V-squad, if there’s one thing I want you to walk away from my latest confessional series with, it’s that you need to take charge of your discharge!
Sometimes during my darkest hours of bacterial vaginosis, I really wished my vagina could just speak up and tell me what it needed. Your pussy might not have a voice, but it IS trying to communicate with you, and it does it through discharge! Time to listen up!
Is discharge normal?
Let’s get one thing straight: Discharge is completely normal! Your vagina is basically a self-cleaning oven. Discharge is fluid made by glands in the vagina and cervix, which carries away dead cells and bacteria. Finding some in your undies is just a sign that your pink fortress is working!
What does normal discharge look like?
Everybody’s normal is different. Some people get a lot, some people get a little. Sometimes it’s thinner, sometimes it’s thicker. Some people’s is very clear, some people’s is milky-whiteish. Your discharge can vary throughout your monthly cycle and throughout your lifetime. It’s about tuning into what your normal range is. #knowthyself
Dr. Angela Jones’ rule of thumb is, “If it doesn’t itch, burn or smell bad, then it’s completely par for the course.”
How should my vagina smell?
Nobody has said it better than erotic artist Noelia Towers:
“Vaginas smell like a fucking vagina. They have different smells depending on our hormonal changes. It’s a fucking hole in our bodies full of good and bad bacteria and juices that work to keep our pH balanced – what do you expect? It’s not going to smell like fucking roses, it’s not going to taste like a red velvet cake, but neither does semen. Every time someone says vaginas are gross, a kitty dies. It just makes them seem ignorant and immature.”
There you have it, folks! You don’t have to be completely odourless! Vaginas should smell like vagina! If you need a guideline, Dr. Angela Jones says, “As long as you’re not offended, it’s probably fine. It’s your scent.”
What if the colour, smell or consistency of my discharge is unusual?
The short answer is: Go to your doctor or your gynaecologist.
Before you book an appointment, though, you could ask yourself if you’ve changed something up recently. Are you using a new laundry powder? Have you started wearing a different kind of underwear? If so, try swapping back to your old laundry powder or undies and see if that helps restore balance.
If you’ve made no significant changes, or if swapping back to your old ways doesn’t make a difference, then get yourself to the doctor’s office, especially if the unusual discharge is accompanied by vaginal itching or burning.
Here’s a little guideline from WebMD for interpreting abnormal discharge:
How do I look after my discharge?
Remember my ecosystem analogy? Very fittingly, gynaecologists talk about the vaginal flora – that’s all the microorganisms (like yeast and bacteria) that colonize the vagina. Wikipedia explains that “the primary colonizing bacteria of a healthy individual are of the genus Lactobacillus.” All of this good bacteria is responsible for keeping bad bacteria at bay. These little guys are your friends, and if you want to look after your vagina, then you’re going to have to look after them too.
Eat for your V
You can find lactobacillus in dairy products like yoghurt and kefir, or in fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut. Introducing live cultured food into your diet will introduce healthy bacteria into your vagina.
Your vagina needs to breathe
Your vagina’s ecosystem needs things to be cool and dry to remain balanced. FULL COTTON UNDIES ARE A MUST! That’s because cotton is a breathable fabric that absorbs sweat. Synthetic fabrics, on the other hand, keep you hot and wet, which could tip the scale in favour of bad yeast and bacteria.
If you think your vag needs a break, then go commando! I personally can’t do daytime commando (jeans give my box a hard time), so instead I go for no panties under my pjs! It’s a great way to give your girlfriend an all-night breather!
Loose fitting clothing is also really important. While I’m very attached to my skinny jeans, I’ve come to understand that if I’m going to be sitting at a desk all day, then my vagina needs me to wear something else. She can handle skinny jeans if it’s just for a night on the town.
Stay away from harsh or perfumed soaps
In fact, my gynecologist has told me to stay away from ALL soap. She is adamant that warm water is literally all you need to clean your vulva. Soap strips away moisture and changes your pH. Your lady lips don’t need that in their life, and you definitely shouldn’t be putting any cleaning products like douches inside your vagina either.
Wipe from front to back
When you’re on the throne, wipe from front to back to keep fecal matter away from your vagina.
Practice good hygiene during your period
People who suffer from recurring vaginal infections can often experience a flare up around their period. This could be because the pH of our normally slightly acidic vaginas becomes more alkaline in the presence of blood. With that in mind, it’s really important to:
- Change your tampon regularly.
- Don’t wear pads or panty liners for longer than necessary. #DontHotBoxYourBox
- Sterilize your menstrual cup thoroughly by boiling it for 10 minutes before and after your period.
At the end of the day, as Madge the Vag points out, “If you don’t understand what your vagina’s trying to tell you, go to your doctor! Your gyno speaks pussy!”
Photo: Ian Dooley