs the amount of fluid decreases quickly. The oestrogen levels begin to drop, progesterone levels rise and act to inhibit the secretion of fluid from the cervix cells. You might have noticed that the vaginal discharge is often thicker and heavier, and a possible change in colour being more yellowish in the days leading up to your period. Once again, this is totally normal. All it means is that your vagina is getting rid of all its dead skin cells and the progesterone levels that are increasing are reducing the amount of fluid being secreted by the cervix. This then leads us back to menstruation for our cycle to start all over again.
MANAGING THE DISCHARGE
As much as we can reinforce that discharge is completely normal and healthy, it can still make some women feel uncomfortable. Some women can require sanitary protection even outside of the period to control absorption, which isn’t such a great solution every day of the month, not for the body or the planet. The plastic content of disposable sanitary liners can cause overheating or additional moistness in the vaginal area, which can cause further issues. The heavy absorbency of sanitary liners and tampons can be too absorbent, leading to vaginal dryness and creating a predisposition to thrush. The chemicals found in disposable liners and sanitary protection are also not good for the most intimate and delicate area of our bodies.
Organic and sustainable Rosaseven period lingerie is a great solution for dealing with vaginal discharge when it becomes a little heavy. The moisture of the discharge is wicked away leaving your body free to breath as normal, allowing your vagina to go about its normal routine of keeping the unique eco-system in balance.