Ever wondered why your black knickers seem to get bleached in the crotch? Or if your vaginal discharge is normal? Well, we’re here to defend discharge and let you know that it’s your bodies’ way of helping you avoid nasty infections and ultimately keep you healthy. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about vaginal discharge.
Vaginal discharge is a fluid or mucus, made up of fluids from your uterus and cervix, that keeps the vagina clean and moist and protects it from infection. Discharge is a normal and often constant presence in women who menstruate.
It can begin as early as a few months before your period first starts in adolescence and generally tapers off after menopause. The amount, consistency and appearance can change depending on many factors including:
The discharge your body produces can shift during your menstrual cycle and during your lifetime, because of this, you may find it is heavier or lighter at different times. Typically though, healthy vaginal discharge:
Everyone’s vaginal discharge will be different and yours may even change throughout the month, what is important is that you know what is normal for you and if anything changes you can then get it checked out.
You may have found, following your period, discharge can turn a brown colour. In most cases this is simply blood that has taken a little longer to be expelled. If you're spotting between periods, blood may mix with your usual white vaginal discharge, resulting in a brown, thick, rubber-like consistency - which should always be checked out by a doctor as among other causes could be related to an infection.
Make sure to see a GP or go to a sexual health clinic if:
What is thick white discharge?
Thrush typically gives a thick, creamy or whitish discharge which may have the appearance of cottage cheese and also leads to itching or irritation due to a fungal infection. Other infections can change your discharge, for example Trichomoniasis can lead to a yellow/green coloured discharge which may be frothy and bacterial vaginosis classically leads to a greyish/white discharge with a strong offensive smell. If your discharge changes get it checked!
The scent of your vagina will vary based on things like hydration levels, recent food intake, medications, overall health status, and where you are in your menstrual cycle. It’s perfectly normal for your vagina to have a slight odour and you may notice changes throughout the month, but it is important to know what is normal for you and what isn’t. If you notice unusual changes to the smell, texture, the amount of discharge or its colour, you should speak to your doctor.
There are also some things you can do to promote vaginal health . Here are some of our top dos and don’ts:
As you age and experience menopause, your body may produce less or no vaginal discharge because the body is no longer ovulating and estrogen levels shift. As a result, women who are in perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause may experience vaginal dryness. You can read more about what causes vaginal dryness in our dedicated guide.
Overall, discharge is completely normal and generally nothing to worry about. Talking about discharge shouldn't be embarrassing or taboo when it’s your bodies’ natural way of protecting you. If you do notice abnormal changes to your discharge, make sure to speak to your GP or visit a sexual health clinic.
What is the menopause? When does menopause start? We answer all in our overview of menopause. Read more now.
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