Why do I always have vaginal discharge all the time. I’m only 15.and whenever I go to the toilet my knickers are always soaking wet, please help me, because I’m worried about it. It has a bit of an odour too.
Thanks for your question. I’m sure a lot of other people might worry about this so thank you for asking it.
I’m not a medic, so I can’t tell you exactly what is going on in your pants or where the fluid is coming from. So the first bit of advice is that maybe you should see somebody who is a medic and ask them – especially if your discharge has changed recently, if it’s not coming from your vagina, or if you notice any other symptoms. However I also think that a bit more information about vaginal fluids might be useful to you.
Vaginal Discharge is Normal
It’s completely normal to have fluid coming from the vagina (discharge). The amount of fluid involved varies a lot from person to person — so some people produce a lot of fluid and others less (there is a big variation in this). Also the consistency of the fluid varies a lot too. For some people it’s thin and watery, in others it’s a little thicker and sticky, and in others it can be a bit chunky.
A lot of people find that the nature of the fluid changes during their menstrual cycle too, so they might notice all of those kinds of fluids. Some people find that they can predict where they are in their menstrual cycle by noticing the changes to their fluids. You can read more about method of contraception here. You are welcome!
Some people find that their fluids have a bit of a smell and others not. The studies that have looked into this have disagreed as to how smelly healthy vaginal fluid can be and are a bit iffy when they come to defining what kind of smell is ‘unpleasant’. Some people have strong feelings about how their vaginal fluids smell and others don’t have any strong feelings at all. You say your fluids have a bit of an odour, but all healthy vaginal fluids have an odour. If you think about it, everything has an odour right?
What is Vaginal Discharge?
But what is vaginal discharge? Well according to this article “normal vaginal discharge is a combination of cervical secretions and uterine, follicular, and peritoneal fluid, and is a mixture of transudate through the mucous membranes, secretions from glandular structures, bacteria, bacterial products, and desquamated epithelial cells.” Well that clears that up right?
The Bish translation of this is that, it’s fluid that comes from different parts of the body that travels through the walls of the vagina and from the cervix. It helps to keep the vagina clean by flushing out skin cells but also to prevent harmful germs from growing. This is because the fluid has a low pH level (ie it is a bit acidic) and also has helpful molecules to fight germs – antimicrobial polypeptides, innit?
So this healthy vaginal discharge is actually super useful and important. It contains lots of different kinds of fluids and has a very very important role. It’s doing a lot, so maybe it’s okay that there’s a lot of it and has a bit of an odour?
We Don’t Know Enough About It
There is a lot of bad sex education about vaginal discharge, but there is also very little good quality medical research in this area. “In informal conversations with our physician colleagues, we encountered similar disagreement. Rules for determining whether discharge looked “abnormal” varied from person to person and seemed to be based more on personal experience than on textbook learning.” And as this article continues to point out, this means that many people are confused about their vaginal discharge.
For example, because a lot of people think that any sign of discharge means they are ‘unclean’ they try to clean themselves too thoroughly. This can increase their vagina’s pH level and wash away some of the helpful molecules that help to prevent infections in the vagina — this can lead to infections in the vagina. So if you do want to keep clean down there, try to just clean the outside of the vulva, rather than inside the vagina.
Signs of less healthy discharge could be signs of one of these kinds of infections (known as bacterial vaginosis). Or it could be a sign of an STI. Less healthy discharge would be more yellowy and thicker. It might have quite strong smell (which is more than “a bit of an odour”), which might smell a bit fishy or bready. If you also have itching and other symptoms.
So I think that this is a conversation that you could have with a medic. You can go to your GP or your local young person’s sexual health service (you don’t have to tell a parent or carer but you can if you like, they won’t tell anyone without your permission) and ask them about it. At a sexual health service they spend all day looking at people’s bits – it’s what they do. Here’s more about what it’s like to go to a service.
They will be able to work out, with you, how happy your vagina is. Maybe they will also be able to help you feel happier about your vagina and help you deal with the amount of fluid you produce. For example you might want to think about using a thin panty liner in your knickers. Hopefully finding out a bit more (of what we know) about healthy discharge has helped you though!
© Justin Hancock, 2018