Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Vaginal Discharge: What Teens Should Know

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In my other life, as the manager of the We're Talking Teen Health web site, the PAMF doctors and I answer a lot of questions about vaginal discharge, so here are some facts I think all teen girls (and maybe even boys) should know!

First, and most importantly,
vaginal discharge is normal and varies during your menstrual cycle. For example, before ovulation (the release of the egg), there is A LOT of mucous produced, up to 30X more than after ovulation. It is also more watery and stretchy during that phase of your cycle. You may want to wear panty liners during that time.

Things to Know

A normal vaginal discharge is about a teaspoon (4 ML) a day and can be white or transparent, thick to thin, and odorless. This is formed by the normal bacteria and fluids the vaginal cells put off. The discharge can be more noticeable at different times of the month depending on ovulation, menstrual flow, sexual activity and birth control.

It is not uncommon for the normal discharge to be dark, brown or discolored a day or two following the menstrual period - this is just old blood.


To really get in touch with what is normal - pay attention and keep a little calendar for several months, noting what kind of discharge you have every day. Once you know what normal is for you, you will worry a lot less.


The things that you should be worried about include if the discharge has a yellow or green color, is clumpy like cottage cheese, or has a bad odor. If worried, see a doctor.

Different Types of Discharge

Light yellow: For girls who have not started their period yet, having a little yellow or white discharge that dries on their panties every day is perfectly normal!

White: Thick, white discharge is common at the beginning and end of your cycle. Normal white discharge is not accompanied by itching. If itching is present, thick white discharge can indicate a yeast infection.

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Clear and stretchy: This is "fertile" mucous and means you are ovulating. Do not be shy, feel it - if it stretches between your fingers - you are ovulating!

Clear and watery: This occurs at different times of your cycle and can be particularly heavy after exercising.

Dark Yellow or Green: May indicate an infection, especially if thick or clumpy like cottage cheese or has a foul odor.

Brown: May happen right after periods, and is just "cleaning out" your vagina. Old blood looks brown.

Spotting Blood/Brown Discharge: This may occur when you are ovulating/mid-cycle, particularly if someone else you live with happens to be having a period while you are ovulating - the hormones seem to "shake up" other uterus's in the area.

Sometimes early in pregnancy you may have spotting or a brownish discharge at the time your period would normally come. If you have spotting at the time of your normal period rather than your usual amount of flow, and you have had sex without using birth control, you should use a pregnancy test with the first urine of the day.

Orange: This has come up several times recently and I have thought the answer was related to recent yeast infections, deodorized tampons, and more recently, I just say "I have not got a clue," but am open to hearing from any experts out there!

Remember

If you are having ANY of the symptoms below see your health care provider!
  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Discomfort
  • Rash or sores alone or with a vaginal discharge
  • 1
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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