Down to talk about discharge
It happens to people with vulvas literally all day every day. Discharge is your vagina's way of cleaning itself which means that no, you really really don’t have to squirt water or soap up there and you 100% absolutely do not need to use a vaginal brush (you can read my full rant about this here).
Discharge, like your vagina, is slightly acidic. This helps keep your vagina inhospitable to some germs which keeps it nice and healthy. However, because it’s slightly acidic it means it can bleach underwear. If you wear dark underwear and have found yellow or bleached stains on them, this is why. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal.
Discharge is something we don’t talk about that much and it’s something that most of us still try to hide from others. If I’m getting changed in front of my friends, I’ll quickly whip my pants off and hide them immediately. If I’m taking off my pants in front of a sexual partner, I try and make sure they are ‘face down’ on the floor or hidden under my other clothes. It really annoys me that I do this but it’s simply because discharge is not spoken about and is therefore not normalised. We don’t see photos of pants with discharge. We rarely see other people’s pants. It makes us feel like we’re the only ones. So here are some of my pants with discharge to try and dispel those fears that you're the only one.
And because I'm trying to be younger than I am, I also made a TikTok to help others realise that discharge is normal and that at the end of the day (I mean that literally) everyone’s pants look something a bit like this. Maybe they’ll have more or less discharge, maybe that discharge is a slightly different colour or maybe it won’t have dried yet and will look wetter.
When I first showed my discharge on Instagram (before it got removed and I almost got banned) I had hundreds of messages from people that were relieved to find out that they were normal as they had never heard anyone else talk about discharge before. They thought there was something wrong with them. This is heart-breaking. We shouldn’t be feeling like we’re broken because our sex education is so woefully lacking.
As well as combatting (yet more) shame around our genitals, I think it’s important to talk about discharge because it’s super helpful for letting you know whether your vagina is healthy or not. Understanding our bodies and what is normal is essential for keeping us healthy and advocating for our ongoing vaginal health.
Here is a really useful Instagram post from Eve Appeal to give you more information about what the different colours of discharge means. You can see the whole thing and learn about what each colour might indicate here.
If your discharge is yellow, green or grey or has a very strong smell that is different from normal, it could be a sign of infection and you should go speak to a doctor. Using a scented wash is not going to fix this, in fact it could make it worse in the long run.
Discharge is normal. It keeps your vagina clean and healthy and lets you know if something is wrong. It might bleach your pants, it might be outstandingly irritating when you rush to the loo and discover that it's not your period, it's just a huge gush of discharge instead, it might make you feel uncomfortably wet on a heavy discharge day. But it can also do cool things like help you work out when you’re ovulating and therefore are more likely to get pregnant or let you know if there's an infection or STI you need to be aware of. At the end of the day (and I mean that literally and figuratively) it is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
So let's stop hiding our pants and feeling so embarrassed by our discharge. If anything we should be celebrating it for keeping our vaginas so wonderfully clean and healthy! If only my armpits could learn the same trick.