Vaginal discharge is one of those topics that doesn't really make it to the dinner table, but being informed can save vagina owners a lot of worry and confusion. So we know fluids are secreted from tiny glands in the vagina and cervix but different colors and smells can be unnerving.
To avoid any pre-mature freak-outs or to approach an unpleasant situation in a calm, cool, and collected way, we called in an expert. Below, Dr. Karyn Eilber, founder of Glissant lux lubricants and professor of urology and gynecology at Cedars Sinai answers our pressing questions about vaginal discharge.
What Is Vaginal Discharge in General?
"Vaginal discharge in general is a combination of fluid secreted by the vagina, cervix, and uterus," says Dr. Eilber. "The discharge helps clean the vagina — kind of like a self-cleaning oven." Although vaginal discharge happens every day, the way it looks and smells can vary.
What Is Normal Discharge?
"Normal discharge is typically thin and clear to white in color," says Dr. Eilber. That means anything else out of the ordinary should be a sign that something is going on with your vagina.
What Are Different Kinds of Vaginal Discharge? What Do They Each Mean?
"Generally with less hormones, there is less discharge," says Dr. Eilber. It's normal for vaginal discharge odor, color, and/or consistency to change with hormonal changes like those that come with a menstrual cycle or perimenopause, or menopause.
"Thick, white discharge associated with itching can indicate a yeast infection. Greyish or yellowish discharge associated with a fishy odor can be bacterial vaginosis or bacterial imbalance in the vagina," she explains. "Bloody or brown discharge not associated with infection or a menstrual cycle, especially in a menopausal woman, may indicate something serious like cancer."
Editor's note: Remember to always consult your doctor if something looks or feels off, but this speed course in vaginal discharge should give you the clarity and confidence you need to take charge in any situation.
To learn more about all things vaginal health and wellness, check out the xoNecole Women's Health section here.
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