The Clean Panty Challenge: Let’s Deconstruct White Discharge

A while ago, the Clean Panty Challenge took the internet by storm. Women around the world had posted about what they thought was the symbol of feminine hygiene – a spotless panty. What started as an ill-informed Facebook post by a woman about how she never had “crusted panties,” referring to her stain-free underwear, eventually became a social media frenzied viral topic. Several other women posted pictures of their own “clean” panties as proof of their supposed hygiene.

As women, we all know that the idea of a clean panty (at the crotch) is nothing more than a myth. The human body has the good, the bad, and the ugly. It comes with blood, sweat, and errr… white discharge too. And that’s nothing unusual or embarrassing. In fact, it is definitely unusual if one has a squeaky clean panty. Before we go ahead, let’s get the basics right.

What is white discharge?

White discharge refers to cervical mucus, which is a slimy substance that comes from your vagina. Cervical mucous first makes its appearance when a girl is about to start menstruating. In other words, those who have young daughters, you can tell them to watch out for white discharge as a sign of their first period nearing. This way, they can be prepared about what is to come in the near future.

What is the purpose of white discharge?

White discharge has several uses. First, the vagina is a self-cleaning system; one does not have to use any external products like intimate washes or douches to clean the vagina. If there is white discharge, it means that the vagina is functioning properly and the vaginal flora is clean and healthy.

Second, the quantity and consistency of white discharge is a wonderful indicator of your menstrual cycle. Cervical discharge will be at its highest around ovulation when you are most likely to get pregnant. Therefore, if you regularly track your cervical discharge, you can get an idea of where you are in your cycle. And yes, for regular tracking, you have to touch your cervical mucous and there is nothing ewwww about it.

Next, white discharge acts as a natural lubricant while having vaginal sexual intercourse. One does not need an external lubricant if one is aroused enough. Related to this is another function that the white discharge has – it carries sperm up until the cervix and onwards to the uterus, therefore, helping one get pregnant.

Is my white discharge normal?

Let’s put it this way: as long as your white discharge is not smelling foul, isn’t too much to bear, and is of creamy white colour, there is nothing you need to worry about. If any of the above-mentioned reasons is an issue for you, we would recommend you go see a gynaecologist.

What then is our problem with white discharge?

The problem is that we are constantly taught to shame women for their natural bodily processes – be it sweat, poop, or white discharge. Not only does society shame women for regular body processes, but this also makes women more uncomfortable about their own bodies – bodies they are born with. Let’s get this straight – white discharge is completely normal and a CLEAN PANTY IS NOT NORMAL. You may need to see a gynaecologist if your panty is so clean and white discharge-free.

By saying this, by no means are we saying that one shouldn’t worry about hygiene and sanitation, especially when it comes to menstrual and reproductive health. We definitely should. However, we need to do a little more research before we peddle myths as “facts.”   

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