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- Girl Talk - PERIODS
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October 2009 Blogs
ASK LORI AND LIANE, October 2009, by Lori Clemente
I started getting stuff from 'down there' in my underwear that's not my period. It doesn't hurt or anything but is not always the same and I'm worried that there is something wrong with me.
~ Anonymous, 12
Thank you for your question. As a Nurse Practitioner, I am asked about this topic very often by girls and women of all ages, so I know for a fact that lots of girls out there wonder about the same thing.
It is called ‘vaginal discharge’. I know - how embarrassing to talk about, but you are safe to read about it here.
So what is it?
First of all, it is completely normal and in fact it is healthy and supposed to be there. Vaginal discharge is seen by what is on your underwear or felt with wiping after going to the bathroom. It is the vagina's way of cleansing itself. At a conference I attended one time another Nurse Practitioner joked that the vagina is like a 'self-cleaning oven'. The discharge actually flushes things like bacteria away to balance out the flora and pH. That’s a good thing!
Vaginal discharge changes throughout your life from the time you are little until after you reach menopause (which is the time after your period stops) but it is always there. It starts off as a small amount and increases when you hit puberty. It also increases with any type of arousal, like kissing or even just looking at something that 'turns you on'. You can't control it - it's natural and automatic. Discharge also changes depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. Right after your period, it is sticky and may be white or yellow. It is more like a clear egg white texture when you are in the middle of your cycle which is about 14 days after the first day of your period. (This is also when you ovulate, meaning that an egg is released from your ovary).
What if it doesn't seem right?
If at any time your vaginal discharge is abnormal, you may need a trip to your Doctor or Nurse to check it out. ‘Abnormal’ could mean that it seems very different from what you are used to... maybe there is WAY more of it, it may appear to have a different color (like green), or it has a foul odour. Sometimes there can even be some itching or soreness. If you do notice something ‘abnormal’, don’t panic. Abnormal discharge is usually just an imbalance in the vagina and there are remedies that can help to restore that balance.
This topic is not openly spoken about so it’s easy to get worried or concerned without having the proper information. Understanding what is normal for your body is important. Pay attention to your body - what it does and how it feels throughout your cycle - and you will start to see patterns. Knowing your body and its normal patterns will help you to identify when things are needing attention, and when all is going according to your natural cycle.