Why Do I Have More Discharge When Sexually Active?

Vaginal discharge is a normal part of being healthy. It’s there to protect, clean, and lubricate. It can fluctuate naturally with hormone fluctuations during a woman’s menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and sexual arousal.

Penile discharge is also normal, called precum. It’s typically clear, doesn’t smell bad, and shouldn’t cause pain or discomfort.

1. You’re ovulating

Most vaginal discharge is healthy, and it helps keep the vagina clean and lubricated. But some can indicate an infection, a pregnancy, or even fluctuation in hormone levels. If you notice more than usual, pay attention to the type, color and odor of the discharge.

A clear, milky-looking or white discharge is typically healthy and probably means that you’re ovulating. As you get closer to ovulation, cervical mucus thickens and becomes slippery (think egg whites), which is helpful for sperm to swim through.

Around the time of ovulation, many women also experience breast tenderness and have increased libido, which is why this is such a fertile window. Some women use a basal thermometer or ovulation chart to track these changes, while others simply rely on their libido as an indication of when they’re ovulating.

Brown discharge is also a normal ovulation symptom and usually occurs as the follicle that contains the developing oocyte ruptures, releasing the bloody fluid. This is a healthy symptom, but it’s important to be very careful when having sex during this time and to use condoms or some form of birth control. It’s also not uncommon for a woman to ejaculate brown discharge, which is actually semen that carries the sperm that can fertilize an egg. Spotting also happens when the oocyte matures, and it can range in color from red to dark brown.

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2. You’re pregnant

Women’s bodies produce different amounts of discharge depending on hormone fluctuations throughout the month, including pregnancy, ovulation and sexual arousal. While the amount of discharge varies for each person, an increase in the amount can be a sign that you’re having more than normal symptoms and may need to see a doctor or nurse practitioner for treatment. Changes in the color, texture or smell of discharge could also be a red flag.

The white, milky-looking discharge that most people associate with sexual arousal is actually healthy vaginal secretion that helps with lubrication during intercourse. But it’s important to note that this type of discharge may also contain semen and sperm, which could indicate unprotected sex or an STD like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Similarly, the creamy-white discharge that you might experience after sex is called pre-ejaculate, and it can be a mixture of cervical mucus and penile fluid that contains sperm.

If your discharge is yellow or green and has a musky odor, it may be a sign of bacterial vaginosis (BV), a common infection that occurs when the balance of bacteria in the vagina is off and harmful bacteria take over. BV is usually treated with antibiotics. See your gynecologist if you have this type of discharge and other symptoms, such as pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis, painful urination or anal sores.

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3. You’re on birth control

If you’re taking birth control pills, you may have a little more discharge than normal around the time of ovulation. This is due to the hormones in your body that affect how much cervical mucus you have. If you notice that the thickness or odor of your vaginal discharge changes, you should talk to your doctor.

A sudden onset of thick, gray or green discharge could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis (BV). This condition can cause an overgrowth of bacteria in the vulva. The BV can produce a fishy smell and cause pain during urination, so it’s important to see your doctor if you notice any changes in your discharge.

Thick white vaginal discharge can also be a sign of sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia or trichomoniasis. These conditions can be spread by unprotected sex, oral sex or from contact with infected genital fluids. If you suspect you have an infection, you should visit your local GUM or sexual health clinic for a free screening and treatment. They can perform a pelvic exam and use a speculum to remove a sample of your discharge to send off for tests. They can also prescribe antibiotics to treat your infection.

4. You’re having sex with a new partner

It’s normal to have a little extra discharge during sexual arousal, but if you notice white, off-white, or grayish liquid with a fishy smell, it could be an indication of bacterial vaginosis. This infection disrupts the healthy balance of bacteria in your vagina, causing harmful bacteria to overtake the good ones. It’s more common in women who have multiple sexual partners, use birth control pills, and regularly douch, but it can happen to anyone. It’s also important to avoid scented soaps and sprays, wear clean underwear with a cotton crotch, and wash your vaginal area with unscented soap or water.

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Another possible sign of BV is pain, itching or burning during sexual activity. If this is happening, talk to your doctor about getting antibiotics or using a topical antibacterial agent.

If you have a new partner, it’s a good idea to discuss sexual and relationship boundaries before you get too involved. That way, both parties are on the same page about what they want from sex and know what turns them on, what turns them off, and where their limits are in the bedroom.

It’s also a great time to discuss your sexual history, and to schedule regular tests for STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. These STIs can be spread through oral, anal, and vaginal sex or contact with contaminated genital fluids and are often treated with antibiotics at your local GUM or sexual health clinic.

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