Vaginal discharge gets a bad rap. But in fact, discharge not only keeps your vagina clean (pretty cool) but can also tell you a lot about what’s going on in your cycle (very cool).
Your vaginal discharge is made up of cervical mucus, vaginal fluid, and bacteria. Here’s how it changes throughout your cycle:
During your period, blood mixes with any discharge and so it’s pretty difficult to know what’s going on. And in the couple of days after you stop bleeding, vaginal discharge is usually almost entirely absent.
Leading up to ovulation, your oestrogen levels will be rising and so your cervix will start to produce more fluid. This is usually thick, white (ish) and creamy, like lotion.
Around ovulation, you’ll produce the most discharge of your cycle. Your discharge will probably be slippery and clear, like raw egg whites. You can usually stretch this discharge between your fingers.
In the luteal phase (right after ovulation), progesterone rises and inhibits the secretion of cervical mucus. In other words, you’ll find your discharge is stickier, drier, or maybe just non-existent.
After this, your period will probably arrive and the rollercoaster of discharge will begin again.
Vaginal discharge is completely normal. Never use douches, vaginal steams, or washes to clean your vaginal - it is already clean!
If you have discharge that doesn’t look or smell quite right - it could be green, grey, frothy, cottage cheesy, or fishy-smelling - go and see your doctor or visit a sexual health clinic. Discharge of this kind can be an indication of STIs or thrush, and it’s important you get help as soon as you can.