Every woman experiences vaginal discharge to some extent throughout her life, whether it’s during sex, during ovulation or during first trimester of pregnancy. While the amount of discharge is not necessarily concerning, the presence of a bad odor, abnormal color or genital discomfort usually indicate that you have an infection. In order to avoid wrongly diagnosing the underlying cause of the discharge, you need to understand how your body works, and what role vaginal mucus really plays.
In this article, we are talking about when vaginal discharge is normal and when not, and how to track the changes that it suffers throughout your menstrual cycle.
What Is Normal Vaginal Discharge Supposed to Look Like?
Vaginal discharge (or cervical mucus) refers to the fluid produced by glands inside of your vagina and cervix, which is usually made up of dead cells and bacteria living in the vaginal flora. The role of this fluid is keeping your vagina clean and healthy and preventing bacteria or other organisms from traveling up to your uterus. The amount of vaginal discharge varies from woman to woman and depends on a couple of factors – for example, pregnant women experience a lot more discharge due to hormonal changes, but non-pregnant women may also experience lots of discharge during ovulation. On average, the vagina produces about one teaspoon of discharge per day.
Normal discharge is usually clear or whitish, and its consistency usually ranges from clumpy to uncooked egg white to watery depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. Normally, the discharge shouldn’t bear any odor although it may sometimes smell a bit musky, and it shouldn’t be accompanied by any itching, swelling, redness, burning or pain.
How Does Your Menstrual Cycle Affect Vaginal Discharge?
As already mentioned, the hue, consistency and amount of vaginal mucus are largely influenced by the time in your menstrual cycle. At certain times of the cycle, your body produces more estrogen, which causes your vagina to produce more discharge. Below we have highlighted the types of discharge you should expect to see from the time your period ends to the time your next period starts.