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Vaginal Discharge? Yeah, It’s Normal

Vaginal discharge is an important bodily fluid that gives clues to reproductive health, fertility and menstrual cycles. It also can point to pregnancy, infection or an undiagnosed condition.

Normal vaginal discharge can happen every day or every few days and usually is clear or milky white. It may have a subtle scent.

Produced by glands inside the vagina and cervix, vaginal discharge keeps the vagina clean and moist while also providing lubrication during sexual intercourse, says Dr. Cielo D. Gnecco, a board-certified OB-GYN at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital Center for Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Dr. Gnecco advises against using feminine hygiene products that claim to keep you fresh.  “Your vagina,” she says, “is self-cleaning.”

Fertility and Pregnancy

Vaginal discharge can be a useful indicator of fertility levels, since it changes over the course of your menstrual cycle. In the two weeks directly after a menstrual period, vaginal discharge is thinner and drier with a white, cloudy or chalky color. At this point, you are about two weeks before ovulation, indicating low fertility.

After ovulation, in the two weeks leading up to the next menstrual cycle, vaginal discharge can become thicker, almost like raw egg white. This isn’t just an indicator of high fertility, it also helps sperm travel faster up the reproductive channel and stick better once there.

When Vaginal Discharge Can Be a Warning Sign

Talk to your doctor if your discharge:

  • Has an unexpected smell
  • Contains blood
  • Is grayish, which could point to bacterial vaginosis
  • Is yellow or greenish, which could point to a sexually transmitted disease
  • Has a lumpy texture, which could point to a yeast infection

While it can be awkward to discuss these issues with your doctor, your visit can help end uncomfortable symptoms, and even save your life.

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