As women, we have to deal with a lot when it comes to our bodies. Is my period regular? If I missed it, what does that mean? Do I have any lumps on my breasts? How often do I have to go to my OB-GYN for a checkup? If my vagina is itchy, how can I tell if it's an STD or an ingrown hair? And so on. But one thing that might have slipped your mind—because you've been experiencing it as far back as you can remember—is vaginal discharge. Did you know that you can tell a lot about your vagina's health through the type of discharge you have? So how do you know if your discharge is *normal* or if it's time to see a doctor? Allow us to educate you.
But first, what is vaginal discharge?
Vaginal discharge is made up of fluid from your vagina and mucus from your cervix. It is typically clear or white when everything is normal. Sometimes, it can be slightly watery even. As uncomfortable as it may feel when it's just sitting on your underwear, discharge has a pretty big role: It's your vagina's way of staying clean. It also helps keep your vagina moisturized and prevents infection or irritation.
How much vaginal discharge is "normal"?
The next time you're at the gym, take a look around. Though everyone is working out, people tend to sweat differently. One person could be soaking through their shirt while another only has a few beads of sweat on their forehead. Discharge is the same way: It's different for every person. What's important is to keep track of what's normal for you.
How does your discharge change during your cycle?
Around that time of the month, your discharge can slightly change from watery to stretchy. This is an indication that you're probably ovulating. As your period gets closer, your estrogen levels will continue to rise, which means your cervix will produce more mucus causing your discharge to be a bit stretchy and slippery. If you notice your discharge turning brown (or even bloody) during your menstruation, don't be alarmed. It makes sense.
When should you schedule an appointment then?
While your discharge can change throughout the month, green or yellow discharge is a clear sign that something may be wrong, especially if the odor is unpleasant and the consistency is thick. It may be a sign of an infection. Also, if you notice that you have waaay more vaginal discharge, it might be a symptom of a sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis.