Wetness, mucus, cyprine, lubrication, female ejaculation: the fluids produced by female genitalia have been labelled many things, and rarely are they self-explanatory. Here is a comprehensive overview of a woman’s vaginal secretions and their purpose.
1- Cervical mucus
Cervical mucus refers to the fluid produced by the endocervical glands found in the cervix, which connects the uterus to the vagina. These glands continuously produce a small amount of a liquid-like substance that flows down the vaginal wall. Slightly viscous, the cervical mucus stretches between the fingers and resembles raw egg whites. Its role is twofold, and depends on the phases of the ovulatory cycle:
- As part of the vagina’s self-cleaning process, the cervical mucus helps flush out any bacteria, germs, and dead cells that arise from the shedding of the vagina’s inner lining. This vaginal discharge, or leukorrhea, is normal and will often take on a thin, milky white appearance. But if the discharge’s quantity, color or smell differs from what you usually experience, it is advisable to consult a gynecologist. The cervical mucus also helps menstrual blood flow more easily out of the body. The fluid’s tight, mesh-like molecular structure gives it a thick consistency, which helps prevent sperm from passing through the cervix outside of the ovulation phase.
- During ovulation, when estrogen levels increase, the composition of the cervical mucus changes, becoming runnier and more abundant. Its pH levels also become more alkaline, thus neutralizing the vagina’s acidity, which is unhospitable to sperm. All these changes help facilitate the sperm’s passage to the egg. The fluid’s structure will also stretch to clear the way for select sperm, but those with significant abnormalities will be caught in its web.
When sexually aroused, the Bartholin’s glands, which are located near the vaginal opening near the vaginal lips, will produce fluids to lubricate the vagina. This lubrication is meant to facilitate penetration and thrusting during sex. Hormonal changes, such as a decline in estrogen after childbirth or increase in prolactin levels when breastfeeding, can lead to insufficient vaginal lubrication. To alleviate any pain or dryness following such changes, it is advisable to use a personal lubricant during penetrative sex.
Although the vagina’s mucus membrane does not contain any secretory glands, it still reacts to sexual arousal. Upon arousal, the blood vessels swell, kicking off a process called vaginal transudation. In this process, fluids called the transudate are released through the membrane’s walls and combine with other vaginal secretions. This mixture of fluids also serves as a lubricant for vaginal penetration. This liquid has also been referred to as “cyprine”, but scientists aren’t in agreement on what is classified as cyprine: it is either the secretions of Bartholin’s glands or vaginal transudate, or a mixture of both. In any case, the term cyprine is almost always associated with female excitement and lubrication.
4- Female ejaculation
Last but not least, female ejaculation yields fascination for many, and its mysteries are only now beginning to unfold. Researchers have discovered that, upon orgasm, some women emit a fluid composed of vaginal secretions and urine, plus one other substance in some cases. This substance is a fluid produced by the paraurethral glands. For most women, these glands – also known as the “female prostate” or “Skene’s glands” – will release a discharge during climax, though it often goes unnoticed. In rare, yet normal, instances, this fluid will be expelled with urine in the form of abrupt and uncontrollable jets. To date, no direct correlation has been established between female ejaculation and the intensity of pleasure experienced.
Written by Charlotte Creplet, sexologist at Sexocorner
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