What’s up with vaginal discharge before/after my period?

What’s up with vaginal discharge before/after my period?

Our expert: Margaret Sikowitz

Margaret Sikowitz graduated from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, one of the nation’s oldest accredited colleges granting masters degrees in Chinese Medicine. She practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine in New York City.

What’s the deal with vaginal discharge?

Girls and women are often mystified by what they see on their panties. Aren’t you glad to read that? Now you know that it’s not just you wondering what that crusty stuff is.  And while we’re at it, yes, it’s usually totally normal.

That white-ish, crusty stuff you see and feel, sometimes when you’re wiping or getting undressed is a sign that change is around the corner. What kind of change?  Things like growth of breasts, more visible body hair, and the start of your period, though the period could still be a year or two away.

When the crusty stuff starts showing up it means that your insides, including your ovaries (walnut sized organs in your lower belly) are beginning your period. Again, that could be a year or two away, so don’t worry, it’s normal.

Any part of your body that is exposed to the outside, like your nose, eyes, and yes, your vagina, have all these smart, protective ways to keep themselves healthy.  Tears, mucus, and vaginal discharge are some of those ways.  Obviously they are not all caused by the same thing. Hormones are responsible for vaginal discharge, they also make your breasts grow and hair start appearing in new places.

If you’re already having your period, you’ll see lots of different kinds of vaginal discharge throughout the month.

The white stuff you see before or after your period is an indication of normal hormonal shifts. In fact, the pasty discharge you see a day or so before your period is a great reminder to have all the tampons and pads you need to get ready, since it’s a sign that your period is on its way. And while we’re sharing, you should also know that discharge can resemble rubber cement, egg whites, or lotion, and all are signs that you’re body is doing just what it is supposed to do.

Every so often, vaginal discharge can be problematic, and if you notice that your vagina is very itchy or you smell a strong odor coming from your underpants, definitely contact your health care provider.  This may be an indication that something is out of whack.  Don’t worry, it’s fixable, but definitely worth checking out.

All of these things you’ve wondered about are part of a completely natural process. You can support them best by eating well (minimize your processed foods and sugar), exercising and getting enough sleep.

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Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.