Lets face it, there is a lot of confusion about vaginal fluids (where they come from, if they are indicators of sexual arousal, and what is normal). These are all good questions that deserve clear and correct answers. After all, it’s your body.
This post is to clear up some of the confusion. First, let me say that the glands on the vulva, the exterior of the female sexual anatomy containing the labia and clitoris, are not the large produces of lubrication that occurs with sexual arousal. These are sweat and oil glands that do provide some lubrication but not the kind that we all think of with female sexual arousal. These glands are mostly helpful in lubricating the vaginal opening, but are not typically all that’s needed in this endeavor.
Discharge is not the same as lubrication. It’s true that some discharge may have lubrication accompanying it. For example, if the woman had sexual arousal that brought on increased blood flow to the vulva and vagina there could be some lubrication along with the discharge.
The normal discharge will either be white, clear watery, clear stretchy, or brown & bloody (Ellis, 2015). Anything outside of this could be something to check with your medical doctor about. White discourage is normal and is often at the beginning or end of the menstrual cycle. Clear and watery can occur anytime, but Ellis says it is especially likely after exercise. Clear and stretchy is an indicator of ovulation. Brown or bloody discharge can occur anytime, but more likely during or after menstruation.
So where does lubrication come from if not mainly the glands and if it’s different from discharge? It’s actually a really fascinating process and the resulting lubrication is called vaginal transudate. It all starts with sexual arousal. When this occurs a large amount of blood is sent to the vagina and surrounding area. This is called vasocongestion. The pressure from the increased blood flow to these blood vessels causes liquid to seep through the vaginal wall (Nilsen, 2016). This liquid is largely responsible for the lubrication of the vagina during sexual arousal and is called vaginal transudate or lubrication as most people call it.
Ellis, Mary (2015). What causes vaginal discharge? 20 possible conditions. http://www.healthline.com/symptom/vaginal-discharge. September 2nd.
Nilsen, Richard (2016). Where Does Natural Vaginal Lubrication Come From? http://www.livestrong.com/article/15810-does-natural-vaginal-lubrication-come/. December 8th.