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What Are the Common Causes of Thick Vaginal Discharge?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 23 March 2014
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It is normal for the consistency of vaginal discharge to fluctuate over the course of a woman’s menstrual cycle and also over the course of a day. Hormonal changes, such as those that occur along with sexual arousal or ovulation can cause thick vaginal discharge. A thickening of the discharge that occurs along with a change in the color or odor of the discharge can indicate the presence of infection. Thick, dark colored discharge is common at the end of menstruation and is considered normal.

Thick vaginal discharge that is clear and odorless can be a sign that a woman is ovulating. This type of discharge is usually stretchy and often occurs in greater quantity than the discharge that occurs at other points in the woman’s cycle. Sperm are able to survive for a long time, often up to three days, in this type of mucus which greatly increases a woman’s chances of conceiving a child. It is possible to determine the best time to attempt to conceive by examining the vaginal discharge and taking note when it is at its thickest.

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Though thick vaginal discharge can be a sign of ovulation, discharge can also thicken when a woman becomes sexually aroused. Again, this thicker matter helps sperm survive for longer periods once they are inside a woman, though if the woman is not close to ovulation, it may not increase the chance of conception. As long as the thickening of the discharge does not occur along with the presence of a strong odor or a change in color, it is considered normal.

At the end of a woman’s period, a thick vaginal discharge that is dark brown or rust colored may be present. This discharge is the last of the uterine lining that is shed as a part of the woman’s normal cycle. As long as the discharge clears up within a few days, it is not a cause for alarm. This same type of discharge can also occur during ovulation in some women.

Certain types of vaginitis may cause thick vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant or that is yellow or green in color. A yeast infection, for instance, causes abnormally thick discharge that has the appearance of cottage cheese. A bacterial vaginal infection can cause a number of different symptoms, depending on the type of bacteria involved, though it often causes the vaginal discharge to thicken and take on a green or yellow hue. Both of these relatively common vaginal infections are easily treated.

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Kat919
Post 2

@ElizaBennett - I tried that! Of course, I was trying so many other things (like an ovulation predictor kit) that I have no idea whether or not it was the Robitussin that did the trick.

I think that before I got educated, I probably treated myself for two or three "infections" that were really just my normal, healthy white, thick vaginal discharge during ovulation. I didn't keep track of my cycles particularly and didn't know that it was normal to have more discharge at some times of the month, so I would get alarmed. And maybe there was hot weather so I had some itching, and thought that the two together meant infection.

Some time after I got educated, I developed a *real* vaginal infection. There was no mistaking it; there was definitely an off-odor. But I went ahead and saw my doctor to make sure whether it was yeast or bacteria.

ElizaBennett
Post 1

Here's an interesting tip for women who don't get that nice, clear thick vaginal discharge that you are supposed to experience during ovulation: Robitussin.

At ovulation, a woman will ideally have cervical fluid that resembles raw egg white in color and texture. You need that to get pregnant because it nourishes sperm until it can meet up with the egg. (Doesn't necessarily mean that you can't get pregnant without it, but you will definitely have a smaller window of opportunity.)

If your cervical fluid is thick but too sticky, taking an expectorant can help thin out your cervical fluid to make it more hospitable. Just make sure that you take the plain Robitussin (or generic equivalent); you do *not* want it to contain a decongestant or antihistamine.

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