Stop getting me confused with everything else down there
The number-one mistake women make in the ob-gyn office: They call everything the vagina. “I’m always shocked at how women are so confused about their anatomy,” says Alyssa Dweck, MD, assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and gynecologist in Westchester County, New York. “People are all-encompassing about the word ‘vagina.’ They think that means everything down there, but each part is different.” Here’s the breakdown: Your vagina is the inner muscular tube that connects the cervix of the uterus to the vulva. The vulva is everything that you see on the outside, including the labia majora and labia minora (outer and inner “lips”), the clitoris (the sensitive pleasure center at the top tip of your labia), and the urethra (where you urinate). Make sure you know the 15 everyday habits that can mess with your vaginal health.
Your discharge isn’t that weird
Seems excessive? Don’t feel gross. There’s no “normal” amount of discharge—it may fluctuate depending on your menstrual cycle. Mid-cycle, secretion increases and is generally clear and stretchy (think egg whites). “This facilitates sperm motility into the vagina, cervix, and uterus so fertilization can occur. It lets you know it’s a fertile time of the month,” says Dr. Dweck. Other times of the month, discharge may be thicker and whiter.
Signs you should worry about: Clumpy discharge, like cottage cheese, could signal a yeast infection. Grey discharge with a fish-like odor may indicate bacterial vaginosis (BV), an overgrowth of bacteria. Heavy secretion that is grey, yellow, or green could be a side effect of gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In these cases, see your doctor. Don’t miss the 9 secrets your vaginal discharge is trying to tell you.