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Dealing with Discharge (Hint: Try Pantyliners)

Is it just us, or was discharge a majorly overlooked topic in our pre-teen period talk and life orientation? No wonder pantyliners are a mystery to so many of us... 

Since it’s rarely spoken about, it’s pretty likely that at some stage of your life, you’ve been concerned about the consistency, colour and frequency of your vaginal discharge (or the fact that it’s ruined countless pairs of your favourite underwear!). We’re here to tell you it’s a completely normal part of having a vagina, and it can actually give us important insights into our menstrual cycles.

What is discharge?

Discharge is a fluid that's produced by glands at the entrance to your womb along with normal secretions naturally found on the walls of your vagina... We know, it doesn't sound particularly pleasant. However, this fluid keeps your vagina clean, moist and most importantly, protects you against infection. So while it may not sound the most glamorous, it's pretty important!

Understanding discharge:

from clear and sticky to white or brown You’ll most likely experience white discharge leading up to the days when you ovulate. Why? As if our vaginas weren’t magical enough, they also tell us (through our discharge) when we’re fertile, which is super helpful if you want to conceive. Ovulation may cause slight pain and discomfort (sharper pains are known as Mittelschmerz), breakthrough bleeding or a clear, stretchy discharge. It’s your own built-in fertility tracker. After ovulation, discharge changes again, sometimes turning brown just before your period arrives. This is a mixture of oxidised blood and cervical fluid, and nothing to worry about if it’s a common occurrence for you. Remember: healthy discharge is mild-smelling and can range from a clear to white, to brown, or even light yellow in colour.

So, should I be wearing a sanitary pad all the time?

Not exactly. However, if you’ve ever been caught with a sudden heavy flow while wearing just a pantyliner, and you didn’t immediately break into a cold sweat of panic, you are a brave and fearless woman, and we’d like to shake your hand.

If you’re not sure why facing a heavy period flow with just a pantyliner as your only line of defence is a very brave (and very bad) idea, you, like many other people, are probably confused by the distinction between menstrual pads and pantyliners. We get it. It is confusing. So what's the difference? Pantyliners are smaller, thinner pads, but their absorbency and purpose is quite different to the type of sanitary towel you want to be wearing on the second day of your period. Sanitary towels (which are larger, have wings, and higher absorbency) are specially designed for days when you’re menstruating. Pantyliners, on the other hand, are most widely used to cover you (and your panties) against daily discharge. They're often come in boxes of 30, which should give you enough for daily use to keep you feeling fresh and help you track any changes to your discharge. 

Spotting before your period? Sorted.

Discharge, breakthrough bleeding, spotting, and implantation bleeding - the uses are endless! Pantyliners are great for those very light days at the start and end of your period, when you’re spotting or have withdrawal bleeding, and for any other kind of fluids you may experience throughout the month — that includes cervical fluid or discharge, post-sex discharge and even urine from very light incontinence.

In essence, the pantyliner is your new best friend!

Periods FAQs

Can I have sex when I'm on my period?

Yes you can. In rare instances, you can still get pregnant. You should also bear in mind that you can still catch a sexually transmitted disease when on your period

Will I smell when I’m on my period?

You might notice a slight odour when you're on your period. Tampons can help with this because they're worn inside your body. If you prefer to use pads, make sure to change them regularly if you notice a strong odour.

What do I do if my period has stained my clothes?

First off, don't panic, it happens to all of us at some point in our lives! The key is to treat the stain as soon as possible with cold water. Hot water causes the stain to heat and seep deeper into the fabric, so cold water is absolutely key! Hold the stained item taut under running cold water and you may find this gets all of the blood out. If not, give the stain a rub with some soap or laundry detergent and put it in the washing machine. Remember, some stains can be really stubborn so don't give up if it doesn't work straight away, they may just need another wash. Also, if you're pushed for time and can't wash your items straight away, pop them in cold water to soak - it'll make it much easier to deal with the stain later if it hasn't had the opportunity to dry!

How will the contraceptive pill affect my periods?

Some brands of contraceptive pills can reduce your flow or shorten the length of your period. Your doctor or nurse will discuss this with you during your consultation.

My periods are really heavy, which products should I use?

You've got lots of options available. Lil-Lets Non-Applicator Ultra Tampons have the highest absorbency in the UK and are great for extremely heavy periods. If you prefer to use an applicator tampon, our super plus extra applicator tampons are a really good choice too.

What can I do to relieve my period pain?

Although you may not feel like doing it at the time, stretching or gentle exercise will ease this discomfort. Healthy eating is also known to help relieve any period pain. Alternatively, treat yourself to a relaxing bath or cuddle up on the sofa with a hot water bottle.

If none of these help, your local pharmacy can give you guidance on suitable pain relief.

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