A lot of interesting things can happen down below. Your vagina is responsible for everything from lubrication to stimulation to sensation and conception! With so many secretions happening, it’s sometimes hard to know when it’s just everyday functionality and when it’s time to see a professional. That said, here is a quick and easy list to determine when Doc needs to take a look!
If you’re not currently in an age frame conducive to reproducing, (pre-puberty or post-menopause), any new or unique discharge should be reason for getting checked out further. Once seen, your discharge can be evaluated to rule out any abnormalities, infections or similar.
Reproducing. If you do happen to be “with child(ren), you’ll notice all sorts of secretions from ovulation to thicker cervical mucus and other vaginal fluids throughout pregnancy. While all of this is normal for the 9 month process, a new or unusual-for-you discharge is best to have looked at.
Sexually Active. With intimacy also comes the chance of infection. Naturally, we want to trust our partners have a clean bill of health before we take them to bed, however, the only way to tell if you or your sexual partner has an STD is to be tested. Keeping in mind that even if your tests come back negative, the best way to keep them that way is to continue to have protected sex and to get checked regularly. Some infections can remain dormant at the time of testing, giving a false reading if you will. Herpes, for example, is transmissible even when a person isn't having an outbreak. One symptom of an STD or STI is a change in vaginal discharge. If you find the consistency, texture or odor is off, it is best to have your pelvic health checked.
Pelvic Pain. Any itching or burning on the vulva is suspect and best to have examined. The vulva consists of the outer part of the female genitals which includes the opening of the vagina (sometimes called the vestibule), the labia majora (outer lips), the labia minora (inner lips), and the clitoris. Wearing comfortable underwear that do not chafe and also keep you dry is ideal for deterring the growth of bacteria.
As for at-home care and preventative measures, consider wearing moisture-wicking panties, practicing safe sex, avoiding irritating soaps or detergents and lotion, and keeping your eye out for any changes in your vaginal secretions.