Vaginal Discharge: What is Normal and What is Not?

>> Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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Vaginal discharge in women is normal,and what is normal changes throughout a woman's menstrual cycle, pregnancy,and a woman's lifetime. Thankfully we will be covering this topic in detail for all of you over the next several weeks.

As a woman and a physician I think it is so important for each of you to get to know your own bodies and how it functions. As your body cycles through the month, the change in hormones that cause ovulation and allows for menstruation, also will change the consistency and amount of vaginal discharge. After our menstrual cycle ends, women will notice a thick, creamy whitish discharge for the next week. This is normal and should not have an odor or cause itching, burning or any type of vaginal pain or irritation.

With ovulation comes a clear, sticky discharge that is very distinct in that it can look and feel like a stringy mucous. For fertility purposes,this discharge can be graded in its stretchability. This has a name called 'spinnbarkeit'. The better it stretches, the more likely is ovulation and fertility! Once ovulation has ended, (about 72 hrs) then the vaginal discharge will become clear and watery due to the post-ovulation progesterone effect as the egg passes from the body. Some women can also have a transient change in odor.

In menopause women will have a reduction of female hormones and this causes a decrease in vaginal discharge. Pregnancy, because there is such an increase in estrogen (the primary female hormone), will significantly increase vaginal discharge.

If you can begin to trust and understand how your body functions normally, then it will be easier for you to know what it means when you see changes. When there is abnormal discharge, the change will be significant.

Sometimes there will be an abnormal amount of discharge and the color may change to yellow, green, brownish, gray or may have some blood in it, that is not associated with menses. Also abnormal discharge is usually accompanied by an unusual odor that
causes distress. This is because it is usually associated with infection.

So, I hope this helps you to begin to understand your body better as a woman. Normal discharge is usually clear or white and rarely has an odor. It is normal to have vaginal discharge.

All women have it, just be aware of any changes and don't be afraid to ask questions.
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