Women just get it all. Even if you’re not on your period, you’re experiencing some kind of leakage – which differs depending on the time of the month and your cycle, but we’ll get to that. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenager or a mum or somewhere in between, this gooey vaginal liquid will no doubt conjur a feeling of discomfort when it comes to sex. Like, ahh, are my undies wet? Will they see it? Will they smell it? Will they feel it?  *quickly pulls off undies and throws them into the corner of the room* 

Oh yeah, we’ve all been there. And it’s not going to change, so we better get familiar with this topic and work our way around it. 

Why do we have it in the first place? 

To get comfortable with discharge, it first helps to understand the purpose of discharge and how it changes throughout the month. Once you know the different types, you’ll probably start noticing it more and how it’s connected to your cycle. 

The basic breakdown is as follows: 

  • A few days after your period finishes your body starts producing mucus, preparing for ovulation. It may be yellow, white, or cloudy. The mucus generally feels gluey or stretchy in consistency. 
  • Just before you ovulate, usually a week or so after your period, you may see more clear, stretchy, watery, and slippery mucus. This mucus may remind you of the consistency of egg whites. It’s there to help the sperm find and attach to your egg for fertilization. 
  • After ovulation there’ll be less discharge. It may turn thicker, cloudy, or gluey again. Some women experience dry days during this time. 

And other days it’s just there, because it is. And for the most part that’s completely normal, and we have to learn to live with it. And that’s going to include sex at some point or another. 

Quick note: noticing discharge that’s smelly and thick, or associated with itchiness or other pain? It may be thrush or an STI or STD. Best to chat to a pharmacist or doctor about this. 

Living with it, and sex

On the ABC podcast Ladies, We Need to Talk with Yumi Stynes, Dr Deborah Bateson,  associate professor at Sydney University and medical director of Family Planning NSW, shed some light on the topic

And light, is in fact, what our discharge flow is overall. 

“The normal amount of vaginal discharge that’s produced every 24 hours is somewhere between 1 and 4 millilitres. So, a little less than a full teaspoon,” Dr Bateson said.

See ladies, what do we even have to worry about? But if you are worried about it, relax – many of us are in the same boat. As Dr Bateson says, “Many women feel very anxious about something that’s very normal, and [are made to] feel that we should all be smelling of rose petals or something.”

Unrealistic body standards much? We really need to give ourselves a break. 

And actually, when it comes to sex, discharge can actually be a service to us. 

Vaginal discharge plays an important role in keeping the vagina healthy. Not only does it act as a lubricant during sex, it also works as a protective shield to keep infections away. 

So what can we do about it? 

About the discharge itself, not much. And Dr Bateson says to be careful not to get into a cycle of over cleaning or using sanitary products such as panty liners every day – as they stop our lady parts from being able to breathe, often making the situation worse. 

The vagina is of course self-cleaning, so products such as douches and steaming aren’t recommended. 

But if you’re worried, a quick shower before sex with some warm water and soap — but only on the vulva — will do the trick. But you don’t need to be putting any soap inside your vagina, Dr Bateson says. 

The best course of action if you’re worried is to let your partner know, clean off any of the excess, and enjoy the extra lubricant your body has to offer. Oh, and throw your undies into the corner of the room.