vaginal wetness causes

Getting Wet: Let’s Talk About Vaginal Discharge and What It Is

fact checked

This article was scientifically reviewed by Human Sexuality expert Dr. Laurie Mintz. She is a professor, researcher, private practitioner and Fellow of the American Psychological Association.

Vaginal discharge, arousal fluid, squirting fluid, and cervical fluid. So many different vagina fluids that it can be hard to keep track of and understand the differences between each, right? 

But it doesn’t have to be — once you understand the purpose of vagina fluids and why our bodies produce them, the difference becomes clear as day. 

So, ready for a quick vagucation lesson on different vagina fluids? 

What Is a Vagina Fluid, aka Vaginal Discharge?

Most of the vagina fluids are produced by either the Bartholin glands or the cervix.

Let’s start off by establishing the differences and true meanings of each term we’re going to be discussing in today’s post. 

  • Vaginal discharge is the term that’s used to describe any non-period fluid that comes out of your vagina. 
  • Vaginal lubrication is the term used to describe the fluids that the vagina secretes when you’re aroused.

So, vagina fluid or vaginal discharge includes all the natural fluids that a vagina produces, which is a very healthy and normal part of any vagina owner’s body. 

There are different types of vaginal discharges, and they each indicate the health of a vagina and vary depending on the hormones and time of the menstrual cycle.

What Purpose Does Vaginal Discharge Have?

The main purpose of a vaginal discharge is to remove the old cells and debris from the vagina to keep the reproductive tract clean and healthy. 

There is a misconception many people have that vagina needs to be cleaned with soaps and other cleaners to keep it clean, but mother nature has already taken care of that — vagina is self-cleaning, and vaginal discharge is the way. 

Another purpose of a vaginal discharge is to indicate the health of a vagina. If the vagina fluid is looking or smelling weird or out of the ordinary (more on that later), it can indicate that there is an infection, and you should go see the OB-GYN. 

Vaginal lubrication fluid has a completely different purpose, though. 

That purpose is to lubricate the vagina to protect it from drying out and also to protect it during sexual intercourse or when you’re aroused, to make sex more comfortable and, most importantly, pleasurable.

Different Types of Vagina Fluids

There are two different vagina fluids under the vaginal discharge umbrella that both serve different purposes that we just discussed. 

So, let’s take a closer look at each and what they mean:

Vaginal Discharge

The cervix produces vaginal discharge during a person’s menstrual cycle. Depending on the time of the cycle, the color and thickness of the fluids vary as well as the amount discharged each day. 

Vagina owners tend to get alarmed at the amount of vaginal discharge they experience during the day as some believe that there must be something wrong if there is always liquid coming out of their vaginas. 

However, it’s completely normal for a healthy person to produce anywhere between 1 and 4 milliliters of vagina fluid per day. 

Dr. Jen Gunter writes, “from my experience and reading the literature. It seems that 1-3 ml is the average range, and it will vary day-to-day. The 3-4 ml range might be worth checking out if you are irritated, but sometimes there can just be a lot, especially around ovulation or if a woman is taking estrogen.”

Most doctors evaluate the health of a vagina by the color and odor of the vaginal discharge. Because of that, it’s important to familiarize yourself and get to know your own vagina fluids so that you can recognize when something is out of the ordinary. 


Clear vagina fluid is the most ordinary discharge women experience. Its consistency can vary, depending on the time of the menstrual cycle, and it can be anywhere from water-like consistency to stretchy, egg white-like consistency. 

Both are normal and healthy. 


White vagina fluids, ranging from cream to light yellow, is another common type of discharge that most likely indicates healthy lubrication. 

However, if white vaginal discharge is followed by other symptoms, like itching, strong odor, and has the consistency of cottage cheese, then there might be a yeast infection, and it’s better if you seek attention from your OB-GYN.

Pink, Reddish Brown

Pink of Reddish brown vaginal discharge containing blood is usually also normal. It can happen anytime before or after your menstruation, and it’s called spotting. 

However, in postmenopausal women, reddish or brown vagina fluid can be a sign of endometrial or cervical cancer. 

Regardless of age, however, it’s important to register for yearly checkups with your doctor, so they can ensure that your reproductive system is healthy and you don’t have to worry about your discharge.

Arousal Fluid 

Bartholin glands are responsible for lubricating the vagina to protect it from drying out on a regular basis. However, these pea-sized glands are also responsible for producing the arousal fluid whenever a woman is sexually aroused.

While vaginal discharge is regulated automatically by our bodies without us even thinking about it, when it comes to arousal fluid, our brain actually plays a huge part in it. 

Our brain is our biggest sexual organ, and that is where the sexual response cycle starts. Once it’s triggered in our brains, then the Bartholin glands produce the clear, slippery fluid we call arousal fluid. 

During this period, there is an increased blood flow to the genitals, which in turn can make your vagina feel swollen and wet, pulsating even. All those feelings and sensations, followed by clear and slippery vagina fluid, are very normal and natural. 

Ejaculation and Squirting Fluid

Two related types of vagina fluid we must talk about are ejaculation fluid and squirting fluid. Both are  expelled from the urethra, not the vagina. 

While there is some controversy, at this point most scientists will tell you that the about 2 teaspoons of white milky fluid that is expelled from the urethra (which women may or may not notice) comes from the Skenes glands and is female ejaculate. 

On the other hand, the squirting/gushing type is most likely female ejaculate mixed with fluid from the bladder – perhaps very diluted urine. Regardless of what this fluid consists of, squirting is a very normal and natural thing, and there is nothing to be ashamed of or worried about if you experience it during sex. There is also nothing to worry about if you don’t squirt. This is just a beautiful way bodies vary. 

Some people find squirting to be a sign vagina owners are enjoying the sexual encounter. However, it’s important to note that squirting doesn’t always equate to an orgasm. And, it’s really important to not pressure someone to squirt. Pressure and sex don’t mix well!

Signs of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

If you feel like your vaginal discharge is different from the usual and has changed for whatever reason, that is a sign that it’s time to see a doctor. 

It’s also important to note that if you experience discomforts like itching or pain and there is a foul odor to your vagina fluid, there is also an issue that needs attention. 

Likewise, if your discharge is gray, yellow, or green, this may indicate an issue that needs to be addressed so see your MD.

The take-home message is that it is important to familiarize yourself with the color and consistency and odor of your normal vaginal discharge so you can track and notice changes and see a doctor when this occurs.