Everything you've ever wanted to know about vaginal discharge
Vaginal discharge. Sounds kinda gross, right? Definitely not the type of conversation topic you’d bring up at the dinner table. Possibly not even something you’d discuss freely with your girlfriends. In fact, most of you are probably only reading this article because it’s the only way you feel comfortable learning about the issue – anonymously, without having to ask anyone questions, and without having to admit that you’ve experienced it. But the fact is, despite the embarrassed silence that shrouds the topic, we’ve all experienced it – because vaginal discharge is normal and happens to most women. Yes, MOST women.
So here’s the part where we stop feeling uncomfortable about the issue and start answering the questions you may have felt too embarrassed to ask….
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What is vaginal discharge?
Vaginal discharge is a fluid secretion from the vagina. It’s a natural part of being a women and one of the ways in which your body works to keep your vagina clean and healthy. Discharge starts from puberty (10-17 years old) and continues in varying degrees throughout a woman’s life, even through menopause (50+ years old).
Is my vaginal discharge normal?
Normal vaginal discharge is white or transparent, and has little or no odour, and occurs normally in most women. The amount may vary from a small amount of staining on your underwear to a larger amount that requires the use of a panty liner or pad. Discharge also varies throughout your menstrual cycle. “Most women experience some discharge both before and just after a period. There is also an increase in vaginal secretions during sexual arousal,” says Dr Leo Leader, Senior Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Women's and Children's Health, University of New South Wales. “Normal vaginal discharge does not cause any symptoms or have a bad smell.”
My discharge is white – what does that mean?
As mentioned above, normal discharge can be white or transparent. If it’s white, has little or no odour and fairly fluid, it’s completely normal. If your discharge has a bad odour and you are experiencing pain or itching, it’s best to visit your doctor as you may have an infection.
My discharge is clear and sticky – what does that mean?
According to Dr Leader, at the time of ovulation, the discharge may increase and can become quite sticky and stretchy. This is normal. “Some women may also notice an increase in the discharge mid cycle; this is associated with ovulation (the release of an ovum) if the woman is not taking the oral contraceptive pill.”
My discharge is brown – what does that mean?
“A brown discharge may occur just before or after a period and can be normal,” advises Dr Leader. “A blood stained or brown discharge at any other time of month needs investigation.”
Discharge leaving you feeling icky down below?
No one likes feeling less-than-fresh down below, and vaginal discharge can definitely leave you with that wet, sticky and sweaty feeling in your underpants. If this is the case, try something like Lovekins Ultra Thin Daily Liners to keep you feeling dry, fresh and clean throughout the day. The design is extra slim for breathable comfort that feels no different to wearing bare underwear. Some women also prefer to use an intimate wash, specifically formulated to keep the vaginal area pH balanced (and for peace of mind). bh recommends: Summer's Eve Daily Freshness Intimate Wash and Vagisil Scentsitive Scents® White Jasmine Daily Intimate Wash.