Discharge. Various types of discharge. Discharge during different phases of the menstruation cycle, which manifests slowly and then accelerates, or appears suddenly. Discharge that smells acidic, like sour milk, or discharge that smells like fish. White, yellow, transparent, thin, watery, thick, or stringy. It may have an acidic smell, similar to sour milk, or smell like fish, which is a typical symptom of bacterial vaginosis.
Discharge consists mostly of cervical secretions, vaginal wall fluid, and lactobacilli that contribute to the acidic environment in the vagina. Having vaginal discharge is perfectly normal; it is the vaginas own method for cleansing. On the contrary, douching the vagina and using intimate soaps may harm the beneficial vaginal bacteria (the vaginal microbiota) and could cause alterations to the discharge.
The color of a healthy vaginal discharge ranges from white to translucent. It may be viscous, somewhat slimy, or thin. To some extent, the discharge reflects your health status and fertility. Your discharge can even indicate if you have contracted an infection or a sexually transmitted disease. Getting to know your vaginal and inspecting your discharge makes it easier to discover when something is wrong with your vaginal health.
Why is the consistency and the color of your vaginal discharge constantly changing? The consistency, the quantity, and the color changes during the menstrual cycle, and the characteristics of the vaginal discharge is correlated to the vaginal needs during a specific phase of the cycle. The hormones that control the menstrual cycle also regulate the contents of the discharge and thus its color, consistency, etc.
During menstruation, the discharge consists of mucus produced by the cervix and the vaginal wall, mixed with blood. Over the subsequent days, the amount of discharge being produced is usually relatively small. Immediately after the menstruation ends, the discharge is often intermixed with blood, which may give it a rusty, brown, or pink color. This is merely the cervix way of clearing out the last of the menstruation blood. In the following days, the discharge often diminishes. The consistency of the fluid changes and may be slightly thicker, and the color varies between white and yellowish.
During the days prior to ovulation, many women report an increased discharge volume, which can be perceived as creamy in consistency.
The amount of discharge peaks in connection with the ovulation. At this time the discharge have a consistency that resembles raw egg whites, and it is more stretchy and somewhat stringy. This is sometimes referred to as egg white discharge. This type of discharge is flexible enough to be stretched out from the thumb to the index finger.
After ovulation, the amount of vaginal discharge usually decreases. Sometimes there is none at all. In the next cycle, the discharge becomes more abundant again, and it is not unusual for it to turn more yellowish .
Menstruation is sometimes preceded by light breakthrough bleeding right before onset. During this time, the discharge can vary widely in consistency.
Discharge varies between individuals, and it is important that you get to know your own body. By keeping track of how your discharge changes throughout the menstrual cycle, you can more easily detect when something is not quite right with your vaginal health. Read more about symptoms and diagnoses that you should pay attention to.