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White goo in my pants: is that normal?

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Anonymous asks:

I always get a sticky white goo in my pants, when I wipe it off it sometimes looks a bit yellow. It doesn't itch, smell or I don't suffer from any pain with it. What do you think it is, and who do you think I should see about it?

Heather Corinna replies:

What it most likely is is just normal vaginal discharge.

We have a good piece which outlines what is or is not normal here -- Honorably Discharged: A Guide to Vaginal Secretions -- but I'm happy to put it into more context for you here.

Basically, throughout most or all of your fertility cycle -- from day one of your period through the time until your next period agains, every single cycle -- you've got different types of vaginal discharges and cervical mucus. Some of that varies depending on where you're at in your cycle. Around ovulation, for instance, that mucus and discharges tend to be very thin, clear and fluid, whereas towards the end of your cycle, they tend to be thicker, whiter or yellower and more chalky: sometimes so thick, in fact, that it won't even move down your vagina to your pants to see. Too, things like becoming sexually aroused creates a different type of vaginal fluid. You also have sweat mixed in all that sometimes, and, of course, menses (your period), which also can vary during your period, as you've probably noticed.

If a person is sexually active, and contracts a sexually transmitted infection, some STIs, too, may produce certain discharges or changes in discharge. Even when you're not sexually active, you might wind up with a bacetrial or yeast infection now and then -- just due to imbalances in your body and vagina - and those can cause changes in discharges.

Normal discharges are just that: normal. They're part of your fertility cycle, and also an important part of how your vagina keeps itself clean and in good health (that's why it's never a good idea to try and clean out inside the vagina or douche: your vag has already got you covered there, and it does a way better job than you can in keeping clean). And all in all, if you a) haven't been sexually active and have no reason to suspect you have an STI (or have been, but have recently been tested and know you're all clear), and b) aren't seeing any funky colors -- like greenish or grayish discharge, weird textures -- like a cottage cheesy discharge -- aren't having any sort of itching or burning, and aren't finding your discharge suddenly smells different than it ever has, there's no reason to worry that your discharges aren't normal.

And if they are plain old healthy discharges, there's no reason to do anything about them: you just let them be.

If in doubt, by all means, go and see your general doctor, gynecologist or sexual health clinic: whomever you prefer to see for your reproductive healthcare. If you've started menstruating, then it's time to consider getting that health care once a year anyway, just for preventative health: young adult and adult women should ideally have a gynecological exam once a year, and sexually active women should have a yearly STI screen, at a minimum, as part of that.

Here are a couple of extra pieces, besides the one I already tossed your way above, to fill you in a little more on what the what is down there and how to be sure you're in good sexual health:

written 25 Jul 2007 . updated 27 Jan 2014

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