Decode your discharge

There is a game that we women know how to play all too well. Feeling a little dampness in your drawers? Unsure what that weird smell is? Welcome to “What’s that in my underwear?!”, the super fun guessing game that females never get to stop playing. Vaginal discharge is a thing, and it’s not going away any time soon.  

The good news is, getting to know your discharge can be a key factor in understanding your overall vaginal health. Discharge can help us track where we are in our cycle and if we regularly pay attention we can spot discharge that is out of the norm. So, how canyou start to decode your discharge? 

First, get to know your normal discharge

Normal discharge changes based on the hormones produced throughout your menstrual cycle. Elastic, clear discharge happens around ovulation and in large volumes. Right after your period you could notice light discharge that is whiter and dryer, or no discharge at all. It could always vary person to person but if you start paying attention you’ll probably notice a pattern. Anything outside of that pattern is worth investigating.  

 An important note here is that this is only true if you’re not using a hormonal birth control. Since hormonal birth control shuts down the body’s natural hormone production, you won’t see changes in your discharge to the same extent.  

So, what should you be looking out for?  

Look out for any colour and odor changes in your discharge. White discharge can be a normal part of your cycle, but if it’s paired with a strong odor or has a different texture than usual (think more like cottage cheese, less like boogers), then you might have a yeast infection. You’ll probably also be itchy in this case which is a tell-tale sign.  

Dark yellow to green discharge could indicate a sexually transmitted infection, and usually carries additional signs as well; if you’re paying attention to the smell of your discharge you’ll probably notice a change.  

Grey discharge is not a normal discharge colour, and if you notice this, look out for some other signs and symptoms as well. It’s a common sign of bacterial vaginosisand is usually paired with vaginal itching and irritation and a strong fishy smell. While all discharge abnormalities warrant a visit to the doctor, grey discharge should be prioritized.  

Pink or reddish discharge could mean a few things, but it generally occurs when there is a bit of blood mixed with normal discharge. Light pink discharge could be associated with spotting before a period, a small tear or abrasion caused by penetrative sex, spotting during ovulation, or implantation bleeding in early pregnancy.  

In all abnormal cases, seek out a doctor appointment to get yourself checked out. This is why getting to know your normal discharge is so important: the faster you notice something is wrong, the faster you can get it solved!

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