A Guide to Vaginal Discharge
Most of the time, vaginal discharge is totally normal.
In fact, our regular cycles release physiologic discharge. The main purpose of this substance is to ovulate and conceive, and will happen even when you aren’t trying to make a baby. Basically, it’s science. So what’s good about the gunk in your undies? And when is there reason to worry?
Vaginal discharge should be white or pasty most of the time.
The next time you’re a week away from your period’s arrival, give an extra glance to your discharge. It should be white and pasty, and maybe even a little thick. When you’re mid-cycle (that’s when we ovulate), it’ll become clear and stretchy, which is meant to make it smoother for sperm to penetrate the egg.
Afterwards, the progesterone levels begin to rise and the discharge thickens up again to protect the possibly developing fetus. If pregnancy does not occur then the body turns off the hormone flow and sheds the lining of the uterus which is our menstrual flow.
Though the changes seem subtle, this is how your body is processing everything that’s happening under the hood. And all of it is driven by our hormones. As long as your cycle maintains white to clear texture, and is never chunky, there isn’t a reason to worry.
Vaginal discharge should smell like, well, a vagina.
Women are worried about their scent down there. How is it supposed to smell? Why doesn’t it smell like roses and rainbows? Should I be douching? Everyone’s delicate ecosystem is different, but more often than not, it’s not smart to disrupt the pH balance that keeps everything functioning. Instead of stressing over fragrance, a vagina should, well, smell like a vagina.
Less is more when it comes to the vagina. For the most part, she’s got you covered. She doesn’t need any of those overly marketed lotions, potions, or elixirs. Frankly, she doesn’t even need soap. For those of you that aren’t so keen on that, if you do go with soap, make sure it’s scent and perfume-free.
Vaginal discharge amount varies by woman—and age.
The vagina is a “self-cleaning” oven.The fluid from our glands carries away bad bacteria, allowing new cells to come to the surface, all in an effort to maintain health and elasticity. Even so, no two kitchen appliances are created the same way. And while your sister may experience heavy discharge, yours might be lighter. And your mom may not have much at all, since age causes many women to experience dryness downstairs.
Vaginal discharge should never look like cottage cheese.
When something is awry with your vagina, she’ll start showing she’s in trouble via discharge. Abnormal consistency is usually caused by a shift in the pH levels, leading to an environment that favors bacteria or yeast. When you see clumps that mimic cottage cheese and smell like the yeast you bake bread with, you likely have a yeast infection. This will be extremely itchy and uncomfortable, and will probably lead you to seek attention ASAP for relief.