You probably don’t spend a lot of time talking to your friends about vaginal discharge. But as gynecologists, we have a lot of these conversations. Probably the most important takeaway is that most vaginal discharge is normal!
What is vaginal discharge?
The vagina is self-cleaning. Just like your eyes, your vagina produces its own fluid to wash out any dead cells, irritants, or debris, and to serve as lubrication. Some of the discharge is also mucus from the cervix.
What is normal?
Vaginal discharge varies throughout the month. Before or after your period, it can be thick or sticky. Around ovulation time, it is often clear, stretchy, and slippery, like egg whites (this helps sperm find its way into the uterus). The color can range from clear to white or yellowish. There is always some scent, which can also change during the month, particularly for a day or two after sexual intercourse.
OK, what is abnormal discharge?
If you have bleeding, pain, itching, or a foul or fishy odor, call us. There could be an infection or another problem.
My discharge is annoying. What can I do?
First, remember that all reproductive-age women have vaginal discharge. Second, think about the self-cleaning functionality. Just like your eyes, if something is irritating your vagina, it will produce more discharge. Avoid feminine washes, douches, and scented products; simply wash the vulva (outside part) with water once a day. For more detailed hygiene suggestions, check out our vulvar care guidelines
. Finally, you can always talk about it with your GYN. There are some specific things that can be helpful, like changing your birth control method.
But really, how much is normal?
Probably more than you think! Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN and blogger, has made a video to demonstrate normal vaginal discharge.