I don’t think I am the only one who, upon hearing the term “vaginal discharge,” immediately begins to feel a little woozy. It’s not that I am against discharge in actuality (I love that the vagina is self-cleansing, personally), or vaginas themselves (I work for Gurl, after all, where vaginas are one of the most common topics of discussion), but the combination of the prefix “dis” and suffix “charge” is something that, aesthetically, simply does not work for me.
But, here’s the thing–I don’t want to be corny, but, in many ways, your vagina serves as a sort of portal (sorry) that can foretell (sorry) what is going on in your body, mind, and spirit (sorry sorry sorry). As it turns out, your discharge, in its actual, physical form, is pretty useful, since it can be an indicator of any illness or imbalance within your body. One of the best ways to figure out what’s up on the health side is by paying attention to your vaginal discharge. So, check out these ways that you can tell if your vaginal discharge is normal or not:
Discharge Before Your First Period = NormalIf you haven't gotten your period yet, and you've begun to notice some discharge that's somewhere between a gray and white color coming from your vagina, don't freak out. Usually, this is an indicator that you're probably going to get your period in about six months. It's also pretty typical for this discharge to cause some irritation (since it's basically the result of the cells in your vagina changing from "immature" to "mature") so try not to make the mistake that a lot of girls make and treat it as a yeast infection. Instead, try to keep it clean and wear underwear made of cotton so it's easier for your vagina to breathe. Image source: Getty Images
Discharge That Looks Like Egg Whites = NormalIf your discharge has a somewhat egg white-like consistency--you know, clear, goopy, and, if you touch it, a little bit stretchy--this is perfectly normal. Usually, this type of discharge occurs around day 14 (give or take a few) of your cycle, when you're at your most fertile. This is also the type of discharge that feels the most, ahem, wet, so if you feel uncomfortable with it, you can wear a pantiliner. Image source: Getty Images
White Discharge = NormalWhite, creamy discharge is pretty common. Usually, this type of discharge happens a few days after your period, when your estrogen levels begin to rise. This discharge might also look off-white or even yellow when you notice it in your underwear, and that's totally fine--this is just the color it turns when the air hits it and it dries out. Image source: Getty Images
Brown Discharge = (Usually) NormalMany people would see an unidentifiable brown substance in their underwear as grounds to panic. And, at first glance, sure. Unidentifiable brown substances are sort of scary! But, if this happens after your period, it's totally normal--in this case, it's just your regular discharge mixing with some leftover dried-out blood from your period as it cleans out your vagina. But. Notice brown discharge when you're not anywhere close to your period? Get that checked out. It could be nothing, but it could also be spotting due to pregnancy. Image source: Getty Images
Cottage Cheese-Like Discharge = Not NormalHaving a whitish, sort of-thick discharge is pretty normal. But if you start to notice that your discharge starts to take on a consistency that's more similar to that of cottage cheese than anything else, along with pain and/or itching in the vagina, you should get it checked out--usually, this is a sign of a yeast infection. (This type of discharge usually doesn't have a foul odor, either, so don't wait for that to show up before seeing a doctor.) Image source: Getty Images
Yellow Discharge = Not NormalIs your discharge taking on a yellow-green color? Is it frothy in its consistency? Does it have a sorta-funky scent that goes along with it, too? One that's different from the way your vagina usually smells? If so, you should get it checked out--often, this is a sign of a yeast or bacteria infection, or, potentially, an STI. Image source: Getty Images
Gray, Smelly Discharge = Not NormalUnsurprisingly, something that's gray, smelly, and coming out of your vagina isn't exactly normal. Of course, there is no truly "normal" scent for a vagina, but, at this point, you probably know what yours should smell like. If you suddenly notice a distinctly fishy scent accompanied by a thin, gray discharge, this could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis. Either way, it's probably not super comfortable for you, so you should get it checked out. Image source: Getty Images
Does vaginal discharge freak you out? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!
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