Dr. Sylvester Ikhisemojie
The vagina ought to be wet naturally, especially in young girls who have reached puberty and also women of child-bearing age. Nearly half of all the mails and messages received on our various communication outlets on this page are centered on issues of vaginal discharge involving several different colours and wetness.
There are some extreme views about some of the questions asked with some even going as far as to suggest that what they feel could be sinful or shameful. Neither notion is correct and despite attempts over the years to correct that impression by responding directly to such messages and discussing various forms of vaginal discharge on this page in the healthy woman and the pregnant counterpart, the questions have not ceased to flow.
This essay was conceptualised to answer some of those questions and also to reassure women as a whole that it is actually healthy for the vagina to be wet. Such wetness supports fertility, makes sexual activity more comfortable, even pleasant, and helps to avoid pain. There are still too many women, though, who worry a lot about the fluids produced by their vaginas.
In the absence of any other symptoms such as itching, smell, and pain, wetness in the vagina can be taken as a normal event. Some women worry that they produce too much vaginal fluid and are always seeking reassurance. When you are in doubt, see a doctor who will offer to examine you properly and determine if there is an underlying condition that promotes what you think might be a problem.
Some of these symptoms that might cause you to pay a visit to your doctor or a hospital include smelly vaginal discharge, swelling around the vagina, itching within the vagina and the labia as well as a burning sensation in the vagina and pain. If there is a change in the colour of the discharge following sex, especially when that happens after sleeping with a new partner, it is important also to seek the opinion of your doctor.
In some people, the problem would be that the vagina suddenly becomes dry; if such dryness occurs suddenly and lasts for several days in a row, it is equally wise to visit a doctor. The same is true for those who are on birth control medications and they notice certain changes in the appearance of their vaginal fluids. Finally, if you experience vaginal pain for no obvious reason, you should complain.
The vagina is lined inside by a mucous membrane and this is responsible for the slight feeling of wetness that is always present. These fluids are essential for making the vagina healthy but it is clear that their presence makes a fair number of women quite uncomfortable.
Certain situations can make the vagina feel wet and these are such things as the normal menstrual cycle with its associated hormonal changes, fertility status and sexual arousal. These mood variations then inform two main parts of the vagina to produce the necessary fluids that ensure the vagina remains wet in response to the stimulation. As a result, the Bartholin glands and the cervix respond to such sensitisation to produce more fluids. The bartholin glands are small glands about the size of groundnut seed. They are found just inside of the vaginal opening, with one on either side and they produce fluids when a woman is aroused.
The cervix produces mucus all through the menstrual cycle but will produce even more fluid when ovulation approaches or during arousal. However, the amount of vaginal fluid will vary from one day to the next which explains why what you see in your pants will not always be the same in appearance or volume.
The wetness felt within the vagina aids sex. It will tend to stay for as long as two hours after intercourse even when there is no feeling of arousal any longer. This property diminishes with increasing age and such wetness is difficult to attain after menopause primarily because the aging woman is less able to produce oestrogen. The vagina is then described as dry. The walls become thinner and sex can, therefore, become painful. In practice, however, when the level of oestrogen is raised,
the wetness within the vagina improves. This is typically seen in the post-menopausal woman who is now on hormone replacement therapy. This fluid is known to be made up of a number of naturally occurring substances and they are described here as well. The vaginal fluid or secretion is made up mostly of water and that component alone is greater than 90 per cent.
The next component is made of various salts and these include sodium chloride, calcium and phosphate. The cells that line the walls of the vagina, cervix and even the uterus regularly undergo shedding and are discharged from the body in the vaginal fluid. These are broadly described as squames. Organic compounds such as lipids, glycogen and even amino acids also form a part of this fluid.
The colour of the vaginal secretion can vary widely, and this is a topic we have previously treated on this page. It can be like a cream, thin or thick and can be pinkish, gray, yellowish, or even greenish. As we discovered in that essay, these colour changes are more like a code and they mean different things. So when there is vaginal wetness that is not related to any other problem, it is not likely that a disease condition is developing.
However, when there is a sudden or gradual increase in the amount of secretions produced in any particular vagina, it is often due to an infection. These infections may be due to yeast or bacteria commonly. It may also be due to sexually transmitted infections or due to cancer.
A typical yeast infection would cause the vaginal fluid to become a thick white, paste that is sticky or may have the appearance of cheese. The vagina, in such a circumstance, will be uncomfortable and it will have severe itching and a burning sensation. Sex will become quite painful if it feels sore in addition. However, this kind of infection is easy to treat using a proper anti-fungal cream provided a proper diagnosis has been reached. There is little room for antibiotics here unless it is established as a mixed infection.
When there is a bacterial infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, some women will observe that they itch. The vagina will produce a fluid that smells like fish and will appear often as a yellowish discharge. Sometimes, it could be gray or white. Trichomoniasis, on the other hand, will produce intense vaginal itching, which is enjoyable when scratched, and a smelly greenish or yellowish discharge. Both of these infections are treatable with antibiotics.
Sadly, when the cause of the increase in a vaginal fluid is cancer of the cervix, the fluid is initially like any of the common situations above. It rapidly becomes more copious with a serious smell. Over time, it comes in torrents and it is then obvious even to the persons around the sufferer that something is seriously wrong.
Therefore, while it is true that a wet vagina is a sign of good health, the spectre of seeing one that makes too much fluid often says the opposite. Fortunately, many of the events that make such an increase possible are treatable. Some others, unfortunately, are not that easy to treat. It is our hope, in any case, that what has been said above will reassure many women in our community who worry so much about these issues.
Join the discussion
- Registering is free and very quick
- Consult paediatricians, Gynaecologists, Lactation experts etc for free
- Get discounts, win prizes and lots more.