Everything You Need to Know About Vaginal Discharge
24 August 2023
There are so many changes when we transition from child to adult and our bodies can surprise us. Most women can remember when they first started to find discharge in their underwear, sometimes years before their periods started and for some it was a shock.
Nowadays we are better at informing the younger generation of what to expect but it can still be disconcerting. It's important that we reassure tweens and teens that vaginal discharge is normal, everyone has it and it is nothing to be embarrassed or worried about.
What Is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is the fluid that your vagina produces to help keep your vagina and vulva moisturised and maintain a balanced environment. It helps keep a healthy vagina which is clean and lubricated.
Is Vaginal Discharge Normal?
Vaginal discharge is normal. It's a sign that your body is doing its job – keeping your vulva in perfect shape. The amount of discharge, colour and consistency might vary depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, but there's usually no cause for concern.
Clear or milky white discharge is normal for most people. It is generally quite fluid, but this can change depending on whether you use hormonal birth control for example, which can thicken your discharge.
When Should I Be Concerned About Discharge?
You should seek medical advice about your vaginal discharge if:
- If your discharge has a fishy odor, persistent or offensive smell
- If you have persistent bloodstained discharge. Spotting around your period is ok but any other time of the month is worth getting checked out
- If you have irritation
- If you have burning
- If the texture or colour changes or is unusual - green, like cottage cheese, or frothy – all deserve some professional attention as they may be signs of an infection.
A change to your normal healthy discharge isn't always a sign of a sexually transmitted infection, even if you are sexually active.
The delicate balance of your vagina can be upset by even shower gel causing yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Both require different treatment and a quick trip to the Drs.
Can Discharge Bleach Your Underwear? Can Discharge Make Holes in Your Underwear?
Yes, vaginal discharge can bleach your underwear as it is naturally acidic. It might also make holes in your underwear over time. Your Ph may change during your period and cause rusty bleached patches or stains in your underwear. This is normal, nothing to worry about and is not a stain or a sign that your pants aren't clean.
"Excellent period pants. Actually used this in the very late stage of pregnancy as fluid discharge increased and very comfortable to wear. Hoping to use it for first bleed after birth too!" Via Trustpilot
How to Stop Discharge Bleaching Underwear
There’s nothing you can do to prevent vaginal discharge - and you shouldn’t. Your vaginal discharge is naturally acidic, the creamy or cloudy white colour may leave white or yellow stains on your paler underwear. It can also take the colour out of darker underwear leading to red or rusty brown marks, but this is normal.
If you want to stop discharge bleaching your underwear, you can use cloth panty liners and /or period underwear at the points in your cycle where you have heavy discharge.
Disposable panty liners can cause irritation so try to avoid wearing panty liners everyday. Opt for reusable panty liners to save money, be more gentle on your vulva and keep your carbon footprint down.
Vaginal discharge needs to make its way out, it carries away any germs, bacteria and debris that enters your vagina so avoid tampons and cups to catch discharge. Remember, your body is a wonderfully complex and efficient machine, and discharge is just one of its many tricks. So, embrace it, love it, and if you ever find yourself unsure about something, don't hesitate to seek help and reassurance.
If you found this blog useful and want to read more -
Top six reusable sanitary pads
Reusable period products and toxic shock syndrome
Are reusable period pads safe?
How to prevent leaks on your period
If you want to more information about switching to reusable pee and period products, feel free to contact the team. You can drop them a email or use the online chat. The team all use the products themselves and nothing is TMI. We all happily overshare our own experiences.
About the Author: Kirstin loves sea swimming and lives with her three children by the seaside. As part of Cheeky Wipes customer service team she spends most days talking about periods, poo, and pee.