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Do you know the difference between vaginal flow and lubrication?
The female reproductive system has its own mechanism for cleaning and inhibiting pathogenic microorganisms. As well as the means to facilitate a possible pregnancy.
Functions of cervical mucus
This aqueous secretion, produced by the glands of the cervix, is mainly composed of:
- acetic acid
- lactic acid.
Vaginal discharge consists of a bacteria flora (mainly lactobacilli) with acidic pH (3.8-4.5), which regulates the expulsion of dead cells or foreign bodies and acts as a protective barrier against possible diseases.
What kind of diseases?
Diseases such as diabetes, as well as the administration of antihistamines or drugs for allergies, depression and cardiovascular diseases alter this pH. Favouring the proliferation of vaginal dryness and infections such as bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis or trichomomas.
The characteristics of colour, odour and consistency will alert us to the phase of the menstrual cycle, special vital circumstances such as pregnancy, lactation or menopause or possible pathological symptoms to pay attention to.
A diet rich in acidic and salty foods affects the smell. So it is advisable to consume probiotics to care for the health of our vaginal flora.
The production of oestrogen and progesterone is directly related to variations in the amount of cervical mucus, and although each woman should know her secretions, as a general rule we can point out that:
- Antibiotics, contraceptives and corticosteroids tend to thicken the flow.
- After physical exercise, more mucus discharge is common, as a result of activating the circulation.
- Before and after sex, the increase in blood supply to the vagina results in an increase in lubrication.
- With ovulation the cervical mucus tends to be more abundant, whilst just before menstruation it becomes thicker and darker. The brown colour, after bleeding, is proof of this vaginal self-cleaning.
- Periods of life of less sexual activity, such as childhood or menopause, generate less flow production.
Lubrication and sex
The vaginal walls are also responsible for female lubrication with a dual purpose:
- To facilitate penetration and make the sexual act more pleasant.
- To house and extend the life of sperm to contribute to a possible conception.
Squalane, present in vaginal discharge, is the natural lubricant par excellence. It has been discovered that, in addition to its anti-cancer properties, shark liver has high doses of this substance, used to manufacture lubricants. If vaginal dryness exists, sexual intercourse can become painful, leading couples to stop practising it.
The following can negatively affect the volume of the flow and compromise vaginal well-being:
- periods of stress
- poor diet and hydration
- the habit of wearing thongs and tight clothing
- synthetic fabrics
- overuse of scented intimate hygiene products
- vaginal showers causing an imbalance in vaginal pH.
In this sense, lubricants make sexual intercourse more pleasant and enjoyable, since in addition to facilitating penetration, they enrich and stimulate eroticism by collaborating with natural lubrication. Water-based lubricants are safer and healthier than oil-based ones, because they are hypoallergenic and do not compromise the protective function of the condom.
In addition, oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly alter vaginal pH and allow germs to stick to mucous membranes for longer. They are facilitators of possible infections.
Looking after your diet and daily intimate hygiene, especially after sexual intercourse and menstruation, not overusing tight clothing and going to the gynaecologist for any discomfort such as itching, bad smell or unusual flow will help us prevent future complications.