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Getting Wet: The Difference Between Cervical Fluid, Arousal Fluid & Discharge

Getting Wet: The Difference Between Cervical Fluid, Arousal Fluid & Discharge

Written by Yoppie

30 Aug 2021

What is discharge? 

What is arousal fluid? 

What is cervical fluid? 

How do I know the difference? 

What if my ‘fluids’ differ from normal? 

Ever wondered what that moistness is inside your pants? Actually, getting wet could be several different things depending on where you are in your cycle. If you’re confused about the difference between cervical fluid, discharge, and the stuff that comes out when you’re ‘in the mood’, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s play… name that wetness! 

What is discharge? 

Discharge is a word that covers all manner of wetness, but if we’re getting specific about what vaginal discharge actually is, it’s a fluid that keeps the vagina clean, moist and protected from infection. Vaginal discharge tends to start appearing before a person gets their first period, sometimes up to 6 months before, and like most menstrual cycle functions, it’s all to do with hormones so it may change in colour and consistency throughout your life. 

In general, healthy discharge is clear or white-ish in colour (often likened to egg whites), may have a slight odour but nothing too overpowering, and sometimes leaves a yellow stain on your underwear. It varies in colour, and if it’s a little pink this can mean there is some blood mixed in from your period or spotting around certain times in your cycle. 

If you’re pregnant, you may find your body producing more vaginal discharge than usual, but that’s normal. Those going through menopause may find that hormones cause their body to produce little to no discharge. Also normal. 

What is arousal fluid? 

Ah yes, the sexy kind of fluid! Arousal fluid comes from the Bartholin’s gland in and around the vagina, and arrives when you feel sexually aroused, such as during foreplay or when you see someone who tickles your fancy. Its purpose is to lubricate the vagina to make it easier for things to slide on in there, like a penis, for example. This decreases the risk of friction or any skin tears. After sex is over, it tends to disappear within about an hour. Convenient stuff. 

Those taking hormone replacement therapy may find they have an increase in vaginal wetness, and this is due to higher estrogen levels that cause the Bartholin’s gland to produce more fluid. 

What is cervical fluid? 

Cervical fluid is a type of discharge that’s made up of carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids, and changes in colour, texture and consistency throughout your cycle due to hormone fluctuations. It comes from the cervix (hence the name), and we say cervical fluid, but it’s more like mucus and can feel sticky to the touch. 

During the ovulation part of your cycle, you may notice it becomes thicker in consistency, sometimes indicating peak fertility. Your cervical fluid shows up during this time to help you get pregnant, as the texture and pH of the mucus is designed to protect sperm, making these your most fertile days. 

When your estrogen levels are highest, this is when cervical fluid becomes more watery in its consistency, so you may find your underwear feels wetter when this happens. Also, if you take birth control pills, these can thicken your cervical fluid so sperm are unable to reach the egg, and you may find it has a different consistency when you’re on the pill. 

How do I know the difference? 

It’s not always clear what the wetness is, but let’s summarise some of the characteristics:

  • Discharge is clear or white-ish in colour, and has a slight odour but nothing nasty. It can appear throughout your cycle. 
  • Arousal fluid has more of a slippery texture and is present only when you’re sexually aroused or having sex. 
  • Cervical fluid is more like mucus, feels sticky to the touch, and appears most often during ovulation to assist sperm in successfully reaching the egg.

What if my ‘fluids’ differ from normal? 

Mostly, any kind of vaginal discharge is pretty standard and consistent. The only thing that may change is the amount coming out of the vagina (for example, when you’re ovulating, breastfeeding, sexually aroused, etc.) and the colour, depending on what stage of your menstrual cycle you’re in. This is normal. You may notice changes in the smell too, but it shouldn’t be too drastic. 

You never need to panic if anything does change with your vaginal discharge, as most things can be cleared up with a visit to the doctor, but don’t put this off. If you notice anything abnormal or feel any pain, itching or burning, you might have an infection or another condition that needs to be checked over by your GP. 

Watch out for discharge that’s grey in colour, as this could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis (BV), or cervical fluid that is green in colour, or has a sort of cottage cheese look about it. Any changes like this could be a sign of an STI (sexually transmitted infection), as well as things like bleeding between periods or after sex, pain when going to the bathroom, or pain in your abdomen or pelvis area. If in doubt, get it checked out. 

Do you have questions about any of the above types of wetness? Slip and slide into our DMs! We’re always up for answering your questions on our private Facebook group or on Instagram at @itsyoppie, so let us know what’s on your mind.  Don't forget that our personalised period box can get organic tampons, PMS supplements and more delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox, so that's one load off your mind about everything that might be going on down there.

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