they may see a white discharge from their vagina before the start of periods or even in between cycles.
Vaginal Discharge is a natural process and normal for all girls to have some vaginal discharge and should not be something to be worried about unless the symptoms are more severe.
What is Vaginal Discharge?
Normal vaginal discharge is a fluid that moistens the vagina. The discharge keeps the vagina from drying out and can also help protect against bacteria like yeast and fungal infections. The fluid may come out from the vagina and you might see this on the toilet paper when you wipe or on your underwear. The amount of discharge may relate to your menstrual cycle. It usually increases 2 weeks before menstruation.
Some girls experience a small to moderate amount of clear or white vaginal discharge that starts about 6-12 months before their first period, which is a normal response to growing amounts of the hormone estrogen in the body.
Normal vaginal discharge could be:
- Somewhat thin, sticky, and elastic
- Thick and gooey
- Clear, white, or off-white in colour
- No unpleasant odour
- Not itchy or irritating to the skin
The amount, colour and thickness of this discharge are different for each woman. For some girls, it’s normal to have a lot of vaginal discharge. They may even need to wear a pantiliner to keep their underwear dry. Other girls may not have much vaginal discharge at all.
Symptoms of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
A vaginal discharge alone does not mean there is an infection. But if you are also having any of these other signs, you should consult a doctor:
- a change in odour, especially an unpleasant odour
- a change in colour, especially greenish, greyish, or anything looking like pus
- a change in texture
- may appear like curdy white discharge
- vaginal itching, burning, swelling, or redness
- vaginal bleeding or spotting that is not a menstrual period
- blisters, bumps or sores in your genital area
- painful urination
Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge:
Infections are the most common cause of unusual vaginal discharge. These infections include:
- Fungal infections
- Bacterial infections, such as bacterial vaginosis and bacterial vaginitis
- STDs such as gonorrhoea
If you think your vaginal discharge has changed, it is better to visit a doctor for advice. This is especially important if you’ve had unprotected sex because it could be a sign of an STD. Most causes of vaginal discharge can be treated. Different types of vaginal infections need different kinds of treatment. Some vaginal infections require a specific antibacterial medicine, available only by prescription. Others are not as serious as sexually transmitted infections but need to be treated anyway.
Adolescent girls should not worry about vaginal discharge as it is a normal body function. However, in case any changes in the discharge are observed, it is important to consult a doctor so that the causes can be identified and treated.
Special Thanks to Dr. Surekha Tayade (MD, DNB, MNAMS, FICOG, PhD, Professor, OBGY, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, DMIMS, DU, Wardha) for expert advice.