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What is the white stuff in your underwear? Cervical Mucus/Discharge Edition

When I was 12 years old I googled the exact phrase “what is the white stuff in my underwear”. It was the year 2008 and I found nothing useful online about it. Despite having an open family, I was too embarrassed to ask my mom or older sister about it. I didn’t learn about it the year prior in my 5th grade sex-ed class and none of my friends were talking about it. I then decided it was probably normal, and tried not to think about it.

The next time I openly talked about it again was my freshman year of college when a friend of mine said “oh yeah we all had that time in middle school where we looked at each other and said ‘you’re getting that white stuff too'. I may have had that experience with my friends during my youth, but I have no memory of it. I remember just being utterly clueless about my body and trying to forget I even had a female reproductive system.

I didn’t find the true answer until I was 24 and studying the cycle. I had gone through college, and a master’s program, and still, nothing. Mind you, I wasn’t a biology major, but that shows how irrelevant the female body is to our society. This is a basic function and it's rare someone learns that. When I started studying the cycle through advanced courses and certifications I finally understood.

I love that some women, girls, and menstruators have their friends to talk to about these things. It's important that we have a sisterhood and community to be vulnerable with. There's an issue here though, a lot of us don’t have enough or the correct information about our bodies. It’s great that we can confide in one another and say ‘yeah that happens to me too,' but that’s where the conversation typically ends. It’s time the knowledge of our menstrual cycle is made mainstream.

I post a lot about cervical mucus on my Instragram. Many of the comments I get break my heart because I can see how many people feel scared, clueless, and uncomfortable with this part of their body. Many comments are people who thought they had cervical cancer and were dying, some thought it was yeast infection for many years, and others even though they were morphing into a man or someone with a penis because they believed the cervical mucus was a wet dream. It's the year 2022 and people are still unaware of what this basic, healthy function of the body is.

It’s time to change that.

Let's get into it: The basics of Cervical Mucus

Cervical mucus is part of your menstrual cycle. You may have heard it called discharge or vaginal discharge. In my work, I refer to it as cervical mucus (CM). Discharge works too, but the term vaginal discharge is misleading.

The mucus (the white/wet stuff) is coming from your cervix. The cervix is in-between your uterus and vaginal canal.

During your menstrual cycle, you have different hormones that fluctuate at different times throughout the month. These hormones tell your cervix to produce different types of mucus. That's why you see changes throughout the month.

Right after your period ends you might not notice anything in your underwear. Then you might see a change to a lotion-like, more wet substance or feeling.

When you ovulate your cervical mucus can be the texture of egg whites. You can stretch it, it could be clear, slippery, and feel like lube.

After you ovulate you might see very thick cervical mucus, or feel/see nothing at all in your underwear or when you wipe.

What's the point of all of this?

Ovulatory cervical mucus helps sperm get to the egg so you can become pregnant.

Non-ovulatory cervical mucus protects the uterus by creating a thick barrier so that nothing can get up to the uterus, including sperm & pathogens.

There is nothing wrong, weird, immoral, or bad with having cervical mucus. It doesn’t come from being sexually active, that's arousal fluid comes from the vulva area when you are turned on. You can get cervical mucus before you get your first period, and it's perfectly normal and healthy.

See a medical professional if you ever notice these changes in your CM:

  • If you all of a sudden notice a strange smell that is different than it usually is

  • If the color of it changes and is not white, gray, or white-ish - yellow-ish

  • If there is lots of blood (a small amount of blood is considered normal)

  • If something feels off to you

The more we know about our bodies, the more comfortable we can feel. I imagine a future where all people are equipped with this knowledge, are supported, feel safe, and are at peace with their bodies. I don’t want anyone to think they are dying when they are actually very healthy. I don’t want anyone to be scared they are morphing into different sex without their consent just because they are ovulating, but think it's a male wet dream.

We deserve to know about our bodies. I think back to my youth and wonder how much more comfortable I would have been if I knew this. I am reconnecting with my cycle in my adulthood and it's been very healing to finally get my questions answered. It’s my goal to help you understand your body as well.

*This post is intended for educational purposes only and is not to be used for medical advice, please see a medical professional if you have any questions or concerns*

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