Vaginal Discharge and Your Cycle

Vaginal Discharge and Menstrual Cycle

Most menstruators experience discharge, but have you ever noticed that your discharge changes throughout the month? Your discharge, and its appearance and texture, is intimately linked to your cycle and, thus, can look different on different days. Likewise, it is one key indicator of your fertility, or lack thereof, which may be useful in fertility management. Let’s discuss vaginal discharge and how it relates to your cycle.

What is discharge?

Though we commonly refer to vaginal substances as discharge, it is actually cervical fluids. Your cervix, which is the internal cavity opening to your uterus, produces a fluid, referred to as cervical mucus. There are several reasons our bodies create cervical mucus, including:

  1. to provide an alkaline medium to protect the sperm from the acidic pH of the vagina, which maintains the sperm and operates as a mechanism that filters it;
  2. to assist sperm motility through the cervix to optimize its chances of egg fertilization during ovulation; and
  3. to prevent sperm and other types of substances from entering the cervix.

Why does my discharge change?

The appearance and feel of your cervical mucus will depend on where you are at in your cycle. This is because your hormones change throughout your cycle, creating different types of cervical mucus. What type of discharge you can expect will be discussed later in this article.

However, you may experience some or all of the following types of discharge throughout the month:

  • a white or yellow sticky paste,
  • a smooth and white yogurt-type substance,
  • a stretchy and slippery raw-egg white paste,
  • a clear, watery, and wet fluid, and
  • dryness or no discharge at all.

How does your cervical mucus change throughout your cycle?

You may have noticed that your discharge looks different throughout the course of the month. This is because the texture and type are based on what part of your menstrual cycle you are in. The most common medical belief is that women and menstruators have around a 28-day cycle, with ovulation occurring around day 14. Based on this general pattern, you can expect the following discharge characteristics:

  • Days 1 through 6. As you begin your cycle and during days one through six, your discharge will usually be sticky and dry. You are likely not fertile during this time.
  • Days 7 through 9. As you enter days seven through nine, discharge tends to get creamier. However, you are likely still not fertile during this time either.
  • Days 10 through 12. As your body approaches ovulation, your cervical fluids will become slippery, wet, clear, and/or stretchy. Some say that the appearance is similar to raw egg whites. This texture can indicate you are in your most fertile window.
  • Days 13 and 14. After ovulation, discharge may begin appearing like egg whites.
  • Days 14 to 28. Usually, you will not present with much or any discharge as you approach your period.

How is cervical fluid linked to ovulation?

As you approach ovulation, your estrogen levels rise, causing an egg white-like appearance. The texture of this discharge, which is usually slippery and wet, promotes an environment in which sperm can more easily fertilize an egg. Thus, having unprotected sex during this time increases your chances of pregnancy. On the flip side, when your cervical mucus is not fertile, it makes it harder for the sperm to fertilize the egg.

Because of these different types of discharge, some people will use their cervical mucus as a tool for fertility tracking. Whether you are trying to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy, your discharge can be an indicator of where you are at during your cycle. Likewise, vaginal discharge tracking is a way of becoming more familiar with your body. This involves charting out your discharge, including its texture, color, and type. By doing so, you can get a picture of where you are at in your cycle and how fertile or infertile you are. However, tracking your fertility with discharge appearance alone is certainly not a foolproof method nor is it a form of birth control. For more information on contraceptive methods, visit Find My Method.

What happens to my discharge during pregnancy?

If you suspect you may be pregnant, your cervical mucus can be an indicator of pregnancy. Usually, your mucus will thicken and become dry after ovulation if you are not pregnant. If you are pregnant, though, you may still have cervical mucus present. Another possible outcome is having a light pink or brown discharge. This could be a sign of implantation bleeding, which can occur with implantation. This is not to be confused with your period.

I think I may be pregnant, what should I do?

Perhaps you suspect you are pregnant based on your cervical mucus, or maybe you have confirmed pregnancy via a test. If this is an unwanted pregnancy, know that you have options. In particular, you may want to access an abortion. You can have an abortion with pills, allowing you to successfully terminate a pregnancy without medical assistance and in a private setting. If you are interested in understanding your abortion options, reach out to our abortion counselors at

  1. “Cervical Mucus.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed January 2024.
  2. “Early Signs That You May Be Pregnant Based on Charting Alone.” Taking Charge of Your Fertility, Accessed January 2024.