The overall health of your vagina is important regardless of your level of sexual activity. However, many people do not think about their genitals aside from specific reproductive or sexual health concerns. This sheet provides information everyone (regardless of sexual activity) should have about ensuring vaginal health.
A healthy vagina is rich with small, beneficial bacteria called lactobacilli. These bacteria help prevent other organisms from infecting the vagina and assist in maintaining the vagina’s normal, mildly-acidic, environment. When the balance is maintained, the vagina will usually have a mild, slightly pungent or earthy odor (not unpleasant), and there will be occasional small amounts of clear-to-white discharge that may look yellow when it dries on underpants. Around the time
of ovulation, usually about two weeks after the first day of a menstrual period, there is often a noticeable increase in discharge for a few days, and the discharge (comprised of cervical mucous) may be very “stretchy” and copious.
Unhealthy vaginal discharge may cause an unpleasant odor, burning, itching, or irritation of the vulva or vagina. There are many causes, and a specific diagnosis is needed for appropriate treatment. If your discharge is associated with severe abdominal pain, pain with urination, back pain, or a fever, seek immediate medical care.