Dear MKE SEX,
I have a question about excessive vaginal discharge. I know vaginal dryness is an issue that many people struggle with, but what do you do when you have the opposite of that? I’m in my early 30s and I swear it’s like a slip-n-slide between my legs! It’s like this all the time, and it’s even worse when I’m aroused. What can be done? Something can be done, right?
Thanks in advance,
You’re right! We do tend to talk about vaginal dryness with some regularity, especially as it relates to pregnancy, breastfeeding/chestfeeding, and menopause. We don’t really talk about copious vaginal lubrication, even though lots of folks experience it.
It’s pretty typical to associate a heavy dose of lubrication with being really turned on. And yes, for most folks with vaginas, before and during sex is when we get extra slippery. But it’s really important to point out that a vagina can get wet (and stay wet) without you having any interest in sex or masturbation at all. “WAP = horny” is a false equivalency. (Folks with penises can get hard-ons without being turned on, too. But that’s a column for another day.)
There are a lot of other things that can cause an abundance of discharge, most of them benign—and we’ll talk about several in just a minute. But sometimes that extra dampness indicates a problem that your healthcare provider can help you with. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections are two of the most common causes of excess discharge. BV typically also causes a change in the way your vagina smells or tastes. You may notice that it smells sweeter, or more tangy, or even a little fishy. The tissues inside the vagina can also get pretty sore, become swollen, and in more advanced cases, they can bleed a little. Sometimes the discharge has a little yellowish or greenish tinge to it. Yeast infections can also cause your vagina to smell sweeter, like fresh bread, or even like beer. Most people with yeast infections experience pretty intense burning or itching inside the vagina and in the tissues of the vulva. You may notice that some or all of your discharge looks like curdled milk or cheese crumbles. Like BV, yeast can also cause some vaginal swelling and bleeding. If you have any of the symptoms for BV or yeast, you should consult your healthcare provider for appropriate treatment.
It’s less common for STIs like chlamydia, gonnorhea, syphilis, and others to cause an excess of vaginal lubrication, but many STIs do change the color and consistency of the discharge. If you’re very concerned about your vaginal fluid, a quick round of STI testing at your doctor’s office, local Planned Parenthood clinic, or public health department can give you the answers you’re looking for.
Some prescription medications can cause an increase in your vaginal fluids as well. These are usually medications with estrogen in them like hormonal birth control or treatments for menopause. If you’re on any medications, it’s a good idea to review the side effect list to see if there’s a connection there. Check with your healthcare provider if you have questions about your medications.
Because estrogen is often implicated in large quantities of vaginal lubrication, we often see an increase in folks who are right around your age. Starting around 32 or 33 years old and continuing for a few years, folks often have increased signs of fertility. In addition to being sort of wet all the time, you might find that you’re slip-slip-slippery in the middle of your cycle, when you’re the most fertile! And some people experience more than just increased signs of fertility. It’s not uncommon to have increased ovulation at this stage of your life (either releasing two ova at once or ovulating twice during your cycle). If this normal increase in fertility is the the cause of your extra wetness, you may just be in for a few years of EWAP before things dry up a little.
The vagina and vulva can both sweat, too, which can contribute to the situation. Allowing yourself time to cool off is important. Using a fan or cold pack, and giving yourself time to sit with your legs apart can all be very helpful.
There is not a lot that can be done to “fix” this, even though it can be a real inconvenience. Some folks get some relief with a daily over-the-counter antihistamine, which can sort of dry up everything to some degree. Other people swear that acupuncture turned things around for them, not drying them out but establishing a more practical balance. And sometimes people find that they just need to wear a panty liner during the day and keep a soft handkerchief nearby to mop up the excess during sex and masturbation.
Regardless of the cause of your EWAP, if you’re really bothered by it, reach out to your healthcare provider. They can run a few tests and rule out any problems. They might not have solutions for you, but the peace of mind could help you feel better about the situation.
Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at [email protected] and she’ll get back to you with an answer.