Vaginal Discharge: What is it? Is it Normal?

If you’ve recently found a sticky substance in your underwear that resembles alien goo, read on.

When you start 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 you’ve ever looked down at your underwear and thought… what is this?, we’re here to help you out.

What is vaginal discharge?

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

vaginal discharge colour guide

Is my 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 your 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 your discharge too. Once you start figuring out and noticing what’s normal for you, it’ll be easier to tell if something is wrong. 

Do I need to talk to a doctor about my discharge? 

If your vagina is burning or itching and your 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 you out for bacterial infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast infections, or STIs and get you the right treatment. 

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

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