bump physio co blog vaginal discharge 101 is this normal

Being a vagina owner often comes with some “sticky” situations and vaginal discharge is no exception!

We often get questions from clients about their vaginal discharge, including the color, smell, texture, and amount. At the end of the day, many of them just want to know if their discharge is “normal”. We are here to debunk this mystery fluid and discuss what kind of discharge is healthy, and what might be considered not so….healthy.

Vaginal discharge (also called “Leukorrhea”) is a fluid secreted from glands in the vagina and cervix. It’s typically made of up bacteria, cervical mucus, and fluid secreted by your vaginal glands. Its main role is to remove old cells and debris from the vaginal tissue. If you’ve ever heard the phrase or saying “your vagina is a self-cleaning oven”, discharge is how it achieves this! Vaginal discharge is a HEALTHY bodily function and fluid, and it indicates that your vagina is cleansing itself.

What is Normal Discharge?

The amount of vaginal discharge varies significantly from person to person, and the color and consistency often changes based on where an individual is at in their cycle. Here is a breakdown of those common bodily changes!

The Menstrual Phase

  • Discharge mixes with blood from the uterine lining. As a result, you will typically not notice any mucus.
  • This can appear red, or brown if the uterus is expelling older blood

The Follicular Phase

  • In the few days after menstruation is completed, there is typically less discharge than usual. At times, discharge may be completely absent
  • Leading up to ovulation, estrogen levels will start to increase and the cervix will increase in mucus production
  • Typically this appears as white, milky discharge with a thicker consistency and cloudy in color

The Ovulation Phase

  • Estrogen levels will peak a couple days before ovulation. This typically cause higher amountsof discharge being produced
  • The mucus becomes thin, sticky, clear, similar to an egg white consistency.
  • To test if you’re ovulating: stretch discharge between your index finger and thumb. If the clear mucus stretches between your two fingers, you’re likely ovulating!

The Luteal Phase

  • Following ovulation there is a significant drop in the amount of discharge. During this phase you may notice that the mucus feels dry, lighter in color, or totally absent
  • In the luteal phase, progesterone will peak to support a potential pregnancy and will dampen the amount of cervical mucus being produced

As you can see, vaginal discharge goes through phases along with your cycle and follows somewhat of a consistent pattern. Getting to know your discharge can be extremely helpful in tracking where you are in your menstrual cycle, as well as identifying when something might not be right.

Knowing what is normal for your body and if things have gone off track will help you know what is healthy for you, and when to seek further support from your GP!

In general, healthy discharge should be odorless, light or clear in color, and thick/sticky/slippery/or stretchy. Variations from this may indicate unhealthy conditions or vaginal infections.

When to see your Healthcare Provider?

Below is a list of common mucus changes that suggest a follow up with your healthcare professional to discuss…

  • Strong odor
  • Bloody discharge outside of menstruation
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Clumpy or foamy discharge (like “cottage cheese”)
  • Grey/green/yellow color
  • Itching

How to Maintain Healthy Bodily Discharge?

Vaginal discharge is a completely normal and wonderful function that helps keep your vaginal tissue healthy! Although discharge can vary between people and it is important that we seek to maintain the health of our own body’s individual discharge pattern – Here is what this can look like!

  • Clean the vulva with plain water on the outside of the tissue only. Avoid using soap on the tissue internally
  • After voiding, wipe front to back to avoid bacteria from entering the vaginal tissue and causing infection
  • Use 100% cotton products around and inside the vagina (underwear, tampons, pads, etc.)

Savanna Rowe, MPT
🍉 Registered Interim Physiotherapist

Bump Physio & Co is a community of health care providers dedicated to changing the way pelvic health and obstetrical services are delivered. Our two clinics locations are Port Moody and Langley BC, where we welcome clients from all stages and phases of life! Our team has advanced training in Pelvic Health, Orthopedics, Obstetrics, Clinical Pilates, Active Rehabilitation and More!

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