It might be alarming to find that you don’t have vaginal discharge right before your period, but this is normal.
Vaginal discharge, also known as cervical mucus, looks different from person to person. It also varies throughout the menstrual cycle, from dry and largely absent to clear and stretchy.
The consistency and quantity of vaginal discharge changes according to ovulation:
- In the days before your period, your vaginal discharge may have a glue-like look and feel.
- Then, on the day immediately before your period, you may notice no discharge at all.
- During your period, it’s likely that your menstrual blood will cover the mucus.
In the days following your period, you’ll probably notice no discharge. This happens when your body creates more mucus before another egg is ripened in anticipation of ovulation.
Following these “dry days,” your discharge will go through days when it appears sticky, cloudy, wet, and slippery.
These are the days leading up to and following the most fertile period, when the egg is ready to be fertilized.
Although cervical mucus can signal fertility, it isn’t a fail-safe indication. In some cases, a person may have high levels of estrogen without ovulating.
Not necessarily. There are various reasons why your discharge changes consistency or appears absent.
Pregnancy isn’t the only thing that can impact your vaginal discharge. Other influences include:
- vaginal infection
- vaginal douching
- the morning after pill
- cervical surgery
- sexually transmitted infections (STI)
If there’s a dramatic change in the consistency, color, or smell of the mucus, this can be cause for concern.
If you’ve had vaginal intercourse recently and think you could be pregnant, it might be a good idea to take a pregnancy test.
If the test is positive, or you think that there’s a larger issue at hand such as an infection, set up an appointment to see a doctor or other healthcare provider.
Your provider will be able to fully assess what’s going on with your body and let you know if treatments is necessary.
If your period doesn’t arrive as expected, there might be something else going on.
Your menstrual cycle can be impacted by things like:
- increased exercise
- sudden weight fluctuation
- changes in birth control usage
- thyroid issues
- eating disorders (such as anorexia or bulimia)
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- drug use
For those who are between 45 to 55 years old, this could also be a sign of perimenopause or menopause.
Periods leading up to menopause can be lighter or irregular. Menopause happens when it’s been 12 months since your last period.
Additionally, menstruation might be irregular the first few months or years after it begins as the body balances out hormone levels.
Keep in mind that while your period might not arrive as expected, it’s still possible to get pregnant. You should still use birth control and barrier methods to prevent unintentional pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
If your period does arrive, this means that your body was likely preparing for your period when there wasn’t any discharge.
Should you notice any differences in your period, such as irregularities in flow or discomfort, this could signal something else, such as a possible infection.
To better understand your menstrual cycle and your personal pattern of discharge, Planned Parenthood advises tracking your mucus levels starting the day after your period stops.
To check your mucus, you can use a piece of toilet paper to wipe your vulva before peeing. Then you can check the color, smell, and consistency.
You can also do this with clean fingers, or you can observe the discharge on your underwear.
It’s important to keep in mind that vaginal sexual intercourse can impact discharge.
In some cases, your body will produce more or different consistencies of mucus, which can impact your results if you’re tracking your mucus levels.
It’s normal to notice changes in your discharge leading up to, during, and after your period. Your body’s hormone levels change throughout the course of your menstrual cycle.
If your period is late, your mucus changes drastically, or you’re experiencing any type of pain, discomfort, or itching, it’s a good idea to check in with a doctor or gynecologist. They’ll be able to perform a physical exam and run tests to evaluate what’s going on.
Should your first round of tests not help with your symptoms, ask for another round.
Jen is a wellness contributor at Healthline. She writes and edits for various lifestyle and beauty publications, with bylines at Refinery29, Byrdie, MyDomaine, and bareMinerals. When not typing away, you can find Jen practicing yoga, diffusing essential oils, watching Food Network, or guzzling a cup of coffee. You can follow her NYC adventures on Twitter and Instagram.