DM DOCTOR: What’s The Real Deal With Discharge?
We've partnered with Libra to talk about discharge and normalise the bloody thing.

Introducing Goopy, Whiffy, Creamy, Bloody, Gunky, Yeasty and Runny. It’s Flow White and the Seven Dwarfs of discharge, here to help guide you on this journey of self discovery in your underpants.

Listen up folks: discharge can be a totally normal thing, whether you’ve got a peen or vagine. The only issues arise when discharge starts getting funky – but we’re here with the help of Libra and Ask Gemmah to get briefed on what’s in your briefs.

Because although you’re probably super embarrassed about a silly little stain or seven, you may not actually have to worry about it after all — and even when you should worry, it’s almost always easily dealt with.

So let’s get some fresh knickers and clear the air.

DM DOCTOR: What’s The Real Deal With Discharge?

drop your dacks

How do you know if your discharge smells okay/normal?

I’m not going to presume what kind of pong you’ve got going on in your nethers, but provided you’re hygienic then there really shouldn’t be any reason for a stank. That’s not to say it won’t smell a little (any smell is due to the protein in discharge being broken down by heat) — for the most part it’s relatively odourless, but it may have a slight scent that varies person to person.

But if we’re talking about so-bad-your-eyes-water-and-you-suddenly-remember-your-gag-reflex smells, that’s when it becomes cause for concern. The best advice I can give you? Know your body and get familiar with your fairy. If you know what it’s like on a normal day, you’ll smell something fishy if something is, well, fishy.

DM DOCTOR: What’s The Real Deal With Discharge?

bit out of tuna

Why is it so heavy before and after periods?

Discharge around period time can be a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes you’ll have less, sometimes you’ll have more — it’s hard to say! You might even get a bit of brown or bloody discharge at the end of your cycle. That’s totally normal, and varies as much as each person’s individual period does. It should come as little surprise to know that a lot of it is because of hormonal changes.

Your uterus is making a tidy little home for a potential foetus, so it’s thinning out a lot of the cervical mucous and after your period it may even still be shedding some of the uterine lining. Not to mention the fact that before your period, ovulation will affect how much you produce. This can definitely explain why your discharge levels seem to be upping the panty-staining ante before or after Satan’s waterfall strikes.

discharge (period time)

this is fine

My discharge ends up staining my underwear to the point where it looks like my black underwear is bleached, what gives?

You and your bleachy briefs are not alone. First thing you should know is that bleaching your underwear doesn’t actually mean that anything particularly harmful is going on up in your cooch. Do you remember year eight science? Basically what’s happening is that your vaginal excretions are a little more on the acidic end of the pH scale, which ranges from 1 (acidic) to 14 (alkaline).

Now I’m not saying that your vagina literally spits acid, but thanks to your natural flora, the normal vaginal pH range falls anywhere between 3.5 and 4.5. In actuality, the real problem is if your vagina starts getting more alkaline — so you WANT to be an acidic bish. And if it’s an issue for your undies, either pop on a liner or, well, lean in to the tie-dyed look.

DM DOCTOR: What’s The Real Deal With Discharge?

acid baby

Does having discharge mean I have an STI?

No, having discharge doesn’t automatically mean you definitely have a sexually transmitted infection — BUT it could be a symptom of one. It comes down to the discharge itself. If you’re experiencing any odour, itching of the vulva, redness, burning, abdominal pain or bloody discharge in your knickers, it might be wise to get checked up. Any cheesy, gunky, foul-smelling, yellow or even green goop? Get it seen to.

For example, if you have cloudy or yellow discharge, it could conceivably be a symptom of gonorrhoea. In actuality though, a lot of the main culprits for dodgy discharge are bacterial or yeast infections like thrush, which are dealt with by medication — but if something changes it’s best to go pee in a cup anyway just to clear your mind.

DM DOCTOR: What’s The Real Deal With Discharge?

you’re probs good though

Can I use a tampon to stop discharge? If so, can it get infected if it’s stopping it from coming out?

First things first: tampons should be inserted only when you’re menstruating (or have a cheeky nosebleed, if you’re a fan of Amanda Bynes‘ classic film, She’s The Man). I know, the urge to plug up the ol’ discharge dispenser can be tempting if you’ve got the floodgates open, but you should resist.

Not only are you at higher risk of a bacterial infection, but you may flat out forget you’ve even got a tampon in – it ain’t your period, so it can slip your mind. If you’re REALLY self conscious, your best bet is to instead use some comfy panty liners to protect your knickers. It’s far more sanitary and you’ll barely feel like you’ve got anything on at all.

DM DOCTOR: What’s The Real Deal With Discharge?

nifty little suckers — but not for discharge

A few days before my period, I get discharge which looks like clear jelly. It all sticks together and can get it in one wipe. Is this normal?

Not only is this totally normal, but it’s super convenient because you’re right: a lot of the time it’s all one big gloop. Clean-up is a treat! You know how kids are all about making slime these days? Congrats, you’re a manufacturing slime factory of your own. And that’s a good thing.

But in all seriousness, why does it happen? It’s simple: you’re ovulating. If it’s a bit like mucous or egg whites, and you can stretch it with your hands (c’mon, you’re probably curious enough to do it if you’ve just stumbled upon a glob of unexpected fairy jelly), then it’s probably because your cervical mucous is prepping the place for a lil’ baby.

jelly resembling discharge

gloop

Ultimately, you know your body better than anyone. If you’re concerned about your discharge, you absolutely have the right to go to your doctor and check in, even if changes are small or you don’t seem to exhibit any other symptoms outside of some goop.

But the most important thing is to make sure you’re getting regular cervical screening tests (especially if you’re sexually active). Your health is more important than a bit of squeamishness, and trust me: your doctor has probably smeared enough paps in their lifetime not to feel awkward about yours.

DM DOCTOR: What’s The Real Deal With Discharge?

really no big deal

Did we answer your question? Got something else boggling your mind? Well, next week’s topic is now live, so you can (completely anonymously) ask all about irregular periods.

Just whack your question in below, and tune in next time for DM Doctor.

Disclaimer: the questions will not be answered by a physician, but one has been consulted for accuracy. If your period questions were not answered in our first few rounds with the DM Doctor, head over to Ask Gemmah.