Discharge – what’s normal and what’s not?
Is it normal to have discharge? Absolutely. Vaginal discharge is nothing to panic about. In fact, it’s a good thing.
White discharge is the body’s way of keeping everything clean. It’s produced naturally from the neck of the womb, known as the cervix, and the amount varies throughout your menstrual cycle. Most women get a lot of discharge just before a period.
Not sure if your discharge is normal? As long as it’s clear, white or pale yellow in colour, and has minimal odour, there’s no need for concern. If you’re worried about your underwear staying dry, or just hate that damp feeling, you could use a panty liner. But if the discharge begins to smell a lot more than usual, or the colour changes to a darker yellow or green, or if there’s an unusually large amount, see your doctor. You could have an infection.
Gradually, you’ll become aware of what’s normal for you as your discharge varies naturally throughout your cycle. This will help you recognise abnormal discharge if it occurs, and deal with it. And if you’re worried about it, talk to your doctor or school nurse.
The vagina is self-cleaning, so there’s no need to wash inside it (referred to as ‘douching’). In fact, it’s a really bad idea. Douching can upset the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina and lead to unpleasant conditions like thrush or bacterial vaginosis. Using perfumed soaps, bubble baths and shower gels can also cause abnormal vaginal discharge. So never clean your vagina with anything strongly perfumed. Use a mild soap and warm water to stay clean and free of infection.