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You’ve got things on your mind. Private things. While your hormones are having a wild party inside your bod, your brain is racing with questions about what is really what’s going on down below. So where do you find decent answers about those puzzling body bafflers? Right here!
GL editors took your letters, to the experts. Keep reading for the answers to your most intimate inquiries.
Can you clue me in? Your vagina becomes an effective self-cleaning machine during puberty, and stays that way. That’s why, around 11 or 12, you notice more discharge. What is it? Your privates are simply expelling a mixture of mucus, bacteria and used-up vaginal cells to keep things normal, explains Dr. Charles Wibbelsman, author of The Teenage Body Book. “It’s normal to have a dear, whitish, non-irritating discharge,” he says. So … you get a clean bill of health.
Still, according to stats from the Vagisil Women’s Health Center, 16 percent of chicas don’t know some discharge is normal. To get even more in depth, if you’ve already started menstruating, the stuff is usually kinda clear during the first half of your cycle (those first 13 or so days after you start bleeding). Around days 14 and 15, the vaginal liquid gets whiter, kind of like skim milk, when your ovary releases an egg. That’s ovulation, which prepares your body to have a baby which, of course, you’re not ready for yet. If you don’t have your period yet, the discharge is similar–you just won’t see quite as much of it. You’ve asked an amazingly important question, because if you notice discharge changes, that’s your sign that something could be a teensy bit off. If the liquid is yellowish, gray-white or fishy-smelling, you could have a bacterial infection. If you have an odorless, thicker-than-usual, cottage cheese-like discharge, you might have a yeast infection (on to the next question). Either way, your doctor can give you a prescription that will bring things back to normal.
I know you treat it with a cream or pill. Won’t it go away if you just leave it be? This kind of yeast has nothing to do with baking bread. Sorry, bad joke. Yeast are organisms that live naturally in the vagina. When too many take over, a girl winds up with an infection. This can happen when you take antibiotics or wear wet clothing too long or for no reason at all. Half of all girls will have had a yeast infection by age 25, and 75 percent of all women will have at least one daring their lifetimes.
So these infections are quite common. It’s not serious but, without medication, could be a problem for weeks. Yeast infections aren’t hard to detect. Your vagina gets real itchy, you’ll notice a thick, white discharge, and it might burn when you pee. But it’s not a good idea to run out and buy over-the-counter yeast infection medicine if you’ve never had one before, explains Dr. Cathryn Tobin, a pediatrician in Ontario. You could have a different infection, such as bacterial vaginosis (the most common vaginal infection). Only a doctor can give you the right diagnosis–and the right medicine.
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