demystifying discharge
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health + wellness

demystifying discharge


Welcome to our first ever #WellnessWednesday! Also known as: things you never learned in health class and are too scared to google. This week, we're talking about discharge ✨

If you have a vulva, chances are you've experienced discharge. Discharge can come in varying colors and smells depending on what is causing it. Some of it is perfectly normal, and some may require a trip to the doctor. We're here to break down one of the most mysterious parts of being a vulva owner, because you deserve to understand your body!

Let's talk about color (and what each one means)

  • White / Clear: this discharge signals a healthy pH balance and may appear during or around ovulation.
  • Green / Yellow: This discharge is a common sign of an STI and should be checked out by a doctor!
  • Red / Brown / Pink: This discharge means there is blood in the vaginal canal either from menstruation or a rowdy round in the bedroom. It should clear up in a few days, if not it may be time to give your doctor a call. 
  • Grey: This color discharge is a common sign of bacterial vaginosis, otherwise known as BV. You should get this checked out by a doctor!

What about smell?
Say it with me class: vaginal discharge having a smell is ✨ normal ✨ and so are subtle changes with it. Vaginal discharge can change smell depending on your overall vaginal health, emotional state, and phase of your cycle. Sometimes the smell can indicate an infection that needs to be seen by a doctor, but most of the time it's just a part of life. Here's a guide to the most common smells associated with discharge: 

  • Tangy / Fermented: This is the sign of balanced pH levels and is most common at the beginning of your cycle. The pH of a healthy vagina is slightly acidic (between 3.8 and 4.5), so it's normal to have a tangy smell. 
  • Sweet: This is also normal! It has to do with the bacteria in your vagina. 
  • Coppery (like a penny): This signals blood in the vaginal canal and usually clears up in a day or two. According to Healthline, if your vagina has had contact with semen, this may change the pH level and cause a metallic smell as well. If this persists for more than a few days, give your doctor a call. 
  • Chemical (like ammonia): This can signal dehydration, so drink up!
  • Skunk-like / Body odor: This usually happens when you're stressed. Your body has sweat glands in your groin (called apocrine glands) that can become more active when you are stressed. Time for a breather!
  • Fishy: This often signals bacterial vaginosis or an STI. If you are experiencing this, it's time to call the doctor. 

Have more questions? Let us know in the comments! 

The Ultimate Color Guide to Vaginal Discharge by Sarah Aswell
Molasses to Pennies: All the Smells a Healthy Vagina Can Be by Ginger Wojcik


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