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Ruined Underwear: Another Part of Womanhood

What to do when discharge does you dirty.

Ruined Underwear: Another Part of Womanhood

Ask most people with vaginas and they’ll tell you that their underwear falls into two main categories: fancy and practical. Fancy is for when the undergarments are the outfit—meant to be worn for practically no time at all. Practical is for everyday wear and tear, underwear that won’t upset you when you bleed on it or your discharge burns a hole in it over time. Because that’s a thing. 

Besides blood, other types of vaginal discharge vary in thickness, odor, color, and volume throughout the menstrual cycle. Most vaginal discharge is completely healthy and normal, even if it might ruin your favorite thong, but there are some cases when you should seek medical attention. 

Let’s look at the most common types of vaginal discharge, and why women cycle through so much underwear during their lives. And, bonus, if you’re looking to revamp your underwear assortment, we’ve included some women-owned intimate brands to shop. 

What are the normal types of vaginal discharge?

The primary function of vaginal discharge is to maintain vaginal health by flushing out bacteria and dead cells while also providing lubrication and protection against infections. 

“A lot of my patients come to me wondering if their vaginal odor is normal—it’s important to understand that not all odor indicates a problem. It's common for vaginas to smell a bit tangy or sour, almost like mild fermented foods.”

-Dr. Lloyd, OBGYN & Medical Advisor at O Positiv Health

Normal vaginal discharge can vary in color, consistency and odor throughout the month, and may include the following:

  • Clear or white discharge: This is the most common type of vaginal discharge and is usually odorless or may have a mild odor. It often increases in quantity during ovulation and can be a sign of healthy hormonal fluctuations.
  • Sticky or tacky discharge: Some women may experience discharge that is sticky or tacky in consistency, particularly before or after menstruation. This type of discharge is also healthy and helps to keep the vagina lubricated and moist.
  • Thin and watery discharge: Watery discharge may occur at various times during the menstrual cycle and is typically clear or slightly cloudy. It helps to maintain the pH balance of the vagina and flush out any harmful bacteria.
  • Thick or creamy discharge: Common before or after menstruation and may be white or slightly yellowish in color. It often indicates changes in hormone levels and is considered normal unless accompanied by other symptoms.

When might discharge cause staining or bleaching of underwear?

Spotting or light bleeding between periods, known as breakthrough bleeding, can sometimes occur due to hormonal changes, ovulation, or other factors. This blood may mix with vaginal discharge and stain underwear. When it comes to blood, the best way to treat the stain is with cold water and soap—as soon as possible.

But, as most of us know, it’s not just period blood that can ruin underwear! While the clear and watery discharge seen during ovulation when estrogen levels are high is normal, it is also slightly acidic—which might cause bleaching of underwear fabric. White and creamy discharge can happen at different times in the cycle and often contains a bit of cervical mucus and vaginal cells. During the luteal phase, discharge typically thickens and becomes sticky due to increased amounts of cervical mucus. Any of these discharge types can have a bleaching effect on underwear, which can eventually lead to little holes straight through the fabric. I hope this is as validating for you as it was for us. 

When should you see a doctor about vaginal discharge?

While most changes in vaginal discharge are normal and harmless, some may indicate health concerns that require medical attention. It's essential to pay attention to any persistent or concerning changes in the color, consistency, odor or quantity of vaginal discharge and to seek medical advice if necessary. Consider seeing a doctor if you experience any of the following:

Changes in discharge color

If you notice any yellow or greenish discharge, that can be a red flag for an infection like bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis. These infections raise the pH level of the vagina and its discharge, which can bleach fabric. If anything seems off, it's always best to chat with your doc. 

Unusual odor

While vaginal discharge may have a mild odor, any significant changes in odor, particularly if it is foul-smelling or fishy, may indicate an infection such as bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Itching or irritation

Persistent itching, burning, or irritation in the vaginal area, particularly accompanied by changes in discharge, may indicate a yeast infection or other vaginal infection that requires treatment. Pain or discomfort: If you experience pain or discomfort in the vaginal area, particularly during urination or sexual intercourse, it may indicate an underlying issue such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or other gynecological condition.

Must-Know Woman-Owned Underwear Companies 

Time to replenish your top drawer collection? We've got you. 



Ever looked at the crotch of a pair of underwear and wondered how on earth that tiny piece of fabric was going to cover your vulva? Proud “outie” (a term for vulvas with inner lips longer than the outer lips) owner Gabriella Scaringe could not find undies that with a gusset—the official term for the piece of fabric in the crotch—wide enough to fully and comfortably cover her vulva, so she launched her own brand, Cherri. The gusset on all Cherri underwear is about double the size of regular underwear—even thongs. Cherri also recently launched wide-gusseted bikinis for women wanting to avoid a lip slip at the beach.


Tired of suffering from recurrent UTIs, Alexa Suter created underwear that features a seam-free gusset infused with soothing zinc oxide. Zinc oxide possesses antibacterial and odor-reducing properties to help stop unwanted odor caused by bacteria. Huha’s bras and underwear are available in a number of different colors and styles and go up to size 3XL.

Thistle and Spire

Leave it to women to create lingerie that is as inclusive as it is sexy. If you’re looking for a special bra and underwear set, you’ll be spoiled for choice with Thistle and Spire. Snake-embroidered bodysuits? Bedazzled bustier with matching bikini and garter in rich jewel tones? Thistle and Spire has something spicy for everyone.

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