What Are Vaginal Secretions?

Vaginal secretions play an important role in women's health because they have a natural self-cleaning function within the vagina. Additionally, they're also important for sexual health and reproductive functions.
What Are Vaginal Secretions?

Last update: 24 November, 2018

Vaginal secretions are absolutely normal in women and they serve their bodies by cleaning the vagina and removing impurities as well as dead cells.

They’re light or milky colored, usually odorless, and don’t hurt. You should know that the amount and color vary according to what causes the secretions.

Certainly, vaginal secretions come from different parts of the vagina, mainly from the glands located in the cervix.

These glands discharge a slightly viscous fluid that flows along the wall of the vagina on a daily basis. The liquid carries with it any germ that was present, but especially the vagina’s dead cells.

Are vaginal secretions common?

Vaginal secretions are very common in women. In most cases, they indicate that the vagina is perfectly healthy since it has an acidic pH that allows it to protect itself from infections.

A vagina that is in good health regularly releases secretions that expel dead cells and bacteria. In other words, most vaginal discharges are healthy. In essence, it’s a natural way for the body to protect itself.

However, it’s important to know that these fluids are sometimes a sign of infection or illness. For this reason, you need to be able to distinguish between normal and abnormal secretions to ensure your well-being.

What is the normal amount of secretions?

If you produce a lot of vaginal discharge or if it has a different appearance than usual, several factors can intervene:

  • Hormonal changes can influence the amount and smell of secretions.
  • Emissions can change temporarily under the effects of stress and emotions, such as sexual arousal.
  • Some medications, like antibiotics, corticosteroids, and birth control pills can also alter the vaginal flora.
  • Vaginal infections often cause more secretions than normal, and they sometimes have a different color or smell than usual.
What Are Vaginal Secretions?

Reasons that cause vaginal secretions

There are multiple causes that induce a change in the secretions of your vagina. The most common causes of changes in vaginal discharge are the following:

1. Ovulation

In this phase, it’s normal for the secretions to increase in volume. During ovulation, they’re lighter, fibrous, and viscous.

The reason for this change is due to the need to make the passage of sperm easier since it’s the moment in which the egg must be ready to be fertilized.

“Vaginal secretions come from different parts of the vagina, mainly from the glands located in the cervix.”

2. Pregnancy and postpartum

Pregnant women often have an increase in vaginal discharge, which is also different in appearance. This especially happens in the last weeks before delivery, when the secretions start to become thicker and more abundant.

After the birth of the child, vaginal discharge can have a mixture of blood, small clots, and tissue that has detached from the uterine lining, which was developed during pregnancy. As time passes, the secretions gradually become more watery, rosy, and finally reduce completely.

3. Menopause

These hormonal changes that occur in the body are responsible for vaginal secretions during and after menopause. However, in this stage of life, the discharge begins to decrease as the levels of estrogen decline, in the final phase of menopause.

4. Sexual arousal

Watery, clear, or slightly white discharge is a sign of sexual arousal. This type of vaginal fluid is designed to lubricate and protect the vagina during intercourse.

Abnormal vaginal secretions: when should you worry?

If you notice a lumpy discharge with a bad smell, green or yellow tone, and accompanied by fever, burning, itching, and tingling, you may be experiencing some of the symptoms that should worry you.

In these cases, it could be a gynecological infection such as fungus, a parasite, or a more serious infection that spreads to the lower abdomen.

From this point on, the opinion of a doctor or a gynecologist is highly recommended. Keep in mind that some infections can spread to the uterine horns and cause infertility.

What Are Vaginal Secretions?

What are the symptoms of abnormal vaginal discharge?

Some signs that may indicate abnormal vaginal discharge and infection are:

  • Change in color, consistency, and quantity.
  • Constant increase in secretions.
  • Itching or discomfort.
  • Vaginal burning during urination.
  • Presence of blood outside of the menstrual period.
  • Discharge with a similar consistency to ricotta.
  • Unpleasant smell accompanied by yellowish, greenish, or whitish vaginal discharge.

Lastly, we recommend that you try to apply good vaginal hygiene, choosing a soft and soap-free product or washing your vagina only with water.

During menstruation, it’s also necessary to change the pad regularly to avoid any type of irritation.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.