One of the most common concerns I hear from patients is about their vaginal discharge. “I have an infection‚Ä¶I’m too wet‚Ä¶I’m too dry‚Ä¶I’m dripping all the time‚Ä¶” Some women come into my office multiple times a year because they‚Äôve noticed a change in their secretions. But vaginal discharge is a good thing — it’s actually a sign of a healthy, working vagina.
What vaginal discharge means:
- Your vagina is keeping itself clean, just like when your skin sheds cells all day long.
- Your vagina is keeping itself lubricated, so it doesn’t stick to itself (ouch).
- Your vagina is actually protecting itself from infection, by forming a slippery barrier between you and the outside world.
What vaginal discharge doesn’t (necessarily) mean:
- You have an infection. I promise, most vaginal discharge is normal, especially when it changes throughout your cycle: from white and thick, to clear and stretchy, to downright watery.
- You’re not keeping yourself clean. Discharge has NOTHING to do with how often you wash or shower.
Okay, what discharge MIGHT mean:
- You’ve developed a non-STD infection, like bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection.
- You’ve caught an STD, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomonas.
- You’re pregnant.
- You’re on the birth control pill.
- You’re sexually aroused.
So what should you worry about? Changes such as color, consistency, amount, and/or smell of your vaginal secretions that are not like your normal monthly changes. Abnormal vaginal discharge may also come with itching, soreness, rash, a burning sensation when peeing, or pain. If you have any of these symptoms, see your gyno for an exam.
Do any of you have discharge worries?
– Dr. Kate
Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on women‚Äôs health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.