If you have a vagina, I'm willing to bet you've probably wondered whether or not your discharge is normal. After all, vaginas can be kind of confusing as it is, and depending on the time of month, your discharge could change texture, consistency, smell, or even color.
First of all, it's important to know vaginal discharge is a totally normal, and sometimes even frequent occurrence, and throughout the process of your menstrual cycle, it can really vary in what it looks and smells like.
Basically, discharge is a byproduct of vaginal self-cleansing. Vaginal glands produce and secrete fluid that carries away bacteria and dead skin cells. In fact, it helps to prevent infection.
However, chances are, you've come to find a gooey substance in your underpants from time to time that might have you asking, "Is this color/texture/scent normal?"
Elite Daily spoke with Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OBGYN and U by Kotex partner, about what different kinds of discharge may mean.
It's important to pay attention to its color and consistency for signs of anything abnormal. If you start to experience abnormalities in color, consistency, the amount of discharge, or you experience discomfort like itching, it's important to consult with a trusted health care provider.
To put your mind totally at ease, here are five different kinds of discharge you may encounter.
1. Clear And Stretchy
Just before you ovulate -- the time in your cycle when the egg is released -- a lot of mucus is produced.
If you're seeing a hefty presence of a clear, and rather elastic substance (think egg whites), that's probably where you're at in your flow. Fun fact: This is when you're at your most fertile.
If you're still finding this type of discharge but you know you're not about to start ovulating, it may be because you're feeling sexually aroused.
2. Thick And White
White, slightly "chalkier," and less elastic in texture, this type of discharge is common at the beginning and end of your menstrual cycle.
It's important to keep in mind here, if you have white discharge accompanied by an odor or itchiness, it could be a sign of a yeast infection -- an annoying malady indeed, but easily treatable, of course.
3. Brown Or Maroon Discharge
Right as your period says goodbye for the month, you might notice a brownish type of discharge that maybe seems like light period blood, but maybe doesn't?
No need to fret -- it's just some of that older blood that has had more time to oxidize.
In rare cases, brown discharge can be a sign of something more serious, like polycystic ovarian syndrome. But this is usually only a cause for concern if the discharge is sustained over a long period of time.
Of course, be sure to consult with your doctor if you're feeling worried about it.
4. Pink Discharge
A slightly pink hue is common right before or after your period, as you are just about to start bleeding, or you're finishing up your cycle.
However, if you start to notice pink discharge between periods, not near the beginning or end of a cycle, Dr. Shepard recommends consulting your health care provider to make sure all is well down there.
5. Yellow And Green
Last but not least, this less-than-ideal discharge typically has a yellow or green hue to it, along with cottage cheese-esque clumps and possibly a foul odor and some itching.
If you've noticed anything like this showing up in your undies, you'll probably want to give your OBGYN a call, just so you can rule out any possible infections or sexually transmitted diseases.
Overall, Dr. Shepard says nothing really needs to be "done" about discharge -- it's a totally natural process.
Be sure to pay attention to your body so you can tell the difference between your usual discharge and anything that's a bit more abnormal.