Exactly what that is might be as benign as your monthly cycle, having recently given birth, or undergoing some form of hormonal therapy.
"Vaginal discharge and cervical mucous sort of act like the oil between gears in a machine, keeping the vagina working properly, the normal pH balance of bacteria in a good place, and helping lubricate during intercourse," explains Michelle Tham Metz, M.D., an ob-gyn at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Basically, vaginal discharge keeps your vagina happy and healthy.
However, if you suddenly notice a lot more vaginal discharge in your underwear, it's a sign that something might be going on down there. Exactly what that is might be as benign as your monthly cycle, having recently given birth, or undergoing some form of hormonal therapy, Metz says. Or it could be more problematic—for example, vaginal and yeast infections can lead to a sudden uptick in vaginal discharge. Generally, thick, white vaginal discharge with a cottage-cheese-like texture or fishy smell is a sign that you want to visit your gyno just to be safe.
To help prevent vaginal and yeast infections, Metz recommends "absolutely no douching or placing antibacterial soaps in the vagina." Remember, a happy vagina depends on plenty of healthy bacteria in the vagina, and flushing out or killing that bacteria can allow bacterial intruders to make their way in. Taking a daily probiotic can also help to keep those healthy bacteria levels up. "Maintaining a well-balanced diet and showering immediately after sex and that sweaty spin class can also help," she says.
In this video, Metz shares more need-to-know information about vaginal discharge, and what it can tell you about your health. Hit play for a happy and healthy vagina.