It’s so important that women understand what their bodies are telling them, especially in this taboo region, which shouldn’t be a secret at all. The vagina is a marvellous self-cleaning wonder, but it’s not always consistent. Depending on the state of your health and menstrual cycle, the colour and consistency of vaginal discharge can change, sometimes dramatically.
What is it?
Vaginal discharge is a combination of cervical mucus and vaginal secretions, meaning you’ll almost always be producing it. You’ll be familiar with the colour, smell and texture of your discharge so if you don’t notice a change, you can rest assured that your discharge is normal. A strong odour or noticeable change in colour is a good indication that you may have an infection or that your body is going through some kind of changes.
Physiologic discharge, as it is called, is a normal, daily occurrence. Normal discharge is generally a white or clear colour with a light, watery or stringy consistency. Vaginal discharge can be affected by many factors, including pregnancy, if you are pre- or postmenopausal, if you feel run down or have a fever and if there is any physical discomfort such as itching. These factors are also useful in determining conditions causing oddly coloured or smelling discharge as the colour alone is usually not enough. With that in mind, let’s explore what the different colours mean.
White and thick discharge
Light, white vaginal discharge is completely normal and generally appears at the beginning or end of your menstrual cycle. If you notice it getting thicker you may find you have a yeast infection, especially if you also notice itching or a strong odor. If the odor or itching is accompanied by pain, you could have an STI or vaginosis.
Clear and slimy
If you experience clear discharge with a saliva-like texture, you may be ovulating. This can last a couple of days every month and will go back to normal on its own. Useful to notice if you want to get pregnant – or not!
Clear and light
A clear and watery discharge is perfectly normal and usually happens after a long day of activity or after a workout.
Brown or red discharge
A brown or reddish discharge is normal if it happens near the beginning or end of your menstrual cycle as some of the blood will mix with your discharge. You may also notice a brown colour shortly after your period ends. Spotting may also occur in-between periods or during pregnancy. If you experience spotting whilst pregnant, get yourself checked out by a doctor as that’s an early indication of a miscarriage. After menopause, spotting can indicate cervical cancer. Always see a doctor if you’re not sure.
Thick, yellow or green discharge
A thick, smelly and yellow discharge indicates infection. If you’ve recently had sexual intercourse, this may indicate STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea or trichomoniasis (commonly known as trich).
Help your body keep things naturally in check by being kind and gentle to your skin. Here are 10 simple ways to be kinder to your vagina:
- Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water or diluted cranberry juice if you have a sweet tooth.
- Snack on all natural Greek yogurt. It’s packed with probiotics and will help maintain the healthy flora of your gut and nether regions, keeping Candida at bay.
- Ditch commercial detergents, use as little as possible and opt for a more natural detergent. Your skin will thank you.
- Always wear cotton underwear. It’s just the best. Everything can breathe and feel at peace with the world when dressed in 100% cotton. (You don’t have to go mad, but we will just point out that organic cotton is the best option).
- Remove swimwear, workout clothes and any wet clothing as soon as you possibly can. Stewing in these items will fast-track you to thrush, particularly if you’re quite sensitive.
- When thinking about what brand of tampons or pads to use, always go for cotton, unperfumed, and again, preferably organic.
- Protect your pelvic floor with Yoga, specialised exercises that target the area and lots of core-strengthening activities.
- Use a water-soluble lubricant. If your sexy-time consists of even a moment of dryness, either stop to reboot or whip out the essential aid. Not having enough lubrication during intercourse can cause irritation, tearing and leave you prone to infection.
- Don’t skip your smear test.
- Be wary of what soaps and products you use in the shower.
Your vagina has a completely different pH level to the rest of your body. This means you need to use products that won’t throw this off-kilter. A healthy vaginal pH is somewhere between 3.5 to 4.5 whereas the rest of your skin is above 5.4.
Discover more about healthy skin care products with our diploma course in Holistic Skincare Products.
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