written by
Heather Tobin

The Dish on Vaginal Discharge: The Fundamentals You Need to Know

Mental Health & Self-Care 5 min read

Discharge begins around the time of puberty. It can occur up to 6 months before you begin menstruating.

What is it?

Discharge is fluid from the cervix and vagina. The fluid is secreted from glands and helps wash away dead cells and debris from the cervix effectively to keep the vagina clean and healthy.

Think of discharge as your own personal Molly Maid but for your intimate bits.

If only I had as an effective a system for my house.
Alas. Toddlers.

You will experience different kinds of discharge throughout your cycle.

Here’s what you might expect:

During a normal monthly cycle you may notice your discharge changes throughout.

If you notice your discharge has become whiter and thick, this is a sign of ovulation. Estrogen increases the amount of fluid being produced and changes its viscosity. Your discharge might take on a more transparent look, resembling the consistency of egg whites. It could also be slightly tacky.

This thicker mucus actually is meant to help sperm survive longer in the body, increasing chances of pregnancy.

What your body is automatically prepping for. Good ol’ biological imperative.

As your cycle progresses you’ll notice less discharge leading up to your period.

Just before your period your discharge might be tinged pink (also known as spotting).

During your period your discharge will be red and bloody as your body sheds the uterine lining (that gets built up in preparation for fertilization).

Right after your period you might notice you have less discharge than normal.

Everyone’s cycle is different and the time frame will differ but overall this is what you can expect.

Discharge can vary due to other factors as well. During pregnancy and menopause your estrogen levels may fluctuate, typically causing less discharge than usual. This can lead to vaginal dryness.

While some fluctuation in discharge during your cycle is normal, there are some changes to colour, consistency and smell, that if you experience please discuss with your doctor.

Here are some things to look out for:

Is your discharge thick, white and chunky?
If your discharge has suddenly gotten the consistency of cottage cheese with an odour you could have an infection.

Discharge with this consistency is usually associated with a yeast infection and is often paired with itchiness and irritation.

We’ve all been there.
While its not uncommon, it is something you want to get treated.

Is your discharge is deep yellow or greenish?
Having a slight tinge of yellow is normal. Having a dark yellow or greenish hue can be a sure sign of infection including STIs and STDs. Talk to your doc.

Is your discharge grey?
Having a grey coloured discharge is not normal and should be discussed with your doc. This colour is associated with Bacterial Vaginosis. BV is an infection but isn't considered an STI. If you have BV your discharge can be whitish/greyish and can have a ‘fishy’ smell.

Definitely talk to your doctor if you have these symptoms as it can lead to numerous complications if left untreated.

Now that you know what your discharge can mean and how imperative it is at maintaining a healthy vagina, there are some things to avoid so that your own personal cleaning service can keep on keeping on.

Avoid douching. Douching is when you rinse out or wash the inside of your vagina. While proper hygiene is important, its not necessary to douche. Remember your personal cleaning team? Your discharge is meant to flush out your system naturally, and douching can cause more harm than good.
Your vagina contains natural bacteria (known as vaginal flora) and douching (even with just water) can upset the balance of good bacteria, which can lead to bad bacteria to take over and cause an infection.

So long story short. Don’t douche for your vaginal health.

While discharge is a natural occurrence, some of us don’t always feel fresh. If you’re looking for a way to deal with the daily discharge deposits in your underthings then consider Lil Helper’s Hyps liners. A great alternative to the disposable liners our moms always encouraged us to use.

Photo Credit: Jessica T. Hyps come in lots of fun prints!

Here is what Jessica T., an everyday Hyps user has to say:

"Some women experience discharge everyday" is what my doctor told me when I asked. Well great I guess I am one of those "some women". Everyday discharge has been my normal for the last decade and it only got worse postpartum. I used to use disposable liners everyday and sometimes I would need to change them multiple times. If I didn't wear a liner I certainly needed to change. I was tired of always adding liners to the grocery pickup every 90 days right around the time Lil Helper came out with Hyps. I was already using Lil Helper diapers so I thought might as well give these a shot. I ran out of disposable liners the day they arrived so it was truly perfect timing. I've been using them for months now everyday and they have changed my life. I am no longer ruining underwear from holes caused by constantly peeling off those sticky liners. I am not worried about running out. I can fold these up nice and small discreetly for my purse when I am out for the day. They are way more comfortable than disposable liners which sometimes folded up making the rest of the day so irritating. If they didn't fold up sometimes they would stick well "where the sun don't shine" which was so uncomfortable. The Lil Helper Hyps have a stay dry layer and are bamboo so they aren't hot even on the sunniest of day. Everyday discharge is apart of my life as a woman and now with the Hyps liners I don't worry about all the uncomfortable situations I used to worry about.
Hyps come in so many great prints! Photo credit: Jessica T.

While I know a lot about my own body I am no medical professional. If you’re ever unsure about your discharge- or if it’s abnormal for any reason, do not hesitate to speak to your doc.

About the Author

Heather is a STAHWM who lives in St. John’s NL. where she’s raising two humans, two dogs, a cat and a fish. In between chasing her hooligans and waiting for her Hogwarts letter, she enjoys knitting, crocheting and campy 80’s horror flicks.

Mental Health & Self-Care