Vaginal Discharge in Teens: What is it? Is it Normal?

If your teen has recently found a sticky substance in their underwear that resembles alien goo, read on to find out what's normal and when to talk to a doctor. 

When your teen starts to go through puberty, the changes can seem never-ending. The boobs, the hair growth, the periods, the vaginal discharge…wait, vaginal discharge? 

You read that correctly. If your teen has ever looked down at their underwear and thought "what is this?," we’re here to help you out.

What is vaginal discharge?

It can be a bit confusing when your teen begins to notice a substance that resembles alien goo start appearing in their underwear. They can breathe easy. The reason for this discharge is quite simple— their vagina is cleaning itself. (Like a cat, or a self-cleaning oven.) The sticky stuff they notice is a combination of cells, fluid and other bacteria flushing itself out of the body. All these things are part of a healthy vaginal ecosystem. The fluid keeps them clean, while helping to fight off infection at the same time.

vaginal discharge colour guide

Is their discharge normal?

“Normal” discharge can be white, clear, off-white, sticky, wet, or any combination of the above. Some people might have enough to warrant using a panty liner (or leakproof underwear!) while others might not have much at all. It’s also normal for it to have a slight odor too.

The best way to figure out if their discharge is normal is to keep track of how the color, texture, and quantity changes depending on your menstrual cycle. Different soaps or body wash, sexual activity, sugar or antibiotics can also affect discharge too. Once they start figuring out and noticing what’s normal for them, it’ll be easier to tell if something is wrong. 

Do I need to talk to a doctor about my teen's discharge? 

If their vagina is burning or itching and their discharge turns greyish or greenish and starts to smell really bad, don’t freak out! It may just be time to check in with a medical professional. The doctor can check them out for bacterial infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast infections, or STIs and get them the right treatment. 

Just remember that at the end of the day, vaginal discharge is typically a sign that their vagina is safe, healthy and clean.

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