Between six months and a year before girls start their periods, they may notice that there is white stuff coming out of the vagina. This is known as vaginal discharge and is a normal response to the hormonal changes at puberty, which commonly occurs in girls aged 11-14 year old. Vagina discharge helps keep the vagina healthy and will continue even after a girl gets her first period. The discharge will be produced regularly until women hit the menopause at age 45-55, when they don’t make as much.
Changes in discharge could signify a vaginal infection. These infections can occur in both females who are sexually active and those who are not. If it does happen to you, don’t worry, as most women will experience a vaginal infection at some point in their life.
What Is the White Stuff Coming Out of Vagina?
Following puberty, most girls will start to see a white or yellow-colored stain in their underwear. This is vaginal discharge, a fluid that cleans and moistens the vagina. Discharge that smells slightly salty or has no smell at all, is cloudy-white or clear-colored, and dries white or yellow on underwear is completely normal. The discharge can be gooey and thick, or thin and sticky.
There may be variations in your vaginal discharge depending on what stage of your menstrual cycle you are at. It will usually become slightly ‘stringy’, like egg-white, and the flow will increase mid-way through your cycle when you are ovulating (an egg is released from the ovary and travels into the fallopian tube).
White Stuff Coming Out of Vagina: What to Do with It?
If your discharge is bothering you, you can buy slim panty liners to protect your underwear. Occasionally, the moisture from the vaginal discharge can cause skin irritation. You can prevent this by wearing loose cotton underwear, and avoiding tight-fitting skirts and jeans, especially in hot weather. Make sure you take a bath or shower every day, and wash your external genitals using mild soap, rinsing and drying them afterwards. Avoid scented panty liners or fragranced products for your intimate area as these can irritate you.
If you notice any abnormal changes in your vaginal discharge, this could indicate an infection, so make an appointment to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
It’s normal to be confused and here’s what one girl says:
“I’m a 14 year old. Vagina discharge is happening everyday – it’s really irritating. The discharge is white-colored, but not chunky. There are loads of girls with this condition, where there is white stuff coming out of the vagina so there has to be a reason for it. I don’t think that it’s a yeast infection unless you’ve got itching as well. My mom told me that you can get discharge both before and after your period, but I’ve had it continuously for about two years.”
When Should I Worry About Vaginal Discharge?
The majority of women will occasionally see changes in discharge texture, color and smell. However, if you notice any of the following in your vaginal discharge, it may be worth seeing a healthcare professional:
A fishy smell
Thick white and clumpy discharge, like cottage cheese
Green-colored discharge with an unpleasant smell
You should also alert your doctor if changes in your vaginal discharge are accompanied by:
Pain whilst having sex
Genital sores or ulcers
If the changes occur after you have had unprotected intercourse, or sex with a new partner, this may also be cause for concern.
Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Bacterial vaginosis. This is a common condition, where the discharge can appear thin, has a foul odor, and may be grey, yellow or white in color.
Yeast infections. These can produce discharge with a cottage cheese-like consistency. You may also feel itching, swelling and pain in the genital area.
Gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection that is easily caught and if left untreated, may result in infertility. Some women with gonorrhea have no symptoms at all, but others may see a green-yellow discharge, pain during sex, and abdominal discomfort.
Thrush. This is a non-sexually transmitted fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans. Patients with thrush may see a thick white stuff coming out of the vagina, although the main symptom is genital itching.
Trichomoniasis. Women with trichomoniasis may notice a frothy yellow-green or thin discharge that has a marked odor. The external genitalia are often itchy and sore, and you may find that it hurts to urinate. Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection.
Forgotten tampons. A tampon left in at the end of a period can result in unusual vaginal discharge with a foul odor. If you do discover an old tampon, remove it straight away.
If you think that you may have an infection, make an appointment with a healthcare professional. They can perform tests to diagnose the infection, and prescribe any antibiotics you may need. Wash your external genitalia regularly, but don’t try and flush out or ‘douche’ your vagina, as this can upset the natural vaginal bacteria and lead to irritation. Remember to always use protection during sex, and if you do have an infection, inform your partner, so they can be tested and treated too.