Most girls start to find vaginal discharge as they reach puberty. But what is it and what does it look like?
It's part of the vagina's self-cleansing mechanism
What is it?
Discharge is the cream-coloured stuff that comes out of vaginas, and is often found in girls' underwear.
Most girls start to find vaginal discharge as they reach puberty, often about a year before their periods start.
It is made up of salt water, minerals and cells from our bodies.
We make nearly half a teaspoon every day once we've hit puberty.
It's slightly sour - pH 3.5-4.5 on your litmus paper, somewhere between orange juice and beer...
What is it for?
It helps protect our bits from infection, and is part of the vagina's self-cleansing mechanism. It's completely normal and healthy.
When girls get sexually aroused (turned on), the vagina secretes extra moisture to protect and lubricate it during sex. This is different from every-day discharge.
What does normal discharge look like?
Normal discharge can be clear, white, cream or yellow. Some girls get more than others.
It can also change during the month. Many girls find it looks a bit like raw egg white in the first couple of weeks after a period, then it can get more white and goo-ey towards the end of the month.
Being on the pill can change discharge. Some girls get less, some more.
What do I need to look out for?
Changes in your discharge need checking out by a doctor, as it may mean you have thrush or a sexually transmitted infection. So get used to what's normal for you.
Look out for various ways your discharge can change...
- Colour: Turning grey, green or even blood stained.
- Amount: Keep an eye on your discharge so you know what's a normal amount for you.
- Smell: All vaginas have an individual smell. That's normal. But if yours changes or becomes particularly potent, that's different.
If you notice changes, see your GP or local sexual health clinic. Infections are easy to cure with antibiotic pills or creams, but they can cause problems if left untreated.
If you use tampons, it's also worth checking you've haven't forgotten to remove the last one. This can be a cause of smelly discharge.
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