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let's bust the discharge myth, we're all about learning our bodies

Cycles

5th May 2021

Here at ohne, we talk about topics that we think don’t get enough public attention. So today that’s discharge. Our main message? Your vagina is sensitive, that’s why we want you to stop stuffing it with toxin-saturated feminine products. Your vaginas sensitivity means that it will cue you in if something is amiss (which, lets face it, happens to the best of us every now and again).

Before we get into the juicy (pun intended) details, let’s have a little rant about how the mainstream media paints the idyllic picture of a barbies vagina and how that would look, smell and act, rather that a real functioning human one. Then, the big companies follow suit by producing strange and scented menstrual health products to help us ‘cope better’ with our periods…but seriously though, rose-scented pads? Do you know how many chemicals are in that shit? Sure, cleanliness is good for your health but not to the extent that it actually becomes bad for you. Clean doesn’t always mean “my vagina needs to smell like bloody perfume.”

Your vagina is part of your body and it has its bodily functions too, much like any other body part. And one of these functions is to produce discharge. (Can we pause for a minute to get over how horrible the word ‘discharge’ is?…) Discharge is caused by mucus (not sure which word is worse?) produced by the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that leads into the vagina. Here’s the good news about discharge: it keeps our gorgeous vaginas moist and helps to protect them from infection. Most of the time, discharge is totally normal, but excessive amounts of odor or strange coloration could be a sign of a small infection, most likely of the yeast or bacterial type. That being said, there are some things that you ought to be on the lookout for.

The “Do Not Panic” discharge:

  • Is clear or pearly white;

  • Luckily, has no strong scent;

  • Can be thick and a little sticky for most of your menstrual cycle.

  • It becomes clearer, wetter and more slippery around the time of ovulation (although not necessarily for you babes on the pill).

The “Hmmm, Probably Nothing But Worth a Visit to the Doc” discharge:

  • Changes colour – think grey, green, yellow or pink (only half the rainbow then);

  • Has a serious consistency change to normal and becomes lumpy;

  • Increases noticeably in volume;

  • You start to notice a pretty questionable smell (we’re talking rotten meat, bit fishy…);

  • Or you have additional symptoms including soreness or itching around your vagina, pain when peeing, pelvic pain, and bleeding or spotting in between periods or after sex.

If you’ve noticed any of the above changes, it may be a sign that something more sinister is going on. Here’s a few explanations that your doctor might have:

Yeast infection – This is typically caused by a type of yeast called Candida albicans. Yeast normally lives in the vagina in small numbers. So does the common bacteria known as Lactobacillus acidophilus, which helps keep the yeast under control. Now when these organisms are thrown off-balance (like when you wash your vagina with anti-bacterial soap or use mainstream lube), the yeast can grow out of control and thus causes an infection. Don’t sweat though; a yeast infection is easy to treat and normally simply needs a short course of antibiotics or a series of homeopathic remedies if you’d prefer the natural route.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) – Believe it or not, there is an ongoing battle between good and evil in your vagina at any one point. Good bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus, keeps your vagina slightly acidic – and is a powerful weapon in killing off bad bacteria. If the acidity level goes down, bam! Bad bacteria thrives and causes an infection. This can occur naturally or can be down to nasty products, synthetics or sex with a new one on the scene. A mixture of topical and oral treatments from your GP should fix this relatively quickly.

A forgotten tampon or a runaway condom – Yep, it happens. Slip a tampon in there and find you get really busy, real fast and you just might forget all about that little runaway cotton. And condoms. They can slip off and have been known to get lost somewhere inside the unknown reaches of your vagina. Trust us, we’ve heard all the stories. Make sure you visit your GP to get anything ‘lost’ located and removed!

A Sexually Transmitted Disease – STD’s happen (and more often than we realise). Yep, it’s annoying and not something anyone likes to admit. We’re not going to preach too much about safe sex (because we know you know), but if you’re experiencing something weird we’d recommend a better-safe etc checkup.  

***

So here’s our take away: discharge happens, it’s normal. Your vagina is simply looking out for you and it’s time to show that baby some love and be a bit picky about what goes in it (and yes, I know we’re biased but we’d always say avoid toxic tampons). If you think something’s up, a quick trip to a professional could help put it straight so we’d definitely say “do it”. Remember to tell it as it is and never feel embarrassed – we guarantee your doc has seen it all before and if she has a vagina, no doubt she’s experienced it all too.

image credit: Monstera from Pexels

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