Know your vagina.
One topic that is rarely ever covered in US sex education is vaginal discharge, which is mind-boggling to me given that it’s an important bodily phenomenon that happens to everyone born with a vagina. Since it’s such a normal process and can contain important information about our health and menstrual cycles, why doesn’t anybody talk about it? I dunno, so I’m going to talk about it.
Discharge is fluid produced in glands located around the vagina and cervix that is expelled out the vaginal opening, cleaning out bacteria and dead cells along the way. It’s also naturally acidic and plays an important role in regulating the vagina’s pH and preventing infections.
The look and amount of discharge that occurs will vary from person-to-person and also changes over the course of each individual’s menstrual cycle. The look of healthy discharge can range from clear and stretchy to thicker and white, and it often goes yellowish when exposed to air. A lot of people tend to release a smaller amount of thicker discharge in the couple of weeks or so following their period, then a larger amount of the thin, stretchy kind during ovulation, and then revert back to the thick stuff, but in a larger amount, as they approach their next period. A large amount of slippery discharge is often produced during arousal and acts as natural lubricant for sex. But again, all of this can vary significantly from person-to-person.
Because vaginal discharge is so rarely discussed, when people start experiencing it they often get nervous or embarrassed and think there’s something wrong. Discharge itself is completely normal and healthy, but it can also carry warning signs about your health, as the color, amount, consistency and/or smell can change if you have an infection down there. Here are a few things to watch out for.
- Thick, white, clumpy discharge resembling cottage cheese. Common sign of a yeast infection.
- Lots and lots of frothy, greenish discharge can mean trichomoniasis.
- Grey or green discharge with a fishy smell is common in bacterial vaginosis.
- If it appears pus-y and smells bad, it could be chlamydia.
- And if it’s odorless and abnormally creamy white or yellow, it may be gonorrhea.
Pay attention to your regular discharge over the course of your menstrual cycle and get a sense of what’s normal for you, so that you can spot if anything unusual starts happening. Other than that, just let the vagina do its thing. Trying to mess with it and get rid of its natural, healthy behaviors are likely to leave you with irritation and possibly an infection. Normal discharge is a sign that your body is taking care of itself and keeping you healthy, which is the most important thing.
Do you have any other questions about discharge or other things vaginas do? Leave them down in the comments.
Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time!