Day after day, the scabbard is exposed to possible hostile attacks: after all, it is a constant connection to the outside world, in which also many potential pathogens lurk. In order to protect the vagina and the associated sexual organs, nature has devised a sophisticated defense system. An important part of the protective process is the constantly produced vaginal secretions, with which dead cells, blood, pathogens and sperm are transported to the outside.
In addition, it makes the mucous membranes less susceptible to minor injuries due to the constant moistening. A very important part of the vaginal protective function is the vaginal environment, ie the composition of the secretion and of what colonizes the mucous membrane.
The acid pH of the vaginal flora makes life difficult for many pathogens and is caused by lactate. This lactic acid is produced by the "good" lactobacilli normally found in the vagina in the breakdown of glycogen, a sugar that is incorporated into the mucosal cells under the influence of hormones. But the lactobacilli, often referred to as Döderlein chopsticks, produce even more:
- other toxic acids and hydrogen peroxide
- Metabolites (bacteriocins) that inhibit germ growth
- Biosurfactants that prevent other bacteria from clinging to the vaginal wall
- Coaggregating molecules that prevent pathogens from migrating.
A true poison cocktail, then, these all-rounder mix there for most potentially pathogenic germs, making it almost impossible for them to settle down in the vagina home. This sheds light on how important a healthy vaginal flora is. And that explains why taking antibiotics can lead to vaginal problems - after all, the lactobacilli (and other germs that are part of normal colonization) are also bacteria that can be sensitively affected by some medications.
Amount and smell of the outflow
The vaginal secretions, which are constantly produced in small quantities, consist of shed mucous membrane cells of the vagina, water, salts, urea, acids and proteins as well as bacteria and isolated blood cells. Normal discharge is glassy-whitish ("fluor alba"), fluid and of inconspicuous odor and it does not cause any discomfort, vaginal secretions that are produced during sexual arousal, incidentally, are created by squeezing fluid from the cells of the swollen mucosa and moisturizing (Lubrication), it mixes with a mucous secretion of the Bartholin glands at the entrance to the vagina.
The amount (as well as the composition, consistency and odor) of the discharge does not only change during the course of life, but also during the female cycle, controlled by the sex hormones, especially estrogen. So he is increasingly formed shortly before ovulation to create a particularly fertile environment, and then amplified again shortly before the menstrual period.