Demystifying Discharge 💦
By: Julia Pintar
You’re at a summer picnic you’ve had planned forever, and all of a sudden, you feel something. Am I bleeding? Was it pee? Is it just discharge? I am NOT about to ruin my white pants, you think.
Your discharge can tell you a lot about your body and your hormone cycle, and Aavia is here to break it down:
What is discharge?
Discharge, also known as cervical mucus, is a natural secretion from glands inside the vagina and cervix (the passage at the end of the uterus that connects the uterus to the vagina). Discharge has a lot of important functions, from providing lubrication during sex and fighting off vaginal bacteria, and it’s 100% normal and healthy!
What discharge is normal and what might need medical attention? Let’s discuss:
Follicular 1: Menstruation
The first day of your cycle is also the first day of your period, kicking off the follicular phase. As progesterone levels drop, the uterine lining sheds and the monthly period begins. With hormone levels at an all-time low, the cervix creates less fluid.
Directly following your period, estrogen slowly rises, which means there will likely be less discharge in this phase until estrogen levels rise again.
There’s lots of misinformation out there on how different period products can negatively impact vaginal health. Unfortunately, not enough research has been done to be conclusive about what is really the best period product; the best product is the one that feels comfortable to you and matches your flow!
Here are Aavia’s science-backed tips for a healthy vagina during your period:
- Change your tampon every 4-8 hours, depending on flow
- Avoid scented products, like vaginal washes or douches.
- Choose tampons that match your flow (using the lowest absorbency needed)
- Wash hands before and after using products
- Don’t wear a menstrual cup for more than 12 hours
- Thoroughly wash your menstrual cup between each use
- Change & wash period underwear as directed!
Follicular 2: Pre-ovulation ☀️
Estrogen peaks during the second half of your follicular phase following your period, making it time to socialize! All the feel-good, fun, and flirty energy enters the room! Your body is preparing for ovulation during this period. Discharge during this phase has a lotion-y like creamy and sticky consistency. It can even resemble a yellowish appearance once dried.
As you approach ovulation, you may begin to feel more wet. If you’re on day 12-14 of your cycle and feeling more liquid down there, it’s likely not your period– no need to run for the closest toilet. Extra discharge is just your body preparing for ovulation.
If you are having sex that can cause pregnancy and a baby isn’t in the plan, this is the time to use protection! You can tell that you are approaching ovulation when your discharge starts to look thicker and creamier, with a yogurt-like texture 🍨. Closest to ovulation, discharge will look like raw egg whites and can be stretched inches between your fingers. This slippery discharge makes it easier for sperm to swim up the vagina!
What this means: For those actively trying to AVOID a baby, make sure to use protection if having penetrative sex at this time. If you’re trying for a baby, go for it! Your body is ready and giving you the green light that it’s prepared.
Luteal: Post-ovulation 🌜
Following ovulation, discharge decreases! Without natural lubrication from discharge, sex might feel more uncomfortable. Grab some lube to keep things feeling good!
Discharge at this time is typically dry and tacky or absent altogether. Expect lower amounts of discharge for about 12-14 days following ovulation. Your period might be starting soon, so if you’re feeling some wetness, it might be time to stock up on tampons, pads, and all of your comfort snacks!
When Discharge is Irregular:
Remember, discharge is totally normal and should be expected throughout the cycle. However, irregular discharge can be a sign of an irregular menstrual cycle, pH imbalance, or bacterial overgrowth. If you notice any of these symptoms, you might want to check in with your doctor:
- Texture or amount that differs significantly from YOUR normal
- Grey or green color throughout your cycle
- Brown color that isn’t close to your period dates
- Fishy or foul smell
- Pain, itchiness, or swelling
Discharge is a little bit different for everybody, so you are the best at knowing when it’s different for you. Track with Aavia to get to know your body better and understand the fluctuations throughout your cycle 💜