Understanding Normal Vaginal Discharge

Woman underwear with discharge

Many women in their reproductive age are very bothered about any kind of fluid that comes through their vagina. They think that they should be totally dry with no fluid coming out of their vagina and if this should happen they think they are sick. This article seeks to clarify normal vaginal discharge.

All women in their reproductive age – between the onset of periods (menarche) and the end of periods (menopause) – have vaginal discharge all the time. Sometimes it is more and sometimes less but there’ll always be a discharge. Some alterations to the discharge happen in pregnancy and with various contraceptive methods which will be discussed in a later article.

We shall begin by looking at a woman who is in her reproductive age, is not pregnant and is not on any contraception i.e. in their natural state. The following are the changes in discharges that will flow through her vagina in one cycle. A normal monthly cycle ranges amongst women and can be anything between 21 days to 35 days counting from the onset of one menstrual flow to the onset of the next menstrual flow.

These are the discharges:

1. Menstrual flow i.e. bleeding through the vagina – A woman discharges blood through her vagina for a period of 2-8 days. The amount of blood flowing will also vary. Many women experience slight flow on the first day followed by the heavy flow on days 2, 3 and even 4 then the flow either ceases or eases. The majority of women will experience some discomfort or pain more so for women who’ve never delivered a baby since their cervix (the mouth of the womb) is still very narrow and the uterus has to do very strong contractions (squeezing) to push the blood out through the narrow cervix. Many will feel bloated; get backaches, lower abdominal cramps, nausea, and even vomiting. All these are normal accompaniments of menstrual flow.

2. Once the bleeding finishes, there comes a white discharge that looks like flowing milk. It does not smell foul but each person’s discharge smells unique. They all, however, smell feminine. If a woman has a bath daily, this discharge shouldn’t turn foul and no-one else other than her lover would be able to pick it. However, if the vulva is not cleaned for some days, this discharge when trapped between the labia major and the labia minor (the big and small lips of the vulva) will be broken down by bacteria and emit a very foul smell that other people around would pick.

3. About 2 weeks before the onset of the next menstrual flow, a woman generally feels very wet in the vagina. This is also the time of heightened sexual libido in a woman – she’s literally on heat. For 2 or 3 days at this time of her cycle, a woman discharges a slimy clear mucus discharge, similar to the mucus that comes from blowing one’s nose. Sometimes this discharge is slightly blood-stained and this is also normal. Once on the panty, this discharge after coming into contact with oxygen turns white or cream in color. It also becomes dry and flaky. This discharge denotes ovulation (releasing of the female egg) and this is the fertile time. It is then not surprising that a girl will report that she had sexual intercourse only once and got pregnant as this is the time she is most vulnerable i.e. her libido is heightened.

4. Between ovulation and the next menstrual flow is found a thick white discharge that does not easily flow. It lasts between 10 and 14 days after the ovulation mucus. If a woman is not pregnant in that cycle, then there is the onset of blood flow and the cycle repeats again.

Points to Note:

a) All women between menarche and menopause have vaginal discharge.

b) Directly from the vagina (wiped from the vaginal outlet), the discharge is white in color or colorless mucus. Occasionally, the stretchy discharge can be slightly bloody.

c) A fresh discharge does not smell foul. It gives out a woman’s unique scent which is not offensive to other people.

d) A normal discharge does not provoke itching, burning or pain at the vulva.

e) If a woman is in her reproductive age does not clean up her genitalia regularly and properly, she exudes a terribly offensive odor that people around her can pick.

f) In the middle of her cycle, a lady should not wear a panty liner or a tampon to prevent her panty from being soiled. Wearing these items will impede the circulation of very necessary oxygen into the vagina. It is better to soil panties and replace them every few months or so.

g) Pregnancy and various types of contraceptive methods will alter the kind of vaginal discharge a woman gets.

Author: Dr. Jane Wakahe | Founder - She Chooses to Live Initiative
Disclaimer: The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the authors, but it should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.
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