Vaginal discharge (or secretion) is a general term for the fluids that your reproductive system produces. Discharge serves many purposes, and it’s very common for its amount, consistency, odor, or color to change slightly. This is true for sticky vaginal discharge as well.
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Why do women have sticky vaginal discharge?
Just like other parts of your body, the vagina has built-in mechanisms to protect itself, producing lubrication, carrying away dead tissue, and removing unwanted bacteria. Vaginal fluids are secreted by the vaginal walls and the glands located in the vaginal opening (the Bartholin’s glands). The Bartholin’s glands are normally about the size of a small pea and send fluid to the vagina through small tubes. This fluid lubricates the vulva and the vagina.
The cervix also produces fluid (cervical mucus) that changes in consistency throughout your menstrual cycle. These changes help prevent or promote pregnancy.
Types of sticky vaginal discharge
– Clear sticky vaginal discharge
Thin, clear, and slightly sticky discharge occurs during the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle. Typically, cervical fluid first becomes noticeable around the middle of the follicular phase (around day 7 in a 28-day cycle).
As long as it doesn’t have a bad smell, discharge like this is completely normal.
– White sticky vaginal discharge
After ovulation, cervical fluid that is discharged through the vagina begins to change in color and consistency. It changes from a clear, sticky discharge to one that is creamy and white (milky) or slightly yellow.
Normal discharge at this phase of your cycle shouldn’t have an unpleasant odor, and you shouldn’t be experiencing any other symptoms such as itching or burning.
– Brown sticky vaginal discharge
Women often experience this kind of discharge after their period. Brown sticky discharge is also common just before your period — a sign that regular bleeding is about to start — or early in pregnancy when the embryo implants.
Spotting and brown discharge can also occur after sex, as a result of hormonal changes during ovulation or before menopause, from vaginal dryness that causes mild tissue trauma. If you have a friable cervix, brown discharge can be caused by contact of the penis or instrument with the cervix.
If you experience brown sticky discharge, it’s a good idea to make a note of when and how long it occurred. If it continues for more than a few days or accompanies any other symptoms, contact your doctor or OB/GYN for further advice.
– Yellowish sticky vaginal discharge
A pale yellow sticky discharge is very common and quite normal, especially just before or immediately following your period. However, if this discharge gets darker, thicker/chunkier, or starts to smell, this can be a sign of infection.
Sticky vaginal discharge before your period
In the days following ovulation, your vaginal discharge will change from a thin, clear, and slippery consistency (like an egg white) to a thicker, sticky discharge. There might be less of it, too. This is due to additional hormonal changes that alter the consistency of the cervical mucus and eventually cause your period to start.